this post is long overdue. I meant to write it during the announcement by General Motors (GM) that it was filing for bankruptcy. During that time, I opportunistically picked up a copy of Who Killed the Electric Car at the library to watch. What is ironic that so much of the movie is spent by people saying why the electric car could not be done. With the claim that ecological cars would not be profitable.
Contrast that with Toyota who is on it's third revision of the Prius, this recent NY Times article talks about the huge demand for the new car. So assuming that the Japanese and American car companies are capable of making economic analyses, why did the Japanese decide to continue pursuing alternatives to the combustion engine and the American car companies did not.
I think it might be a matter of attitude, when one focuses ones energy on avoiding something instead of channeling that same energy to the question of "what can I do to make it economical" I think that was the hybrid's brilliant solution in that instead of trying to solve all problems simultaneously (distribution, marketing, manufacturing, etc). It took it piecemeal. the original Prius was a car based on the old Tercel platform, not the space age looking car of today. It meant the innovation was cost contained.
If alternative energy vehicles was suppose to be an economic folly, it looks like someone forgot to tell Toyota. Too bad GM was maybe too smart for its own good.