General Motors EV1

General Motors EV1

Infobox Automobile

name = General Motors EV1
aka =
manufacturer = General Motors
parent_company =
production = 1996-1999 (1,117 units)
1997 Model Year: 660 units
1999 Model Year: 457 units
assembly = GM Lansing Craft Centre, Lansing, Michigan
predecessor = "Impact" (prototype)
successor = Chevrolet Volt (prototype)
class = Electric car
body_style = 2 seat Subcompact
layout = FF layout
platform =
engine = 3-phase AC Induction
transmission = single speed reduction integrated with motor and differential
wheelbase =
length =
width =
height =
ground_clearance =
front_track =
rear_track =
weight =
top_speed = 80 mph (computer limited)
fuel_capacity = Battery (VRLA from Delphi 53 Ah VRLA from Panasonic 60Ah NiMH: 77 Ah); 120-220 V
electric_range = convert|160|mi|abbr=on (NIMH)
related =
similar = Honda EV Plus Tesla Roadster Chevrolet Volt Concept
designer = General Motors
The EV1 was the first modern production electric vehicle from a major automaker and also the first purpose-built electric car produced by General Motors (GM) in the United States.

Introduced in 1996, The EV1 electric cars were available in California and Arizona as a lease only, as well as through a Southern Company employee lease program in Georgia, and could be serviced at designated Saturn retailers. They were discontinued after 1999 and subsequently removed from the roads in 2003 by General Motors (except for a few). The car's discontinuation was and remains a very controversial topic.



The EV1 was directly based on a prototype vehicle created by AeroVironment called the GM Impact. The Impact in turn was based on design ideas first tested out in a record-breaking race car called the Sunraycer, a solar-electric vehicle the company created in 1987 specifically to win the World Solar Challenge, a trans-Australia race open to solar powered cars only.

The predecessor of the EV1, the Impact, introduced at the January 1990 Los Angeles Auto Show, led to the Zero Emission Vehicle ("ZEV") mandate that year which was intended to curb California's growing problem with air pollution. Other members of what was then the American Automobile Manufacturers Association, plus Toyota, Nissan [ [ Electric Vehicles UK ] ] and Honda, each also developed a prototype ZEV. The ZEV Mandate originally specified that by 1998, 2% of all new cars sold by the seven major auto manufacturers in the state of California were to meet 'zero emission' standards as defined by the California Air Resources Board and 10% by 2003.


GM never offered the EV1 for public sale. It was only available to consumers under a lease program that had a "no purchase" clause disallowing the vehicle's re-purchase at the conclusion of the lease. 660 Generation One EV1s were produced for the 1997 model year, [ [ EV1 VIN Collection ] ] using lead acid batteries; [ [ EV1 Frequently Asked Questions ] ] and each found a lessee.

In December 1999, GM released approximately 200 of the new Generation Two 1999 EV1s with the new nickel metal hydride battery. Over the next 8 months, the remaining 257 Generation Two EV1s were released to certain selected lessees which initiated a lengthy waiting list. [ [ Gen II GM EV1 electric car ] ] In mid 2000, GM closed the EV1 plant. A total of 457 Generation Two EV1s were produced and all were eventually leased.

On March 2, 2000, 450 Generation One EV1s were recalled by GM due to a faulty charge port cable that GM determined would lead to heat buildup and even fire. Despite the initial claim of only sixteen "thermal incidents" and no property damage, at least one fire originating at the charge port actually occurred, destroying the car of Ron Brauer and Ruth Bygness as it charged [ [ The Gen I EV1 Fire and Recall ] ] . This did not affect the Generation Two EV1s. []

Over the next two years, approximately 200 of the Generation One EV1s were re-issued to their original lessees on revised two-year leases including a new limited-mileage clause. [ [ Who Killed the Electric Car: GM and Chevron ] ] The delays were due to design complications in retrofitting the NiMH battery. [Dr. F. Jameson, EV1 Timeline] Due to the tenuous retrofitting process and limited number of recall replacement parts available, GM offered the waiting Generation One lessees the opportunity to terminate their lease at no charge, [] [] or the chance to transfer the lease to one of the few 150 Generation Two EV1s left — ahead of those already on the Generation Two waiting list. [ from the page]

