Running on Empty

Running on Empty

2019, Economics  -   9 Comments
Ratings: 6.35/10 from 62 users.

The writing is on the wall, and on the road. Combustible engines are on their way out, and electric cars are our future. The countries that lag behind this emerging trend are destined to be left in the dust. So argues the new documentary Running on Empty. The film compares the wholehearted embrace of electric car innovation in Norway and China, and contrasts it to the middling interest itќ's generated in Germany.

No other country has more electric cars per capita than Norway. Areas that were once highly polluted are now lined with electric charging stations. The country is meeting its emission goals, and setting the standard for a greener future that other countries can follow. This approach is so widely accepted, in fact, that 65% of drivers in Norway own electric cars.

That number stands at only 7% in Germany. The film explores the reasons why the country falls behind its competitors in this regard, and what this could mean for their global economic outlook.

Germany was once a world leader in automotive manufacturing, but it has been uncharacteristically skittish when it comes to jumping on the electric car bandwagon. As explained in the film, it's largely a matter of political will. Traditional automobiles continue to represent a sizable chunk of their economy, and any drastic changes might temporarily endanger countless jobs. While these challenges are understandably anxiety inducing, the country's snail-like pace on this issue favors short-term success over the trends that will increasingly define our future. Eventually, the great driving innovator will be relegated to riding in the back seat.

The film features a series of panelists - including transportation researchers, economists and a representative from the Germany Transport Ministry - who offer a diagnosis to the issues currently facing German auto manufacturers, as well as a few potential solutions. Most of the panelists agree that Germany will have to reframe the conversation and embrace bold new initiatives in order to regain their standing as a leader in the automotive industry.

Produced by the always engrossing DW Documentary series, Running on Empty effectively outlines what it views as an existential crisis for Germany.

Directed by: Torben Schmidt

More great documentaries

9 Comments / User Reviews

  1. UrbanDweller

    Combustible car or electric cars - no matter - they will be our (humankind's) demise. Excellent and progressive public transportation is the future. Otherwise there is no future.

  2. GunnarInLA

    It's a good documentary...I was a bit surprised that the Germans were "reluctant" about electric cars...I had thought they were pretty aggressively moving in that direction...guess not. – Many blame "capitalism", but that's a very American thing to do in my opinion...all Americans know is AMERICAN "capitalism", but capitalism is shaped by the forces of the overall cultures within which it exists, so I prefer to blame the "political stewards" of capitalism, rather than capitalism itself...and it's quite easy to see the validity of that view. – I don't even see the US as being "capitalistic", I see "gangsterism"...the US as such does not respect laws, rules or rights anywhere – if US "leaders" see something they want somewhere, they start acting in ways utterly at odds with what's legal or legitimate, not to mention ethical...American "wants" become American "interests" and American "interests" will justify American aggression and the rest of the world is assigned the role of "victim"....

    1. thomas

      I am an American I do see what you say as a truth but also see it as world wide . Its all about the money. At the same time I had wrote to general electric hear explaining how it was possible to make an Electric car that would not need to stop at a charging station and plug inn. But rather be self charging. Anyone involved in making the electric car must realize the very simple fact that self charging is not only possible but it is scientific fact. And if we can have self charging autos that means we can also have self charging ship engines and air travel will be self charging so will home heating unites with electric heat. Fossil fuels will no longer be needed. The oil industry will go broke and so there you have it mass kayos will happen because many will be without a job because everything depends upon the oil industry now. The technology is out there to free the world from the heavy hand of the oil industry but it will not happen anytime soon because those who run the oil industry will never except that change without first causing a lot of blood shed. Money certainly is the root of all evil.

    2. kkuhn

      This statement sounds a little in your face but is essentially true, I think.

    3. Jackal

      a great analysis of the American political/economic scene. It is very unfortunate that there aren't more supporters of your opinion. As a Canadian, I see us being dragged into every capitalistic morass that is desired by the bigger corporations within the US. Unfortunately this also holds true for a number of other countries in Europe and Asia.

  3. bfearn

    For the German car makers this is all about $$$. Like so many other crapitalistic corporations putting $$$ before the planet will prove to be disastrous.

  4. francois jobin

    We are in our own extinction because of the petrol industry and capitalism

    1. William Allan

      We are living like kings compared to our for fathers. The petroleum industry and capitalism are responsible . The socialists on this page need to remember that socialism only works until you run out of other peoples' money

    2. LookItUp

      Capitalism is built on the concept that we are constantly devaluing and must exponentially grow eternally in order to stay the same (hence the constant inflation of our currency). It is inherent in our fallacious belief in Net Present Value, which some guy just made up so that he could steal from the poor. We need to rethink our economies to take into account that we have run out of wilderness to conquer and now need to thrive based on maintenance rather than growth. Socialism may or may not be the answer, but capitalism is the economic system that requires constant economic abuse: theft of time, money, and quality of life from the poor to the rich.