I’ve just enjoyed Revenge of the Electric Car, sequel to Who Killed the Electric Car? – the story of how GM created, then rounded up and crushed its fleet of EV1 electric vehicles while their owners (including Danny DeVito) protested and wept.
This time director Chris Paine gets incredible access to the heads of major companies and creates a tense drama, pitting three determined men against one another in a race to create a successful electric car.
Old-school ‘Maximum Bob’ Lutz has seen the (electric) light and is championing the extended-electric Chevy Volt. He admits GM was given a kick in the pants by Silicon Valley upstart, Elon Musk – described as the closest thing to the real Tony Stark from Iron Man, who creates the hugely desirable Tesla. Finally, there’s the ice-cool Carlos Ghosn, who apparently doesn’t get out of bed in the morning unless there’s money in it, who has bet his career and possibly Nissan’s future on the volume-selling Leaf.
My favorite scene shows Lutz and Musk sneaking a peek at the Leaf during the Detroit auto show, both looking slightly worried. Bob has also been looking at the Chinese BYD (Build Your Dreams) electric car, but Musk reckons he doesn’t have time to look at what everyone else is doing.
Toyota’s Prius and other EVs and hybrids don’t really figure in the film, but sticking to the big three makes it very watchable.
Just one man, Gadget, joins the story to represent the army of tiny companies creating their own EVs. As the players face potentially career- and dream-shattering crises, Gadget suffers the most heart-breaking set-backs, but definitely has the best parties.
The issue of where the extra electricity needed for thousandswill come from is skated over with a couple of shots of super-green powerplants in Iceland and Israel. None of the main players are asked to comment on it, which is a pity. But then, they probably don’t worry too much about how oil gets out of the ground either.
This is a well-paced, gripping film that captures the excitement of creating something new that could change lives. You don’t need to like cars or understand techy stuff to enjoy it, either.
In cinemas from July 20, DVD 6 August.