Electric Cars on the Silver Screen

In one of my Thought of the Day video, I asked Nikki and the Transport Evolved audience for any examples of electric cars appearing in TV shows and movies. And boy, was I impressed by the response.

Everyone came together to let me know where they have spotted electric cars. All of which raises my hope that as these non-traditionally powered cars get more airtime they will become ‘normalised’ in the eyes of those who watch those shows and movies.

As I was so amazed at the response I wanted to bring all of the sightings together in one place. So today I start with the movies. If you know of any I have missed, do let me know in the comments.

Crazy/Beautiful (2001)

It’s a love story that’s as old as Romeo and Juliet, two miss-matched lovers try to overcome fate’s cruel ways and be with each other. In this instance two highschoolers from opposite sides of the track: A daughter of a wealth congressman and a poor Latino. But what car would a wealthy congressman drive? A GM EV1 of course!

How Many Times will the EV1 Appear in our List? Image by RightBrainPhotography and Released Under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 Licence

How Many Times will the EV1 Appear in our List? Image by RightBrainPhotography and Released Under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 Licence

Demolition Man (1993)

In a future world where mankind has gone ‘soft’ an evil villain breaks out of prison and only a cop thawed out from the past can help save us. Enter Stallone as a no-nonsense cop who can’t be bothered to work out the three-shell system for post-poop cleanup and just uses his expletive fine paperwork. In this movie the GM Ultralite can be seen but not the usual 3 cylinder 1.5l 2-stroke version. In this future the car is fully electric!

Enough Said (2013)

Dating as an adult is hard, people come with more emotional baggage and arguably don’t look as objectively beautiful as they once did. Getting past these hurdles is all part of adult dating. This romantic comedy looks into these and other issues. And driving around one of the main characters is a GM Volt – albeit one which has had an engine sound dubbed over the top.

Is the Silent Pulling Away of the Volt Too Much for Some Moviegoers?

Is the Silent Pulling Away of the Volt Too Much for Some Moviegoers?

Gattaca (1997)

Life is hard enough as it is, but when everyone around you has had their DNA tweaked to make them smarter, better looking and more efficient you have to resort to some devious tricks to get by. A look into a dystopian future – or utopian, depending on if you are one of the superior people or not. In this movie you will see people getting around in electric versions of Rover P6s.

Inspector Gadget (1999)

Unlike Robocop (see below) Inspector Gadget centres around a security guard who actually wants to be part robot. With the ability to extend his hands and pop and umbrella out of his head, to name a few of his abilities, Inspector Gadget really is the best cybernetic police officer. Ish. But what electric car would best fit this movie? The infamous GM EV1 of course.

In Time (2011)

In a Logan’s Run type world where people stop ageing at the age of 25 (but then only have one more year to live) there is an underground world of people looking to buy immortality. In this universe Will Salas find himself accused of murder and on the run. And what cars can you see in this movie? A cool futuristic electric car not based on any current model. But if you want to see one view of the potential future of transport, take a look at this movie.

Iron Man (2008)

If you are into electric cars you’ll know about Iron Man. Not because we are all geeks but because a prevailing rumour in the world of electric transport is that Robert Downey Jr based his version of the movie’s Tony Stark on Tesla Motor’s Elon Musk. It’s no surprise then that we see Tony Stark in the movie driving around in a Tesla Roadster. After all, what else is a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist meant to drive?

Along with the GM EV1, The Roadster is an Iconic Electric Car

Along with the GM EV1, The Roadster is an Iconic Electric Car

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Tony Stark is back again in his third self-titled movie but this time he doesn’t drive his Roadster. No – he’s moved on and is siding with European manufacturer Audi and is now behind the wheel of the on-again off-again Audi R8 e-Tron. The last we heard at Transport Evolved, the R8 e-Tron will make it into production for special orders only.

iRobot (2004)

A movie very loosely based on Asimov’s short story collection of the same name. Featuring Will Smith as a detective who’s a little distrustful of all the robots running around the world helping people – all being kept in line by the famous Three Rules of Robots. Of course things go wrong and he has to kick some Robot butt! But how does our hero travel about? Well in a self-driving futuristic car designed by Audi. In the real world this is the Audi RSQ, a 5.4l V10 mid-engined car although we’re fairly sure in the movie it makes no sound so we’re going with the future being all electric here – possibly plug-in hybrid.

Robocop (2014)

When Alex Murphy, a wonderful husband and father – plus all round brilliant cop – is injured in the line of work he finds himself unwillingly augmented and ‘re-built’ as part machine. He becomes Robocop. This is a remake of the 1987 movie of the same name. In once scene, we’re told by our visitors, you can see a ZAP electric vehicle get smashed as collateral damage.

Robot & Frank (2012)

Who wouldn’t want a robot butler than can learn and helps you to eat healthily? Well, ex-jewel thief Frank, that’s who. But soon he learns that having a robot about can be very useful indeed. Watching the trailer for this movie it seems that Frank has a bit of a fondness for walking in the middle of the road, something that nearly gets him run over by a Tango EV.

