The film industry has a long history of attempting to predict the future with science fiction movies from the 1980s guessing at artificial intelligence, robots and super computers.
But what of cars? While many directors and screenwriters mused that we’d be cruising around in flying cars, the models of today do offer some of the technology imagined by Hollywood. Take self-parking cars, huge cinema screens in the interior and, of course, electric power.
With electric cars surging in popularity according to latest data, GRIDSERVE has cross-referenced a database of almost 500 all-electric cars of the past, present and future with films spanning 72 years to see if Hollywood is plugging in.
There’s been a 2,967% increase in the number of EVs in films since 2010
In 2010, only three EVs appeared on the big screen, but that number has sky-rocketed since, rising to 92 in 2022 – a 2,967% jump and an all-time high. While it might seem low in actual numbers, it indicates that on-screen EV representation is moving in the right direction.
EV appearances are much more sparse the further back you go. For example, in the noughties (2000-2009), there were 20 appearances of all-electric cars and only 10 appearances in the entire 1900s.
The first on-screen example of an electric car was way back in 1951, when the Baker Electric Stanhope appeared in Excuse My Dust. The car itself predates the film by many years, however, as production started in 1904.
The Tesla Model S appears on the big screen more than any other EV
It’s little surprise that Tesla, the UK's best-seller, takes the top spot. On 75 total appearances, it comfortably trumps the Nissan Leaf (51 appearances) and BMW i3 (49 appearances) in second and third respectively.
In total, Tesla has 176 appearances, thanks to strong showings from the Model 3 (36 appearances), Model X (35 appearances), first-gen Roadster (20 appearances) and Model Y (10 appearances).
Fast X features the born-again DeLorean
As well featuring common electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen ID.3, we’ve seen examples of more interesting EVs popping up on the big screen. The DeLorean Alpha5 – the all-electric answer to one of cinema’s most iconic cars of all time, the DMC DeLorean – plays a role in the latest edition of the Fast & Furious saga, Fast X.
The Alpha5 is yet to be released but could capitalise on the cult following of the original, which didn’t grow in popularity until after Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale cast it as Back to the Future’s time-travelling car. The new model honours its predecessor with the same gull-wing doors and a fresh take on the multi-spoke alloys.
Also taking a prominent role in film is the Chevrolet Blazer EV SS, which aids Margot Robbie’s Barbie with a quick getaway in 2023's summer blockbuster.
You’ve likely never heard of the seventh most popular EV in film
Sitting in seventh place, between the relatively well-known likes of the Renault Zoe and Twizy, is the Bolloré Bluecar. The small four-seater is currently on 29 appearances (mainly all in French language movies), making it more popular than the Volkswagen ID.3 (10 appearances) and Model Y (10 appearances).
Although a subtly designed city car, the Bluecar was actually thought up by Pininfarina, the automotive design giant behind many notable models such as the Ferrari Testarossa and Alfa Romeo 6C.
Half of on-screen EVs are hatchbacks
Despite the ever-growing popularity of SUVs, it’s hatchbacks that account for the largest portion of EVs in film. With 250 appearances out of a total 533, these make up 47% of the results.
SUVs and off-roaders make second, way down on 91 appearances, followed by superminis on 57 appearances. Pick-ups are the least popular car type, with only two appearances across our entire research, which covers 463 films and 72 years’ worth of data.
Starting with a comprehensive list of 462 past, current and future EVs, we then cross-referenced with Internet Movie Cars Database to determine how many films each of the models appeared in. TV series and documentaries are excluded.
The results are also broken down by EV body type and year to give a wider look at EV representation in film and whether this is improving over time.