Program cancellation

In late 2003, GM officially canceled the EV1 program. [cite web | first = David | last = Welch | coauthors = Woellert, Lorraine | title = The Eco-Cars | publisher = Business Week | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08 ] [cite web | first = Michael | last = Taylor | title = Owners charged up over electric cars, but manufacturers have pulled the plug | publisher = San Francisco Chronicle | date = April 24, 2005 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-07] Despite unfulfilled waiting lists and positive feedback from the lessees, GM stated that it could not sell enough of the cars to make the EV1 profitable. In fact, during the later stages of development for the car, GM officials claimed that they stood no chance of ever making a profit on the EV1 itself.Fact|date=January 2008 So instead of keeping the cars and allowing the currently built cars to be sold, the company elected to shred all of these cars after numerous promises to reuse the cars. [Who Killed the Electric Car Documentary, 2007]

The company hoped that the EV1 would prove their technology and establish a "leadership" position within the electric vehicle market. GM itself did not expect to turn a profit on electric vehicles for perhaps 6 months after bringing the EV1 to market. Fact|date=February 2007 The end came when GM decided it was cheaper to sue the State of California to roll back clean vehicle regulations than it was to build electric vehicles.Fact|date=July 2007GM stated that they spent over US$1 billion developing and marketing the EV1, though a portion of this cost was defrayed by the Clinton Administration's US$1.25 billion Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) project. [cite web | first = Fred | last = Sissine | title = The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles | publisher = Congressional Research Service | date = February 28, 1996 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-09] [ cite press release | title = Remarks by the President at a Clean Car event | publisher = White House Press Secretary | date = September 29, 1993 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08] [cite web | title = Accomplishments of the National Science and Technology Council | publisher = National Science and Technology Council | date = 1996 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08] All manufacturers seeking to produce electric cars for market consumption also benefitted from matching government funds committed to the United States Advanced Battery Consortium.The estimated research and development costs for the EV1 program to production (prior to marketing and sale costs) was pegged by General Motors as "slightly less than US$500 million".

When canceling the program, GM also cited a lack of demand for the two-seater, particularly in light of its limited range and its suitability to "warm weather" states only.Fact|date=June 2007 During the EV1's development phase, several Northeastern states moved to pass ZEV laws similar to those adopted in California.Fact|date=June 2007 General Motors, along with many other prospective EV manufacturers, opposed this movementFact|date=June 2007 despite the likelihood that such legislation would have vastly increased the market for the vehicle. While this may seem a sinister position to have taken, GM's internal research showed that the EV1's range would be reduced by as much as 50% for use in cold-weather states.Fact|date=June 2007 This was due chiefly to the effect of ambient temperature on both the batteries and the special low rolling resistance tires. Fact|date=June 2007

In 2001, the California Air Resources Board modified the ZEV mandate [cite web | title = Amendments to the California Zero Emission Vehicle Program Regulations | publisher = State of California Environmental Protection Agency | date = December 2001 | url = | format = PDF | accessdate = 2007-01-08] to allow manufacturers to claim partial ZEV credit for hybrid vehicles. General Motors and DaimlerChrysler then sued the state of California and CARB, alleging that the new ZEV rules violated a federal law barring states from regulating fuel economy. [ cite web | title = Air Wars: California's Auto Emissions Laws | publisher = Public Broadcasting Service | date = April 15, 2005 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08] In response, CARB removed the requirement for electric vehicles from the ZEV mandate in 2003, and GM — having produced a product for a mandate and market that no longer existed — cancelled the EV1 program soon after. [cite web | title = California Buckles on Zero Emissions | publisher = Reuters | date = August 12, 2003 | url =,1282,59995,00.html | accessdate = 2007-01-08]

All EV1 leases required return of the vehicle at lease end; the last private EV1 lease expired in August 2003, and the last few drivers held a publicised funeral in Los Angeles on July 24, 2003. [EV1 Funeral] GM charged former lessees for excess wear and for scratches on the EV1s, and insisted on billing ex-lessees for these charges, even reporting non-payment as a charge-off. Upon lease expiration, many cars were put into storage at a facility in Burbank, California. GM donated around 40 returned EV1s to colleges and universities for engineering students, and to several museums including the Smithsonian Institution. [2006 Interview with Chelsea Sexton, "Who Killed The Electric Car" documentary] All the donated EV1s are the original 1997 version, disabled by removal of the controller and batteries. By December, 2003 the last 78 EV1s in storage had been transferred to the GM Desert Proving Grounds in Mesa, Arizona for disposal, much to the protest of their former drivers. All EV1s sent to this site were stripped of their tires and batteries, subjected to an 18" crush, and trucked to smelters in California. [ [ EV1 Graveyard - December, 2003 ] ] There are rumors that a dozen were retained at GM's Michigan proving grounds.

