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GM redeemed in 'Revenge of the Electric Car'

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GM redeemed in 'Revenge of the Electric Car'

BY MARK PHELAN

FREE PRESS AUTO CRITIC

This time, General Motors gets to be the hero.

When the automaker's image needs a boost most, a new film by one of its most eloquent former critics will portray GM as a technology leader working to improve the environment and reduce America's oil dependence.

Chris Paine, director of the influential documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" is making another movie. This time he can't say enough good things about GM.

"My optimism is on the upswing," Paine said after a recent visit to GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant to film production of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car.

"I started out as the ultimate GM fan" when the automaker built the EV1 battery-powered car in the 1990s, Paine said.

"I was very disappointed" when GM ended the program and scrapped the cars. That led Paine to make "Who Killed," a searing account of how GM bungled its way from a technical triumph to a public relations disaster.

"I'm excited again," Paine told me this week. "I couldn't have imagined the change I'd see in GM in just five years."

Paine's new film, "Revenge of the Electric Car," should arrive in theaters next spring or summer.

By then, the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf electric car should be reaching dealerships in reasonable numbers. The Volt is to go on sale this November. The Leaf should follow in December.

Despite the Volt's promise, it's become a target for opponents of the Obama administration. They try to paint it as a government boondoggle, despite the fact that GM committed to building it long before the automaker needed federal assistance in 2009.

Paine expects his movie to help counter that.

"People are ready for these electric cars," he said. "This is an opportunity for consumers to step in and say 'Yes. I'll buy it,' " he said. "Part of the movie's job is to let people know what we've got here."

"Revenge" will also focus on Tesla, the California start-up that makes two-seat electric sports cars, and a company that converts hybrids into pure battery-powered electric vehicles.

Read more: GM redeemed in 'Revenge of the Electric Car' | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20100912/BUSINESS01/9120505/1210/business01/GM-redeemed-in-Revenge-of-the-Electric-Car#ixzz0zQDfhXSq

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