Detective Murdoch suspects the ambitious inventor of an electric vehicle murdered an associate who stood in the way of his plans to compete with Henry Ford.
Detective Murdoch and Constable Crabtree investigate the death of Ivan Wallensky who is found hanging in his barn. Dr. Grace quickly concludes that he did not hang himself but was throttled and the scene made to look like suicide. Wallensky was a well-known inventor who held many patents; he had been developing a new battery made of nickel and cadmium at the time of his death.
Meanwhile Inspector Brackenreid learns that his wife Margaret hasn't been truthful about her evenings out and he asks Crabtree to look into the matter.
In the course of the investigation, Murdoch learns that James Pendrick had been Wallensky's partner in the development of the the Pendrick Bullet, a small electric car that can attain speeds of over 50 mph. Pendrick is convinced that someone is trying to stop him from his planned initial public offering to raise the necessary capital to market the Bullet. His primary competitor is the gasoline engine and none other that Henry Ford is in town.
At the race festivities, Murdoch questions why Ford would agree to a race he won't win, Barnes says that Ford cannot turn down a challenge. Crabtree arrives and lets Murdoch know that all four investors have sold their shares in Pendrick's company to Barnes. They no longer have a motive. Barnes tells Murdoch that he bought out the investors because he wants to take over Pendrick's company. Pendrick's a dreamer, and Barnes feels that he needs a profit-minded man at the helm. He only has 45% of the shares and offered Wallensky $50,000 for his. Wallensky turned him down, but then Barnes offered $100,000, and Wallensky said he'd think about it. Barnes is convinced Pendrick knew. All of them have been canvassed and all say that Pendrick was present all night at the investors dinner, but the dinner ended at 7:30, and no one saw him afterwards. Murdoch speculates that in his electric car, Pendrick could have made it to Wallensky's house and killed him before 8pm. Pendrick wins the race. Murdoch congratulates him and then arrests him for Wallensky's murder.
As Pendrick is brought into the station, Alexander Wallensky threatens to ruin him by selling his father's shares to Leslie Barnes. Murdoch asks whether Pendrick was aware that Barnes had offered to buy Wallensky's shares. Pendrick doesn't answer, but states that he had an alibi, to which Murdoch tells him that no one remembers seeing him after dinner, and that he could make it to Wallensky's house in his electric car.
George has done some digging on Mr. Barnes. His business dealings are obscure, but he's the president of a holding company, which has a stake in the Detroit Automobile Company - Henry Ford's company. Ford explains that when he worked for Edison, he met Barnes, who at that time worked for an oil consortium. Ford's cars need oil, so the oil companies would love too see Ford's cars on the streets instead of Pendrick's. Murdoch is confused as to why Barnes would invest in the competition. He questions Pendrick about Barnes trying to gain a controlling interest in his company...he escapes the Station House in his electric car, with Murdoch racing behind him on foot. When Pendrick's car battery runs out, he grabs a gun and runs to Wallensky's lawyer's office. Murdoch catches up to him, but Pendrick points the gun at him and tells him he must stop them because they want to destroy his electric car.
Inside the office, Pendrick finds not only Wallensky and Barnes, but Douglas Meadows as well. Meadows explains that it was simply business. Pendrick is about to shoot Wallensky, when Murdoch grabs him, causing him to drop the gun. Barnes picks it up and hands it to Murdoch, who notices the brand of cigar Barnes is smoking.
Barnes admits that he had been at Wallensky's house the night of the murder, but that it was Alexander and not Ivan that he spoke with. He was hoping the son would convince the father to sell. Alexander and Ivan argued, because Ivan refused to sell, so Alexander killed him for the money.
Alexander is arrested, but he signed over his father's shares, so Barnes and the oil consortium own them anyway. There will be no public offering. Pendrick is ruined, and the combustion engine reigns supreme.
- Thomas Brackenreid confides to Murdoch that he feels the passion is gone from his marriage for Margaret has been lying about her whereabouts recently.
- Crabtree tells Murdoch that the Inspector had asked him to spy on his wife who he suspects is being unfaithful and will have to tell the Inspector. Murdoch tells him to come see him first and he'll be the bearer of the bad news.
- Margaret Brackenreid has been playing the lottery and has won $786 which she gives, reluctantly, to Thomas who later is tempted to use when he runs out of petty cash for his scotch.
- Murdoch drives an electric car, the Pendrick Bullett, for the first time.
- Brackenreid refuses to send Margaret's winnings to the city which Murdoch reminds him is required by law, instead he will put the money into a fund for the widows and orphans of the constabulary– a good compromise.
- Crabtree explains the brights lights seen the nearby fields as Venusians, rather than Martians as teased by Murdoch, for they have a motive to invade because they have sullied their own planet and covet the Earth’s blue skies. Murdoch points out they have no motive to kill Wallensky, staging a suicide and they left tracks.
- James Pendrick returns and makes no mention of his wife, Sally Pendrick.
- Murdoch mentions he trusts in Canadian government bonds, while George invests in the stock market.
- George has investments in Bell Telephone and General Electric, among others, while he suggests the Inspector buy stock in Coca-Cola, Ford's company and Standard Oil.
- The Electric Car returns.
- The name of the episode is a reference to the 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?
- With the line, "You owe it to yourself, Thomas S. Brackenreid", the error in Thomas Charles Brackenreid's middle initial is first made in this episode and will be repeated in Twentieth Century Murdoch, Murdoch on the Corner, and Murdoch au Naturel before it is corrected.
Byron Rouse as Pop Smith
|Murdoch Mysteries Season 5|
|"Murdoch of the Klondike" • "Back and to the Left" • "Evil Eye of Egypt" • "War on Terror" • "Murdoch at the Opera" • "Who Killed the Electric Carriage?" • "Stroll on the Wild Side (Part 1)" • "Stroll on the Wild Side (Part 2)" • "Invention Convention" • "Staircase to Heaven" • "Murdoch in Toyland" • "Murdoch Night in Canada" • "Twentieth Century Murdoch"|
Web-Series: The Murdoch Effect
Season 1 • Season 2 • Season 3 • Season 4 • Season 6 • Season 7• Season 8 • Season 9 • Season 10