Over 100 people offered to purchase the electric cars and waive such liability as they were able under American consumer product laws. GM consistently refused offers to purchase or re-lease any EV1s, stating that they would be subject to ongoing product liability from both the purchasers and any future owners, and that their internal customer support policies would require them to provide service and replacement parts for the EV1s for at least ten years. [cite web | first = Josh | last = Landess | title = EV1 : Victim of Liability Laws? | publisher = EV World | date = November 24, 2002 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08] GM's suppliers stopped making replacement parts because of low demand, making it impossible to repair the vehicles. [cite news | title = GM'S FORWARD PROGRESS: FACTS VERSUS FICTION | publisher = GM | date = June 23, 2006 | url = | notes = "Who Ignored the Facts About the Electric Car?"] Of particular concern to the company was the likelihood that each leased car's battery packs would require replacement at 25-35,000 mile intervals, and that the very low volumes involved would necessitate the corporation's subsidy of spare parts to private owners, perhaps on an indefinite basis.


The EV1 has been called a failure by business publications such as the Wall Street Journal. [cite web | title = GM, Toyota Bet Hybrid Green | publisher = Wall Street Journal | date = December 12, 2006 | url = | notes = "The EV1 was a failure, as were other electric vehicles"] GM believes that the electric car venture was not a failure, and that the EV1 was doomed when the expected breakthrough in battery technology did not take place. [The Arizona Republic, March 15, 2005] In fact, the NiMH battery packs (or Ovonic Battery) that were expected to dramatically improve range came with their own set of problems; GM had to use a less-efficient charging algorithm (lengthening charge times) and waste power on air conditioning to prevent the battery packs from overheating. [cite web | first = Noel | last = Adams | title = Why is GM Crushing Their EV-1s? | publisher = Electrifying Times | date = December 2, 2001 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08] In addition, the elimination of the environmental mandate that led to the car's creation was, as previously mentioned, a huge factor in the program's cancellation. The EV1 could not have been created without the looming CARB 2% ZEV mandate in California.

The view of the EV1 as failure is a controversial one in itself. When viewed as an attempt to produce a commercially viable EV product, it was not a success. If one considers the vehicle from GM's perspective, as a technological showpiece—a production electric car that actually could replace a gasoline powered vehicle—the program's outcome is less clear. The EV1 was produced for the consumer market, and many lessees found driving an EV1 to be a favorable experience. On that basis, EV1 would qualify as the most successful electric car ever built.

Some analysts have suggested that it is inappropriate to compare the EV1 with existing gasoline powered commuter cars as the EV1 is, in effect, a completely new product and had no equivalent vehicles to be judged against. Perhaps the largest disappointment to consumers is that, having invested the research time and money to invent the technology required to produce the EV1, GM did not continue development of future EV designs. Effectively, the technological advantage GM built through this program was squandered.

It has recently been theorized by the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" that the EV1 program was eliminated because it threatened the oil industry and because it required virtually no maintenance and therefore threatened GM's profitability by undermining the replacement parts aftermarket as well as the company's strategy of planned obsolescence. GM responded to the film's claims, before actually having seen the movie, laying out several reasons why the EV1 was not commercially viable at the time. [cite news | title = GM'S FORWARD PROGRESS: FACTS VERSUS FICTION | publisher = GM | date = June 23, 2006 | url = | notes = "Who Ignored the Facts About the Electric Car?"]


Some universities that were given deactivated EV1s have reactivated them and come under fire from GM for violating agreements. [cite web
url =
title = GM EV1 WWU Resurrection
] [cite web
title=GM to HIT University up with Legal Action over EV-1 that Runs ?? Click to flag this post
] GM reacted sternly to the schools for allowing the cars to be driven on the road, which violated the agreement.Fact|date=August 2008


The price for the car used to compute lease payments was US$33,995 to US$43,995, which made for lease payments of US$299 to over US$574 per month. One industry official said that each EV1 cost the company about US$80,000, including research, development and other associated costs. That itself is right if the technology is not posted to other areas. [cite web | first = Greg | last = Schneider | title = The Electric-Car Slide | publisher = The Washington Post | date = October 22, 2003 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08 That would put GM's total investment at US$89 million, as 1117 cars were produced.] The vehicle's lease prices also depended on available state rebates. In 1999, the cost for the electricity used to power the car was computed to be one-third to half the cost of the equivalent amount of gasoline, and since that time, increases in gas prices may have made electricity relatively even less expensive (depending on customer location, recharging time and electricity billing variations — some utility companies have variable billing for peak vs. non-peak usage rates).


