You Should Really Watch This Movie, Because Elon Musk Says So

FEB 3 2019 BY EVANNEX 31

ELON MUSK RECOMMENDS YOU WATCH THIS MOVIE

Tesla’s Elon Musk recently tweeted, “Great electric car documentary about early days of Tesla, GM Volt, Nissan Leaf & Gadget. So much has happened since then.” Indeed. With the spotlight shining so brightly on Elon and Tesla, it’s hard to remember how far the man (and the company) have come since the early days. Many of the early struggles surrounding Tesla were captured in this fascinating flick, Revenge of the Electric Car.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Source: Revenge of the Electric Car

Director Chris Paine had originally profiled the shocking story of GM’s EV1 in Who Killed the Electric Car. What was portrayed in that film had a profound impact on Elon Musk. As luck would have it, Elon starred in Paine’s follow-up film. Released back in 2011, Revenge of the Electric Car chronicled the high stakes race to build the auto industry’s next generation electric vehicle.

In Revenge of the Electric Car, Paine takes his film crew behind the closed doors of Nissan, GM, Tesla, and an independent electric car conversion enthusiast (Gadget) in order to uncover the early stages of a global EV resurgence. Without having to pump a drop of gas (or diesel), this new generation of cars showed the promise of an exciting future — fast, furious, and cleaner than ever.

While Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn has suffered some (to say the least) setbacks of late, there’s another intriguing executive face-off in the movie. Elon went up against Bob Lutz, the larger than life GM exec, who inspired the Chevy Volt. Nowadays, Lutz remains a regular guest on CNBC trolling Tesla. Sadly, Chevy Volt’s production will officially come to an end this year in March. That said, it’s worth recalling that Tesla’s Roadster was actually a key catalyst for GM — inspiring Lutz to green light the Chevy Volt.

Newsweek profiled Lutz back in 2007 and reported, “GM engineers didn’t want to switch gears to a plug-in electric, which they insisted couldn’t be run on lithium-ion batteries. The turning point came when tiny Tesla Motors, a Silicon Valley start-up, announced… it would produce a speedy electric sports car powered by those same laptop batteries. ‘That tore it for me,’ says Lutz. ‘If some Silicon Valley start-up can solve this equation, no one is going to tell me anymore that it’s unfeasible.'”

Source: Revenge of the Electric Car

Looking back, there’s plenty of déjà vu watching Elon tackle Tesla’s production challenges. Of all those profiled in the film, Elon (and Tesla) have clearly prevailed. But, many of the obstacles that tested Elon in the film: fast-growth, naysayers, and keeping up with an impatient customer base are still issues the company faces today. Now older and battle-tested, Elon is far more seasoned to navigate the roadblocks that lay ahead. Nevertheless, the movie is a refreshing look at how far Tesla has come in such a short time.

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Source: Revenge of the Electric Car (via Youtube: QualityIsNumber1)

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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31 Comments on "You Should Really Watch This Movie, Because Elon Musk Says So"

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We need a third installment of this trilogy. The story didn’t stop at two movies.

Yes, agreed. A good update would be in order as we’ve progressed so much!

While not as good as “Who Killed the Electric Car” for those who are early adopters the movie is very informative. And yes Tesla has done very well.

I purchased a copy of the film one of my very few film purchases.

I completely disagree with the premise that there was a conspiracy to kill the electric car. Look at the cost curve of batteries. It has only recently come down to enable high end cars like the model S and more recently the model 3. Back in 2000, the cost was simply too high for a mass-market vehicle, no charging infrastructure, etc. The time was not ripe. The only conspiracy was that of economics. But happily, economics are now on the side of the EV, there will be no stopping the transition to EV now.

IIRC, that was exactly the conclusion of the movie….

My response to Who Killed the Electric Car is pretty much the same as what Boon said to Otter when Bluto was ranting about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor.
“Forget it. He’s rolling.”
As you point out, battery prices were prohibitively expensive when the EV-1 and RAV-4 EV first came out, and getting to the mass production levels needed to reduce the electric intents parts simply wasn’t going to happen without the Energy Security Act of 2007 and the $7500 tax credit it enacted. Crushing the EV-1 was stupid for PR reasons but continuing to produce the EV-1 would have been nearly as foolhardy.

