Tonight's second screening of Revenge of the Electric Car
at the Tribeca Film Festival
was followed by a 45-minute panel discussion with Dan Neil, Elon Musk, Chris Paine, Carlos Ghosn, and moderated by David Duchovny. Actually, not just a panel discussion... a very vibrant, inspired, action-packed panel discussion. Duchovny, a former electric Toyota RAV-4 owner and EV enthusiast, opened the talk by jumping right into the questions the audience members had on their minds after seeing the film. What did they think of how they were portrayed? What are Nissan's and Tesla's plans for the future and what has happened in EV development since the crew stopped filming?
Updates from the car makers were positive: Musk predicts Tesla will be paying off their Department of Energy loan ahead of schedule and sales of cars are up, while Ghosn claimed Nissan has a list of 250,000 people ready to buy the LEAF and his main problem now is that he can't build the cars fast enough to meet the high demand. But auto journalist Dan Neil made sure to provide the checks and balances necessary to keep the car makers on their toes and into a heated conversation, not just a sales pitch for their cars, making them prove their claims with real facts, figures, and accurate projections. At one point Neil said the battery technology is still at the bleeding edge of chemistry and engineering and that "you're not going to see EV semi-tractor trailers on the road any time soon." To which Musk quickly replied, "yes you will." The audience cheered.
Tonight's panel discussion illustrates what many EV enthusiasts have known for years- the technology isn't just coming, it's here, and electric cars in the mass market has a certain inevitability in the air. What some audience members were most pleasantly surprised by would have to be the confidence of the car makers in electric vehicle technology. The film follows these companies as they struggle to create the cars and take what most would call a huge gamble on the technology and the buying habits of the public. But as Ghosn said in tonight's panel, "if you want to take a risk on something, this is a good one."