Filmmaker Chris Paine drove his EV1 for only about five years — that is, before General Motors hauled it away in a controversial mass takeback of all its leased EV1s that had been on the road.
That's when Paine and several other EV1 advocates and environmentalists who weren't given the option to buy the EV1 after their leases ended turned on their cameras and took to the streets.
The footage from those moments and other critical events concerning the EV1 that followed — alongside hours of interviews with executives, industry leaders and enthusiasts — would eventually come together to create Paine's 2006 documentary film, Who Killed the Electric Car?
"People love their cars, so you're wandering into hallowed ground for a lot of people," Paine, 59, told Automotive News. "With the EV1 — I was never a super big car guy, but when that car got taken away, it was like the future had been taken off the table, and that's what led to us making the film."
With the EV1, "You felt like we were ahead of the 21st century," he added. "When it got reversed, we lost 20 years."
Paine, an activist-turned-filmmaker, has been monumental in telling the story — or, to some, just one version of the story — of the EV1. Critics of the film said Paine cast unfair blame on GM. The automaker has said EV1 demand was so low that suppliers stopped making replacement parts for the car, complicating future repairs and maintenance.