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   from the issue of September 28, 2006

Film traces death of GM

The year was 1990. California was in a pollution crisis, smog threatening the public health.

Desperate for a solution, the California Air Resources Board targeted auto exhaust as the source of the problem. Inspired by a General Motors announcement about the development of an electric car, the board approved the zero-emissions mandate. The most radical smog-fighting move since the catalytic converter, the mandate required 2 percent of new vehicles sold in California to be emission-free by 1998, and 10 percent by 2003.

In "Who Killed the Electric Car," opening Sept. 29 at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, the mysterious fate of GM's EV1 - the electric car that inspired the zero-emissions mandate - is chronicled.

With a jump on the competition thanks to its speed-record-breaking electric concept car, GM launched its EV1 electric vehicle in 1996. It was a revolutionary modern car, requiring no gas, no oil changes, no mufflers and rare brake maintenance (a billion-dollar industry unto itself). A typical maintenance checkup for the EV1 consisted of replenishing the windshield washer fluid and a tire rotation.

However, the fanfare surrounding the EV1 launch disappeared. Fast forward six years and the fleet is gone. EV charging stations dot the California landscape, collecting dust.

While revolutionary, the electric car threatened the status quo. The truth behind the demise of the EV1 resembles a classic murder story, featuring multiple suspects, each taking a turn with the knife.

"Who Killed the Electric Car" interviews and investigates automakers, legislators, engineers, consumers and car enthusiasts from Los Angeles to Detroit. The film works through motives and alibis, piecing together a complex puzzle.

"Who Killed the Electric Car" (rated PG) plays at the Ross through Oct. 12.

Show times are available online at or by calling 472-5353.

Also showing...

"Drawing Restraint 9" - An experimental film by Matthew Barney with a soundtrack by Bjork. For more information, including showtimes, go online to or call the film information line at 472-5353.



American Plains juried show opens Oct. 6
American Life in Poetry
'Collage Aesthetic' opens Sept. 29 at the Sheldon
Film traces death of GM
Graphic novel lecture Oct. 7
University Theatre opens season Oct. 5 with 'Judevine'