Saturday, October 15, 2011

Interview: Chris Paine Talks Revenge of the Electric Car |

Read Shockya's exclusive interview with director Chris Paine, who helmed the upcoming documentary ‘Revenge of the Electric Car,’ which is set to hit select theaters on October 21, 2011. The film goes behind the closed doors of Nissan, GM, the Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors and independent car converter Greg “Gadget” Abbott to chronicle the resurgence of electric cars. The movie shows how almost every major car maker is jumping at the chance to produce new electronic models, a mere five years after the companies were destroying them. Paine discusses with us, among other things, why he decided to chronicle the revival of the electric car, and how the public’s opinion on the car has changed over the past 15 years.

Written by: Karen Benardello

ShockYa (SY): Your new documentary ‘Revenge of the Electric Car’ tells the story of the global resurgence of electric cars. Why did you decide to chronicle this revival?

Chris Paine (CP): I think after we finished ‘Who Killed the Electric Car?,’ we were shocked to begin to hear that the electric car might be coming back from the dead, as it were. The audio industry crushed about 5,000 electric cars in California in those days. They were all against it in California, (saying) it will never work. Suddenly you began hearing rumors that GM was going to do it, Nissan was going to do it, Ford was looking at it again. We thought this might be one of those moments where we can go and capture this huge global industry in the middle of a change. Since we had a connection from the first film, we started to work through everyone that we knew for this movie.

SY: ‘Revenge of the Electric Car’ goes behind the closed doors of Nissan and GM. What was the process like in getting the companies’ executives to agree to have their brands appear in the movie?

CP: The process was that I have two terrific producers (P.G. Morgan and Jessie Deeter). We began e-mailing with people we knew in the business. I eventually met (Tesla Motors’ head) Elon Musk, and he said “Okay, I’ll let you in to chronicle us doing this.” Once we had Tesla involved, we were able to get several other companies involved. We picked the four strongest ones, and told their stories. When I say strongest, I mean four different stories that represented different parts of the industry, so that we can give the audience a three-year, behind-the-scenes of the ups and downs of getting something like this going.

SY: In ‘Who Killed the Electric Car?,’ you showed how, in the mid-1990s, the car companies destructed the electric cars. Why do you think car companies have changed their minds about marketing electric cars?

CP: What made them change their minds was that gasoline had hit $4 a gallon for the first time. A lot of car companies had nothing to sell people. Everyone was paying $100 to fill up their cars or trucks every time they went to the gas station. They said, how come there are only gas cars for sale? Car companies around the world said we have to look at plug-in vehicles, because electricity is about $1 a gallon, that’s the rough cost. We know these cars can perform even better than gas cars in a lot of situations, so we don’t want to be left behind. That was probably the major factor in pushing them forward. Car companies also saw electric cars as a way to green up their brand. They were also receiving a lot of pressure from consumers who were upset.

To continue reading this interview, please visit: Interview: Chris Paine Talks Revenge of the Electric Car |

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