(Readers: Please note the blog about the 5th revolution in the US is constructed as a story. While not all chapters are linked, the story might be more meaningful by starting at the beginning.)

(Want a PDF version for Entries #1-10, #11-20, #21-30 formatted as an e-book? Entries #31-40 available soon. Click links for download. America’s 5th Revolution Volume I (Entries 1-10), America’s 5th Revolution Volume II (Entries 11-20), America’s 5th Revolution Volume III (Entries 21-30)

Scene: Jordan’s office with Matt, reporter for major publication. Matt has been asked by POTUS’ office to help write the story of GM. POTUS wants to use the information as part of a plan to help rebuild US manufacturing. Entries about GM begin #41.

Matt: “I’ve been thinking about the last session. GM was generating a lot of positive media coverage around EV1 (electric vehicle). But support for the program internally was weak so GM pulled the plug, as it were.”
Jordan: “I would call it more like letting the batteries drain. GM eventually introduced the EV1 but the program was effectively cancelled before it was ever introduced.”
reporter on typewriter clipart Matt: “So by pulling the plug on EV1 GM managed to take all the positive publicity generated and turn it into negative publicity.”
Jordan: “Probably more negative publicity generated than positive…so GM ends up losing on what was developing into a major win for GM. Another case of GM grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.”
Matt: “Wasn’t there a movie made about GM killing the EV1?”
Jordan: “Yes, a so-called documentary titled ‘Who Killed the Electric Car.’”
Who KIlled the EV 2 Matt: “You were in the movie if I’m not mistaken.”
Jordan: “Yes, my one and only…at least I hope only…feature film.”
Matt: “You said ‘so-called’ documentary.’ Why the label?”
Jordan: “I think the producer left out key points in the film. Look, I understand all films take some license. Films need to tell a story.”
Matt: “But you think the whole story wasn’t told?”
Jordan: “The movie claimed, or at least implied, there was a conspiracy to kill the electric car. I laughed at that idea. We were all too naïve…I sometimes say not smart enough…to have a conspiracy. The EV1 died because of some bad decisions, not because of some conspiracy.”
Matt: “What about GM crushing all the EV1’s? Why?”
Jordan: “This is my frustration with the movie. Key points were left out. In fact, I agree that GM should have crushed the cars.”
Matt: “Huh? Seems like convoluted thinking on your part. You are frustrated that GM killed the program but agree they should have crushed the cars. Why?”
Ev1_crush5 Jordan: “GM made two big mistakes when they crushed the cars. One was they never explained why. Second was they crushed the cars too soon. GM management never understood or appreciated the value of all the positive media coverage the EV1 continued to generate.”
Matt: “You’re right, I’ve never heard why the cars were crushed. All I know is the cars, other than a few, are long gone. What’s the reason?”
Jordan: “Remember GM never sold the EV1 to anyone. All cars were leased.”
Matt: “Why not sell them?
Jordan: “Two reasons. Leasing avoids the battle with the GM financial staff over what the MSRP would be. Financial guys wanted to recover costs as quickly as possible and given the low volume, MSRP would have been outrageously high.”
Matt: “I know the timeframes are different but Tesla has a high MSRP and sells quite a few cars.”
Jordan: “You’re right. And GM might have sold as many as Tesla. The more important reason GM leased the cars was associated with providing service. EV1 was plowing new ground. There were no other electric vehicles, no hybrids and very limited knowledge on how to provide service. Working on the EV1 battery pack was not like changing your car battery.”
Matt: “You mean I could have gotten fried.”
Jordan: “In a heartbeat, or lack of a heartbeat. The battery pack had lots of volts and amps. But there was also a law…at least at the time…and I suspect something similar exists today. At the time if an auto company sold a car…transferred title…then it was obligated to provide service and parts for 10 years.”
Matt: “So if I bought an EV1 in California, where it was introduced, and then moved to say Bangor, ME, GM would be obligated to provide service in Bangor for 10 more years? Even if the car was not sold in Maine?”
Jordan: “Essentially, yes.”
Matt: “And lease cars have different rules?”
Jordan: “The person leasing the car never takes title and therefore does not trigger the service obligation. Plus, the lease can include restrictions on where the car can be driven, where serviced, etc. As a lease car, the EV1 still belongs to GM. The person leasing is really like a long-term renter.”
Matt: “Now I understand why GM leased the EV1’s. I wish the movie would have explained that.”
Jordan: “You and me both. Virtually no one is aware of the service requirement.”
Matt: “But why didn’t GM renew the lease instead of calling all EV1’s back and then crushing them?”
BeanCounter Jordan: “Matt, quit thinking like a marketing guy and start thinking like a bean counter. As a bean counter, you would view the EV1 program as a cost center and not recognize any benefit. The faster the program was shut down, the faster the cost could be eliminated.”
Matt: “I’m still having trouble understanding why the financial guys could not understand the value of EV1. It seems so obvious.”
Jordan: “I hear you. Maybe a story will help you understand. The story I’m about to tell is rarely told. One reason is so few people were involved.”
Matt: “I’m all ears.”
Jordan: (cell phone rings) “Excuse me Matt. I need to take this call. We’ll continue shortly.”