Actor Tom Hanks does like electric cars, but he never owned a General Motors’ EV1, and he never watched tearfully as it was carted off to be crushed. Hanks recently sent a letter to The New Yorker, clearing up an inaccuracy in a pretty good article on EVs (abstracted here; the full text is for subscribers).
Hanks: “Peter J. Boyer, in his otherwise spot-on piece about the car industry, assumes that I once leased G.M.’s sadly fated EV1 electric car and, like other drivers of that twin-seat rocket of a vehicle, watched the emission-free car be wrested from my garage, towed away, and busted up into pieces of metal, glass, and rubber smaller than razor blades (“The Road Ahead,” April 27th).
“Luckily, I did not. The source of Boyer’s slight inaccuracy may have been the documentary film Who Killed the Electric Car?, which used a clip of a visit I made to the Late Show with David Letterman, during which I claimed to be saving America one electric car at a time. However, by the time I began shopping for an all-electric car, in 2003, the EV1 had already been yanked from showrooms as if the car had never existed.
“Instead, I found what was purported to be the very last electric car available for sale in the state of California — a Toyota EV. It had four doors, a rear hatch, room for my family, including a dog in the back, power windows, A/C, a great sound system, and the fastest, most effective windshield defroster known to mankind. When the car companies collectively, and, to some, diabolically, decided to take these cars back, the electric vehicles disappeared. But not mine. I have the pink slip. I own that car, and it is still driven every day, albeit by one of my crack staff of employees. My electric car recently crossed fifty thousand miles on the odometer with its original battery but without so much as a splash of gasoline.”
Hanks also owns and drives an eBox, which is a battery-powered version of the Scion xB — he’s apparently a loyal Toyota man. The eBox, with a 35-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery and 150 miles of range. Interestingly, Toyota had little more success leasing its RAV4 than GM did.
Incidentally, the director of Who Killed the Electric Car? is at work on another film that celebrates the rebirth of Evs. He drives a Tesla Roadster, and recently took delivery.
“It’s been five years since my last silver all-electric sports car, a GM EV1, was infamously destroyed,” Paine writes. “Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of driving a Toyota Rav-4 EV conversion. But this week takes me right back to car heaven. America’s first ground-up design pure electric sportscar since the EV1 arrives again. Hurrah!!”
I ran into Paine at the introduction of Tesla’s Model S in New York recently, and he graciously credited an article I wrote for E Magazine about carmakers working to undermine the California EV standards as helping inspire his film. That was nice to know.