Revenge of the Electric Car

Art & Culture

I came to this film without any great expectations. I saw the previous film (Who Killed The Electric Car?), and I anticipated a dull but worthy documentary about the electric car which will – at some unspecified time in the future – revolutionise our way of life. What i got instead, was an absorbing and enchanting film, which absorbed me throughout, and which I'm recommending to everyone I know. And you.

The film starts at the point the other film left off. GM recall their electric cars, and the dream is over. Danny Devito bemoans the loss of his beloved vehicle, and it's all doom and gloom. But out of the darkness come 4 men with little in common, apart from a desire to produce an electric car. Elon Musk is a thirtysomething South African who made a fortune selling Paypal, and has invested that fortune in Tesla Cars. He is ambitious, driven, and just a little naive about how much it costs to build a car from scratch. Bob Lutz has been in the car business since the year dot. He is an oldfashioned American businessman, for whom idealism is a concept as foreign as postmodernism. But he becomes convinced that the electric car is the way forward for General Motors, which he is running. Bob Gadget (a real name) is a guy who loves cars, and rebuilds them in his garage, putting electric motors into petrol cars, not for money, but for love. Finally, there is Carlos Ghosn, a Brazilian/French guy who is in charge of Nissan Motors, and who, like Lutz, is determined to bring electric cars to the mass market.

The film follows these four through ups and downs, with waves of optimism, the financial crash, and all sorts of personal mishaps and adventures, and what is most remarkable is that in that process, we learn to like them. All of them. Not just because they're pro electric cars, but because we see them in their hour of need as well as their moment of triumph. They are human beings with their own issues and challenges, and they're trying to do something useful in the world. The film maker follows them through all their trials and tribulations they speak frankly about what is going on, and we have the unusual sense that this is as close to a birds eye view as we're likely to get.

I realise that the electric car is not going to save the planet singlehanded, and that energy is still needed to power them; even without petrol, they are not as clean as they seem. But they are step forward, and a world not dependent on fossil fuels would be a better world than the one we live in right now. I ended up wanting to buy an electric car myself, and that is not something I could ever have imagined before.


By Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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