Who Killed the Electric Car – Let the Free Market Decide

***This post was originally made in our forum which is now closed and reposted here for our community.***

Have you seen the movie? It’s informative and I welcome social action documentaries anytime. The basic premise is to get people thinking, moving, mad, into action. But how does the film stack up if you just look at basic economic principles from both sides of the electric car equation?

On one side environmentalist and people looking for alternatives to gas powered cars favor the electric car (maybe the hydro). These guys will jump on conspiracy theories that say oil execs are holding back technology. This may be the case, but really I’m not there so I can’t say with certainty that oil execs are doing this.

Let me say this, using basic economics. If oil execs are holding back better technology that’s CHEAPER than what we have today, we shouldn’t throw them in jail, no no, but BUT, they should loose their jobs and their entire corporations DESTROYED by the consumer.

It’s like this. This FIRST oil company that brings out a CHEAPER and more efficient alternative to the gas powered case WILL reap BILLIONS. BILLIONS. The fact of the matter is, we still have gas powered cars because it remains cheaper to produce, drive, fill, etc., than hydro. The technology is still at a point where greater profits are derived from oil cars.

The INSTANT there’s an alternative that’s cheaper, investors (shareholders) MUST MUST accept, adopt, and embrace the new technology. Why? Because it will reap billions, like I said, it will put that company ahead of the competition, it will make them distinct compared to the rest of the competition, it will SINK the competitor.

So it’s either a) we do not have such a technology, or b)we have very very very STUPID oil execs how are no accountable to the shareholder…….. or c) its’ the governments fault–for all the conspiracy theorists out there!


  1. very interesting subject, this alternative energy question/conspiracy theory etc also bleeds into the over unity debate. (i.e. is there a way to make an over 100% efficient energy source, or free energy, sometimes referred to as zero point energy also)

    here is a link to a mainstream uk tv documentary (i say mainstream because its not wacky stuff, i have no problem with wacky theories or documentaries/sites etc, i have an open mind, however i think its more responsible to flag up where in the political spectrum these arguments are coming from to help us all gain an understanding of what technology is viable and what isnt)

    Search google video.

    (it was screened on channel 4 in the uk 1995, channel 4 is the supposedly upmarket commercial terrestrial channel in the uk, we have 5 terrestrial channels here, 2 are bbc, 3 commercial)

    re the electric car or hydrogen car (which seems to be a viable or existing technology unlike over unity ideas) it seems to me that investment in the infrastructure maybe holding things back (i.e. there would be alot of profit there but the investment would be huge and there is no guarantee that if company A invests X amount of cash the investment would be profitable in the long term, suppose a new technology came along soon after and displaced it or the public might not take to it etc, and of course the oil barons wont like it either) so its more profitable to use oil as said and alot safer to invest in etc. (my 2pence on the issue anyway)

  2. i checked out some of the stuff from that documentary, and the one guy who reckoned he had made an over-unity power source (by “water splitting”) got prosecuted for fraud (for leading investors to believe his technology worked when in fact it appears it didnt)

    “An Ohio court found Stanley Meyer guilty of “gross and egregious fraud” in a case brought against him by disgruntled investors. The court decided that the centerpiece of the car, his water fuel cell, was a conventional electrolysis device, and he was ordered to repay the investors $25,000.”


    its a real shame that people poison the well with fraud like this (unless this guy is the victim of some horrible smear, pretty unlikely though) perhaps there is something in these ideas of over-unity devices but its hard to tell the sincere from the fraudulent.

    I`ll have to try and catch that movie about the electric car

    trailer here…


    (oh btw canadians i was watching alot of old canadian tv and radio online today, checking out CBC`s marshall mcluhans radio and tv archive, he comes out with some interesting stuff (and somethings which dont really make sense imo, but nobodys perfect etc)

    a great canadian imo. (plus it led me on to have a look at the canadian political economist Harold Innis, he seems like an interesting thinker too, i`ll do some more reading)


    (the interview with Gzowski is hilarious imo, i wish tv were more like this these days, interviewers who read up on peoples theories and are witty too)

  3. i cant find the whole documentary but here is the NOW programme with an interview with the documentary maker (he goes through the various arguments)

    (3 parts in order)

  4. I still think it’s a big deal, an electric car takes a LOT of energy, TONS. You can’t just plug it in to a 220volt plug and off you go in 2 hours. Plus, will people accept that, you can’t drive anywhere in 6 hours cause your honda needs charging? Fact of the matter is, when it’s cheaper to use alternate fuels we’ll adopt them, plain and simple. I’m going to check out those videos tomorrow, thanks for posting.

  5. I think one thing you missed in this post/discussion is the idea of sunk costs and investment required to invent the technologies. 1) Sunk cost: While typically its not rational to focus on a sunk cost in order to get something out of it, shareholders and humans in general still do think this way. So, if I’ve spent $25Billion to make a SUV plant that would make its money back in 10 years, the last thing I want to do is start telling share holders that we need to shut this plant down for Electrics in year 3.

    2)Also there is the fact that alot of technology needed to be invented to make them exact replacments to internal combustion engines.. If I had a $25Billion plant making SUVs and profits, why would I risk $100 Billion to invent a replacement for something that is already making me a pretty penny and would cut into my SUV market?

  6. I’m not sure we’ve seen an SUV plant open in the past 3 years, I surmise the car companies knew 20 years ago about electric and have been moving towards the day when they’d have to produce. There may be a transitioning period, but if the demand is right then they have no reason not to produce.

  7. TO believe that oil execs have conspired with car companies is to believe in a conspiracy of epic proportions. In my opinion the idea of a conspiracy of this size is like saying that putting a man on the moon was a conspiracy. Think of how hard it is for OPEC to collude on price, colluding to block the electric car would take more discipline and organization. I buy into the idea that the free market would produce an electric car if it were less expensive than existing oil consuming vehicles.

    The main problem as I see it with the electric car is that a huge investment needs to be put into infrastructure (charging stations etc) before electric cars become practical. No one wants to put up the investment for infrastructure until there are a sufficient amount of electric cars. It is the problem of “the chicken and the egg”.

    Another interesting consideration when contemplating the idea of an electric car is how the electricity is produced. If the electricity is produced using dirty coal for example, the gains environmentally would be small (possibly negative). I have no data on carbon emissions from dirty coal needed to charge an electric car versus the carbon emissions emitted from the average gas car. I would be interested to read anything on the subject if someone knows of literature on the subject.

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