Don't be Decieved by its Looks and Size, This Car can go 0-60mph in 4 Seconds!

Don’t be Decieved by its Looks and Size, This Car can go 0-60mph in 4 Seconds!

Savages (2012)

Pot growers and friend Ben and Chon end up a bit over their heads when they attract the attention of a Mexican drug cartel who kidnaps their shared girlfriend. In the trailer for this you can see them speeding to her rescue in a Tesla Roadster – albeit one that seems to have developed an odd noisy fault. It seems to be generating a lot of engine noise!

Scorched (2003)

Robbing a bank is very tempting. So tempting in fact that three different employees of the same bank all plan to do just that on the same day, independently from each other. As you can imagine, chaos ensues. In this film the character played by Woody Harrelson owns an GM EV1. And what’s better, there is no over-dubbed engine noise, just the lovely hum of the electric motor. Although fans of the car may have to avert their gaze in the scene where he gets out of the car and forgets to put the parking break on allowing the car to roll down a hill.

Star Trek (2009)

The movie that a lot of Trek fans just plain refuse to acknowledge exists. It brought a modern day big screen budget to the old franchise and along with that came explosions, a new youthful cast and lost of lens flare. What also came with it was an Aptera. A two-seat, three-wheeled vehicle which looks plain cool.

Aptera Motors is No Longer Trading, But Their Aptera Car will Live on in Star Trek. Image used under CC BY-SA 3.0 and taken by Alison Cassidy.

Aptera Motors is No Longer Trading, But Their Aptera Car will Live on in Star Trek. Image used under CC BY-SA 3.0 and taken by Alison Cassidy.

The Million Dollar Hotel (2000)

You always know it’s going to be a great movie when it is described by made up words and phrases. This ‘tragi-comic’ romantic ‘whodunnit’ is set in a hotel with lots of mentally ill people who can’t afford medical insurance. But what car does it feature that makes it join our list? The Gm EV1! Maybe it is only in there for a fleeting second, but it’s there!

The Zero Theorem (2014)

Terry Gilliam’s latest film and as per usual the visuals are a very important part of setting the atmosphere of the piece. So what car was chosen to be the ‘icon vehicle’ of the movie that’s set in the near-future? Why the Renault Twizy. The two-seater tandem vehicle is perfect for the inner city where the film is set. It can weave in and out of traffic, jump off the line and provide all the drivers with that EV grin we all know and love.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

Robots from out of space that can turn into cars and trucks. What’s not to like? Everyone has their favourite autobot and while the modern movies tried to stay true to the original cars and makes for the autobots in some instances they had to change. The plus side of this is that they could work in new cars, like the GM Volt! If you watch carefully, you’ll see a blue GM Volt leading the other autobots into battle.

Waterworld (1995)

Waterworld was a movie with a lot of problems (writing, directing and so on) but a great message. In a future where the polar ice caps have melted most of Earth is underwater and humanity has to survive on the high seas! But how is this done… Well, according to one of our visitors with boats that have an ‘electric mode’.

If you know of any other movies which feature electric cars, let us know and we will update this list. Coming soon – TV shows with electric cars!


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  • Richard Glover

    Hi MarknnLike many people I download public domain stuff to my Kindle, itu2019s all free, and two books Iu2019ve discovered so far give innocent references to electric vehicles long ago. nnOrville Wrightu2019s u201cThe Early History of the Airplaneu201d and Henrik Ibsenu2019s u201cHedda Gableru201d

    • Mark Chatterley

      I can see a series of posts developing. Thank you.

  • Surya

    Great list!

  • Minority Report?n

  • Kalle Centergren

    The Doc in back to the future states that the time machine is electrical, but needing 1,21 gW of electrisity he needs to power it with uranium. nthat got me thinking, would he realy need an exotic powersource to power his EV?nSure 1,21 gW is much power, but he dosent run it for vewry long. nnnin the first time jump he runs it for about a minute, asuming the car draws 1,21 gW continusly during that time (to charge up the flux capasator) nnnlets see, that is 1’200’000’000 W for 1/60th of an houer.. nthat would be 20 MWh or 20’000 kWh. nnnhe would need 236 Tesla model S or 834 nissan leafs,nnnJiks, that car has bad milage.. n i do see now why he neded the uranium..

  • Watchmen?

  • Kalle Centergren

    its not exactly a movie, but i am fairly surtain that in many Donald Duck comics (by Carl Barks or Don Rosa) grandma duck drives an Baker Electric, (their is atleast one comick wher it is shown pluged in)

  • Kieron

    Total Recall Johnny Cab was electric

  • Matt Beard

    I do think I may possibly have just about spotted an Ampera in “The World’s End” 😉

  • Looper, it has a corbin sparrow at the beginning and a axim mega van near the end of the film.

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