How Stupid Are They, Anyway?

July 13, 2007

I just watched “Who Killed the Electric Car?” (which I recommend), which is about the efforts of GM to kill demand for and sales of its own electric cars in California. You read that right.

Here’s the thing I don’t understand — which leads to the title of this piece. Clearly, the oil industry has an interest in eliminating electric cars. No surprise there, and if the conclusions drawn in this documentary had been that Big Oil was the ringleader in shutting down the electric car, you and I would not be having this conversation. But the ringleader was not, apparently, big oil — it was the automobile industry itself.

Oil, as should be painfully obvious to everyone over the age of three, is finite, and de facto, running out — albeit not immediately. So it’s in the automobile industry’s best interests to get cars out there that don’t rely on oil, so that regardless of what happens to the oil industry, the automobile industry can survive. You would think this would be obvious, also, but if actions speak louder than words, this salient point has escaped the notice of the bigwigs at GM.

The documentarians did point out that with the electric car, the automobile industry loses a ton of after-market repair and parts money. I suspect this is nothing compared to what they will lose when the oil runs out, unless they’ve gotten off their dead asses and retooled — this time without shooting themselves in the foot afterward.

Oh, and postscript — Bush & Co. waste a lot of breath talking about “free market” this and “market forces” that — usually when justifying doing nothing about the healthcare system. But in “Who Killed the Electric Car,” it was not only the industrial giants in the oil and automotive arenas who were working to shut progress down — the feds got in on it too.

In a truly free market system, all products can be introduced and they stand or fall based on their own merits — hence, “free market” and “market forces.” I guess the Bush Administration’s definitions of these two phrases include the words “unless we need to legally shape the market to impress our friends.”

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