The EV1 was a 'purpose built' electric vehicle, not a conversion of an existing vehicle or drivetrain. The program was initially administered by Kenneth Baker, a GM Engineer who had previously managed the Electrovette program in the 1970s. This program had been intended as an in-factory conversion of the Chevrolet Chevette to electric power but did not reach production owing to technical and production cost difficulties.

General Motors used many advanced technologies in developing the EV1. These included:
*Aluminum frame
*Dent resistant side panels
*Anti-lock brakes
*Traction control
*Heat pump (Heater/AC)
*Keyless entry and keyless ignition
*Special one-way thermal glass to allow for better heat rejection
*Regenerative braking
*Very low drag coefficient - Cd~0.19, CdA~0.36 m² (3.95 ft²)
*Super light magnesium alloy wheels
*Self-sealing & low rolling resistance tires (developed by Michelin)
*Automated tire pressure loss warning system
*Magnesium framed seats
*Time programmable HVAC (cabin heating or cooling) settings

Most of these technologies were included to improve the overall efficiency of the EV1.

The first generation EV1s used lead-acid batteries in 1996 (as model year 1997) and a second generation batch with nickel metal hydride batteries in 1999. Some of the Gen 1 EV1s were refurbished and upgraded to Panasonic lead-acid batteries.

The Gen 1 cars got 55 to 75 miles (90 to 120 km) per charge with the Delco-manufactured lead-acid batteries, 75 to 100 miles (120-to-160 km) with the Gen 2 Panasonic lead-acid batteries, and 75 to 150 miles (120 to 240 km) per charge with Gen 2 Ovonic nickel-metal hydride batteries. Recharging took as much as eight hours for a full charge (although one could get an 80% charge in two to three hours). The battery pack consisted of 26 of 12 V, 60 Ah lead-acid batteries holding 67.4 MJ (18.7 kWh) of energy or 26 13.2-volt, 77 Ah nickel-metal hydride batteries which held 95.1 MJ (26.4 kWh) of energy.

The EV1 was directly based on a prototype vehicle created by AeroVironment called the GM Impact. The Impact in turn was based on design ideas first tested out in a record-breaking race car called the Sunraycer, a solar-electric vehicle the company created in 1987 specifically to win the World Solar Challenge, a trans-Australia race open to solar powered cars only.

A modified EV1 prototype set a land speed record for production electric vehicles of convert|183|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on in 1994.

Consumer experience

The EV1 driving and ownership experience was unlike a conventional gasoline (petrol) or diesel vehicle. The EV1 had the lowest aerodynamic drag coefficient of any production vehicle in history, with a Cd of 0.195, while typical production cars have Cd's in the 0.3 to 0.4 range. [cite web | title = The Ins and Outs of Innovation | publisher = American Plastics Council | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08] As a result, at highway speeds audible noise was significantly less than that of other automobiles. At lower speeds, and at stoplights, there was no noise at all, save for a slight whine from the single-speed gear reduction unit. With its smooth shape and rear fender skirts it had a very distinctive appearance. Vehicle operating information instrumentation was displayed by digital readouts spanning a thin curved strip just under the windshield and well above the dashboard.

The EV1 could accelerate from 0–60 mph (0–100 km/h) in the eight-second range and from 0–50 mph (0–80 km/h) in 6.3 seconds. [ [ EV America USDOE] ] The car's top speed was electronically limited to convert|80|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on. At the time the EV1 (with lead acid batteries) was the only electric car produced which met all EV America performance goals of the United States Department of Energy. [ [ Full Size Electric Vehicles] ]

The home charger installation (required for "fast recharge") was about 1.5 ft×2 ft×5 ft (0.5 m×0.6 m×1.5 m) with integrated heatsinks and resembled a gasoline pump. Charging was entirely inductive, and accomplished by placing a Magne Charge paddle in the front port of the EV1, although GM also offered a convenience charger (120 VAC) that could be used with any standard North American receptacle to slow charge the battery pack.