Look at the Wikipedia entry for the Toyota RAV4 EV: “Whether or not Toyota wanted to continue production, it was unlikely to be able to do so because the EV-95 battery was no longer available. Chevron had inherited control of the worldwide patent rights for the NiMH EV-95 battery when it merged with Texaco, which had purchased them from General Motors. Chevron’s unit won a US$30,000,000 settlement from Toyota and Panasonic, and the production line for the large NiMH batteries was closed down and dismantled. This case was settled in the ICC International Court of Arbitration, and not publicized due to a gag order placed on all parties involved.[19][20] Only smaller NiMH batteries, incapable of powering an electric vehicle or plugging in, were allowed by Chevron-Texaco.” The oil companies bought the rights to the best electric battery at the time, the NiMH, then sued Toyota to stop them from using it, and won, and prevented anyone else from using the battery. I don’t know if you can call it a conspiracy if what they are did was so out in the open. But it is certainly naive to say that the oil companies were not doing anything to prevent viable… Read more »
I was under the impression that Ovonics sold batteries to both GM and Toyota until 2001 or 2002 and that Nilar NiMH batteries were sold at the same time and were not covered by the Ovshinsky/Ovonics/Chevron patents. From what I have read, the EV-1, RAV-4 EV and Ford Ranger EV were dead and were being retired before Chevron stopped the sales of the batteries to GM and Toyota in 2003. Yet again, GM especially was tone deaf and gaffed. The battery patent fight didn’t kill the EV-1, it was already dead. But by slamming the lid on the coffin by selling the battery patent to an oil company, GM guaranteed that it would take at least 3 or 4 more years for LiIon to get to the point where it was remotely financially feasible and for the NiMH patent to lapse in Japan. I think the window was just 2003 to 2007 for no NiMH sales from Ovonics/Chevron before the NiMH tech was sold by Panasonic in Japan.. The EV-1 and RAV-4 EV simply cost too much to build back then, and the Volt and Leaf still cost too much in 2010, despite the massive reductions in price for LiIon… Read more »

There was a conspiracy, and this is it. Musks genius was using a standard format cell that couldn’t be hijacked by Big Oil and creating a battery pack capable of powering the original Roadster.

On a deeper level, why did GM sell the NiMH IP to an oil company? The same GM that bought up municipal electric trolley systems and tore up the tracks to sell more busses. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of dirty hands to go around during the first attempt to stop EVs. Now it’s a game to impede the inevitable. I hope they’re all considering the shape of hockey sticks.

I regret that I only have but one 👍to give for this comment

Clearly GM burried the NiMH patents at an oil company to make sure the EV would stay dead. Of course forcing the use of Li-ion only made things worse for GM in the end.

Lithium Ion was already available at the time and had 3x the energy density to start with.

Cost was the only factor.

“Chevron had inherited control of the worldwide patent rights for the NiMH EV-95 battery when it merged with Texaco, which had purchased them from General Motors.” Wikipedia is suboptimal when it comes to conspiracies. ECD/Ovonic held the patent rights. Cobasys was a 50/50 JV between ECD and (eventually) Chevron-Texaco to manufacture NiMH under license. ECD sued Panasonic/Matsushita and Toyota in 2001. Cobasys soon joined the suit as co-plaintiff. ECD describes the 2004 settlement here (PDF): https://web.archive.org/web/20040717233048/http://www.ovonic.com/PDFs/Financial_Reports/form_8k/8k_mbi_patent_infringe_settlement_7july04.pdf EDC got $10m, Cobasys got $20m. All parties cross-licensed NiMH patents through 2014 and agreed to cooperate on advanced NiMH. The defendants were not allowed to: (i) offer for sale certain NiMH batteries for certain transportation applications in North America until after June 30, 2007 or (ii) sell commercial quantities of certain transportation and certain stationary power NiMH batteries in North America until after June 30, 2010. This only prohibits DIRECT sale of NiMH batteries in North America. Panasonic had to sell through Cobasys in NA until 2010. It does NOT prevent Toyota from using NiMH in its own cars, e.g. the RAV4-EV, even in North America. It does not prevent Panasonic from selling NiMH directly to EV makers outside North America. It’s simply… Read more »

Selling, or pricing the EV1 at their mid $30k price was Stupid Optimistic, and Could have been put under a New GM Brand, for Premium EV’s, so they could price it at a more appropriate Premium Price! Something more like $100,000, would have been more suitable, since it was a hand built car, like Tesla’s First Roadsters were!

