LA Connection Property Blog: May 2008

“Who Killed the Electric Car?” - and why?

With Oil prices reaching all-time record highs and gas prices rising on a daily basis, it's worth taking a look at whether anything happened over the last decade that may have averted our current dilemma. Two significant factors come to mind: (1) The continued transfer of oil to the Strategic Oil Reserves despite rising prices; and (2) The concerted effort to stop the benefits of technological developments. 

(1) In 2002 Senator Carl Levin directed the staff of the subcommittee on Investigations to consider whether the Department of Energy's program to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was increasing the price of crude oil. In 2003 Senator Levin issued a Report concluding that the program to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve had in fact increased oil prices, but did not increase overall U.S. energy security.

The Report also concluded that the lack of regulation in the over-the-counter crude oil markets made those markets vulnerable to manipulation. He therefore urged the Department of Energy to suspend shipments of oil to the SPR when crude oil supplies are tight and prices are high.

The Department of energy ignored these warnings and this has hurt U.S. Consumers and Taxpayers.

(2) During the same period, the further development, marketing and production if the Electric Car was being stifled. This was ominously explained in the 2006 Documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car".  The film explores the birth, limited commercialization, and subsequent death of the battery electric vehicle in the United States, specifically the General Motors EV1 of the 1990s. According to the documentary, GM claimed there was no demand for this product and they then took back every single vehicle (which were only available on lease - none were actually purchased from GM). Despite many owners wanting to purchase their vehicles outright, GM would not respond to these drivesr, and at the end of the leases the vehicles were taken back and crushed. (Yes physically destroyed!)

(1) Why did the Department of Energy continue to transfer oil to the SPR despite the Report which concluded that the program to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was increasing the price of crude oil while not increasing overall U.S. energy security?

(2) Why was the development and adoption of this new technology curtailed? Who was responsible? Was it Big Business in the form of the oil industry & car manufacturers, the U.S. Government, or consumers at large?

“Who Killed the Electric Car? ” - and why?
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