EV1 drivetrain prototypes

General Motors revealed several prototype variants of the EV1 drivetrain at the 1998 Detroit Auto Show. The models included diesel/electric parallel hybrid, gas turbine/electric series hybrid, fuel cell/electric version and compressed natural gas low emission internal combustion engine version. [cite web | first = Thor | last = Windbergs | title = Motoring into the New Millennium | publisher = Colorado Engineer Magazine | date =1998 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08] In addition, during this period, GM reorganized their electronics divisions (amongst them Hughes Electronics and Delco Divisions) into Delco Propulsion Systems in order to attempt to commercialize this technology in niche markets. Several non-affiliated companies purchased inverter and drivetrain systems from DPS for vehicle/fleet conversion purposes.

The new platform was a four-passenger variant of the EV1, lengthened by 19". This design was based on an internal (GM) program for a more "marketable" EV begun during the proof of concept phase of the EV1's development. During the original EV1 R&D period, focus groups indicated one of the major market limiting factors of the original EV1 was its two seater configuration. GM investigated the possibility of making the EV1 a four seater, but ultimately determined that the increased length and weight of the four seater would reduce vehicle's already limited range to 40-50 miles - placing the first ground up electric car's performance squarely in the pack of aftermarket gas vehicle conversions. Understandably, the company elected to produce the lighter two seater design.

For hybrid and electric vehicles, the battery pack was upgraded to 44 NiMH cells, arranged in "I" formation down the centerline, which could fully recharge in just 2 hours using onboard 220 V induction charger; additional power units were installed in the trunk, thus complementing the 3rd generation 137 hp AC Induction electric motor installed in the hood. Hybrid modifications retained the capability of all-electric ZEV propulsion for up to 40 miles (64.4 km).


The compressed natural gas (CNG) variant was the only non-electric vehicle in the line-up, even though it employed the same up-stretched platform. It used a modified Suzuki 1.0-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder all-aluminum OHC engine installed under the hood. Due to the high octane rating of the CNG (allowing for a greater compression ratio), this small engine was able to deliver 72 hp at 5500 rpm.

The batteries were replaced with two CNG tanks capable of maximum operating pressure of 3000 psi. The tanks could be refueled from a single nozzle in only 4 minutes. In-tank solenoids shut off the fuel during refueling and engine idle, and a pressure relief device safeguarded against excessive temperature and pressure. With the help of a continuously variable transmission, the car accelerated 0 to 60 mph (96.6 km/h) in 11 seconds. The maximum range was 350 to 400 miles, and fuel economy was 60 mpg (in gasoline equivalent) .

EV1 series hybrid

The series hybrid prototype [cite web | title = AutoWorld EV1 Electric: Series Hybrid | url = ] had a gas turbine engine APU placed in the trunk. A single-stage, single-shaft, recuperated gas turbine unit with a high-speed permanent-magnet AC generator was provided by Williams International; it weighed 220 lb (99.8 kg), measured 20 inches (50.8 cm) in diameter by 22 inches (55.9 cm) long and was running between 100,000 and 140,000 rpm. The turbine could run on a number of high-octaneFact|date=January 2008 alternative fuels, from octane-boosted gasoline to compressed natural gas. The APU started automatically when the battery charge dropped below 40% and delivered 40 kW of electrical power, enough to achieve speeds up to 80 mph (128.8 km/h) and to return the car's 44 NiMH cells to a 50% charge level.

A fuel tank capacity of 6.5 gallons (24.6 l) and fuel economy of 60 to 100 mpg (3.9 to 2.4 L/100 km) in hybrid mode, depending on the driving conditions, allowed for a highway range of more than 390 miles (627.6 km). The car accelerated to 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) in 9 seconds.

There was also a research program [cite web | first = Gravel | last = Roland | title = The General Motors/HEV Is Targeted for Consumer Acceptance | publisher = Office of Transportation Technologies | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-07 ] that powered the series hybrid Gen2 version from Stirling engine based generator. The program demonstrated the technical feasibility of such drivetrain, but concluded that commercial viability was out of reach at that time.