As I said above, CARB pushed them all, too hard, and so they pushed back, hard! If they were given 5 years to get some kinks worked out, and allowed for a slower, but progressive ramp up of % of sales as EV’s, it could have had a smoother transition.

Chevron cutting NiMH Cells, in larger capacity, also was a killer for that time, because they worked, were safe, could deal better with cold and heat, also!

Further, It was not all on GM, as Ford was equally pushing back! It could have stayed slow, until they had a good starting Base, to get some better real world data from. But, in any case, GM’s famous Actions lead to the creation of Tesla Motors! That, was the start of a new day, at EV’s darkest hour, began a new birth! – The Energy Security Act, itself, was helpful in changing course, even though, today, we see it ignored human frailties, arrogance, and rewarded slow to the game players to the disadvantage of First Up Leaders, in the USA: Tesla, then – GM. – Still, Tesla is just starting to reach “Puberty” in its Growth Spurt, with the Model 3! The Model Y may take it solidly into its “Teens” as it Grows Up! The Semi, and the Pickup, if as successful as desired, should take Tesla into “Adulthood”, as it starts to work with the ‘Big Boys!’ – Also, as long as Tesla is “The One Everything Else EV is Compared To”, it will pull, and push, others to do better! Rivian, looks like it smelled the Cheese, and is heading to the Target! If they can… Read more »
The Conspiracy was evident in CARB, GM, Toyota, Ford, & Chevron, the company that bought out the control of NiMH Large Capacity Cells. A, CARB Was a bit agressive in their desired Ramp up of EV’s, and could have started with a bit slower ramp, like 0.5% – 1% – 1.5% – 2% – 3% – 4% – 5% – 6% – 8% – 10% – 12.5% – 15% – 20% – – 25%… Etc! GM & Others, like Ford, Toyota, & Honda, “Might Not Have Pushed Back As Hard”, compared to what they did. B, GM did not need to kill the program as they had 2 Seat (EV-1) plus 4 Seat and Hybrid Variants of the car, as well as a Fuel Cell package. GM could have just kept Re-Upping the Leases, or Sold them to those who wanted to buy them, but at a price more relevant to its cost, as the reference price in the mid $30k range was too low. Tesla sold over 2,400 First Roadsters, at over $100,000! So, GM/Saturn could have done similar pricing, and done better, too! Spending Big Bucks on Goofy EV-1 Ads, was not so smart, either! C, Toyota tried… Read more »

“Even now, in 2018-2019 the 40 kW Leaf, is only about equal in range of the 2000 EV1 with NiMH Cells! GM’s Bolt EV Beats it, Kia/Hyundai’s new Offerings also, and Every Tesla, since the first Roadsters, have exceeded that 140 miles range per charge. The i3 is just now beating it, and the 2020 Kia Soul, will, too. The Porsche TayCan, will too.

But, the only 2 Seat Player, the Smart ED, is still only at 68 miles range, in 2019, or half what the 2 Seat, 2000:EV1 could do, on NiMH cells!”

All of those examples are either WAY LARGER cars than the EV1 which achieved those ranges with one of the lowest Cd possible on the market today. Or the current cars cost less than 25% of the EV1.

The EV1 was estimated costing GM at least $80K to make back then. That is equivalent to ~$160K today.

“No Conspiracy? OK. Just Engineering Laziness, Marketing Ignorance, and Slothful Responsiveness!”

Or just simple math and logic. Apparently that is something missing from the usual EV1 lover turned into GM haters…

Great to re-see the catalysts for the EV movements early days. Many people just think of Tesla and GM, but forget about how tenacious Nissan was and continues to be for electrification. Taking Mr. Ghosn’s recent personal troubles aside and whether or not you like him or hate him, he was the first to come out with the “mass market” vision for pure Zero Emission vehicles. No single model has yet surpassed the Leaf’s over 400,000 Global Sales to date yet, which after almost 9 years, is a remarkable feat in of itself.

Hope this movie leaves you more energized about the EV Revolution (hmm…great name for an EV YouTube show!!.. 🙂 ..), as you can see how far this worldwide movement and industry has come in less than a decade.

You should really watch this movie too….because I also say so! 🙂

Nissan would have won big if the gas price trend of 2000-2007 continued . . .

$35,000 MSRP is much more supportable at the mass market level when gas is $5 at the pump . . .

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GASMIDWCM

So, is the collapsing Oil Prices just a program to mess up the Saudi’s, or was that a cover, when really it was a planned hit against EV’s, the Canadian Tar Sands, and more?

I asked, because, at the time Tesla Opened Reservations for the Model 3, I think the Pump Price of Gas & Diesel, as well as the price for Crude Oil, was much Higher! Plus, it seems to me, the Canadian $/US$ exchange Rate, was closer to Par, too!

Making Tesla’s more expensive to buy in Canada, was an end result of that shift in exchange rate, along with the general push for cheap gas, has turned the $ value of that shift to EV’s, back to a more challenging math equation, and harder to pitch “Break Even” on the EV Premium!

“So, is the collapsing Oil Prices just a program ….”

There was no program. High oil prices attracted hundreds of shale oil drillers/frackers to North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, etc. and doubled US petroleum production.

A successful conspiracy killed NiMH batteries sized for EVs (see “Patent encumbrance of large automotive NiMH batteries”.) All it did was a brief delay while LiON chemistry advanced and bypassed NiMH. From Wikipedia, “The EV1 program was shut down by GM before the new NiMH battery could be commercialized, despite field tests that indicated the Ovonics battery extended the EV1’s range to over 150 miles.”

It had the side effect of exporting battery technology to the Asians. So GM and pretty much every non-Tesla company has to outsource the batteries and controllers. Small wonder that the Asian competition to the Bolt appears to have copied the same battery size and controllers … only improved.

In contrast, Tesla captured and imported the battery manufacturing because it is key technology to their cars. Everything after the cells is and remains Tesla technology. In contrast, GM makes the ‘gliders.’

It was the story of the Ovonics battery story from the first doc that pushed me over the edge where: “Some day I’ll have an EV if at all possible” and stick it back to the oil companies.

Actually, there were about a year’s worth of the EV1 made with NiMH Cells, and yes, at least 140 Mile’s was the norm. I suppose a 150 mile range was the Rating.

It was that 140-150 miles range, that really began to make the EV1 look promising, to retail customers, and make GM’s Gas Sucking Cars look so bad, that made GM greatly realize, the EV Could Squeeze desire for their profitable ICE Sales, that had them Suing California, and with help from the Federal Government, won that law suit!

Imagine, if, instead, GM made a BEV Silverado, back in 2000-2002, with Dual Motors, what they could have developed into, today!

“at least 140 Mile’s was the norm. I suppose a 150 mile range was the Rating.”

EPA tested a 1999 EV1 with NiMH batteries at 105 miles:
https://avt.inl.gov/vehicle-button/1999-gm-ev1-nimh-batteries

Hyundai Ioniq Electric gets a 124 mile EPA rating. It’s the same weight, has a 6% larger battery (28 vs. 26.4 kWh) and a more efficient drive train with modern power electronics and PM motor. LRR tires have also improved. On the flip side, Ioniq drag coefficient is reported at 0.24 vs. 0.195 for the EV1. Throw it all together and a combined rating of 105-115 miles sounds about right for the NiMH EV1.

“Imagine, if, instead, GM made a BEV Silverado, back in 2000-2002, with Dual Motors, what they could have developed into, today!”

They would have gone bankrupt faster.

The interesting thing is that people who keep thinking about NiMH would save the EV world just simply failed to understand the simple physics that NiMH has 1/3 of the energy density. Doesn’t matter what you do, it is 1/3 due to its poor cell voltage compared with Lithium Ion.

The only slightly advantage of NiMH is the fact that it has relatively good power density and not as sensitive to charging and temperature.

Lithium Ion was always superior and invented before NiMH. Cost was the only problem.

A GM BEV Truck with any of those batteries would have bankrupt GM long before the 2009 bankruptcy.

The sequel will be “You can’t stop the Electric Car”. IMHO this is definitely a must see along with who killed the electric car.

The sequel will be “Who killed a gas car. Theories of an electric lobbying”.

That, would likely be #4 in the series, coming in about 2025-2028! It would be related to Countries, States & Provinces, and Cities Banning ICE Vehicles; Gas Station Closures, Refinery Closures, Oil Tankers being Decommissioned, etc!

Or, maybe, so far it is more like “Watch Out For The Electric Car / Semi / CUV / Pickup / Boat / Aircraft!” (All Potentially Silent Killers!) (Of Everything ICE Powered!)

How about “Silent but Deadly- the story of how the electric car killed the corpulent and corrupt LICE/Oil industry and how a better world emerges as a result”?