EV1 parallel hybrid

The parallel hybrid variant featured a de-stroked 1.3 L turbocharged DTI diesel engine (Isuzu Circle L), delivering 75 hp, installed in the trunk along with an additional 6.5 hp DC motor/generator; the two motors drove the rear wheels through an electronically controlled transaxle. When combined with the AC induction motor which powered the front wheels, all three power units delivered a total output of 219 hp, accelerating the car to 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) in 7 seconds. A single tank of diesel fuel could keep the car running for 550 miles with a fuel economy of 80 mpg. Fact|date=July 2007

A similar technology is used in the 2005 "Opel Astra Diesel Hybrid" concept.

EV1 fuel cell

This variant extended all-electric propulsion capabilities with a methanol-powered fuel cell system (developed by Daimler-Benz/Ballard for the Mercedes-Benz NECAR), again installed in the trunk. The system consisted of a fuel processor, an expander/compressor and the fuel cell stack. The highway range was about 300 miles, with a fuel economy of 80 mpg (in a gasoline equivalent). The car accelerated to 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) in 9 seconds.


On June 30, 2006, a documentary film debuted entitled "Who Killed the Electric Car?". The subject of the film is the demise of the EV1. Much of the film accounts for GM's efforts to demonstrate to California that there was no demand for their product and then to reclaim every last EV1 and dispose of them. A few vehicles were disabled and given to museums and universities, but almost all were found to have been crushed.

According to the film, many EV1 lessees offered to purchase their vehicles from GM at lease-end for the residual price. For instance, US$1.9 million was offered for the remaining 78 cars in a Burbank storage lot (or $24,359 per car). Apparently GM did not entertain any of these offers. Subsequently, the film depicts nearly all of the EV1s being decommissioned by GM crushed and recycled as scrap metal. These are some of the reasons why many analysts question GM's motives. Several weeks before the debut of the film, the Smithsonian Institution announced that its EV1 display was being permanently removed and the EV1 car put into storage. Although GM is a major financial contributor to the museum, both parties denied that this sponsorship contributed to the removal of the display. [cite web | title = Smithsonian dumps electric car exhibit | publisher = Associated Press | date = June 19, 2006 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08] According to the museum, the removal of the EV1 from display was a necessary aspect of its renovation. [cite press release | title = National Museum of American History Announces Major Renovation | publisher = National Museum of American History | date = April 12, 2006 | url = | accessdate = 2006-01-08] The space where the EV1 stood has been filled by Stanley, the unmanned Volkswagen Touareg SUV which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. [cite web | first= Linda | last = Hales | title = An Electric Car, Booted | publisher = The Washington Post | date = June 16, 2006 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08]

According to interviews in the film "Who Killed the Electric Car", many consumers and government officials questioned General Motors' commitment to the EV1 program. Concerns over inadequate marketing and limited vehicle supply have led some to believe that GM intended the EV1 program to fail. One theory is that GM intended to demonstrate that electric vehicles were not commercially viable with 1990s technology, which would [or did] discourage what was at the time a growing public interest in electric vehicles. GM's stated position was to spend US$500 million to produce a workable electric vehicle that could compete and win "heads up" in the marketplaceFact|date=July 2007. The company said that if they could have recouped their investment by selling the vehicles commercially, they certainly would have done so.Fact|date=July 2007 GM never responded to the lessees offer to pay the residual lease value.

Ardent supporters of electric vehicles have been very vocal about the EV1 program's demise. Of particular interest is the leasing program which formally required the vehicles to be returned to GM at lease expiry. General Motors' stated reason for the lease-only option was that, as the modern era's first ground-up electric vehicle, the EV1 could not be expected to maintain its performance level (or affordability in regard to maintenance) over the long run. GM also had significant concerns over long-term liability issues relating to the vehicle. This was partly due to the relatively short R&D period the car was designed and produced under, and the high percentage of "invented on schedule" technology employed in the car as compared with a standard gasoline powered vehicle. While many lessees and prospective owners have complained about the lease-only availability of the EV1, it is important to note that each leased vehicle was in effect heavily subsidized by General Motors. The car was very popular with its lessees, but it was not known if anyone would have purchased a new electric vehicle at the time had it been offered for sale even at a "break even" price of US$35,000-40,000. A higher production volume would have been required for the production cost to be reduced (see: economy of scale).

The process of obtaining an EV1 was difficult when compared to the purchase of any other commuter car. The vehicle could not be purchased outright. Instead, General Motors offered a closed-end three-year lease, with no renewal or residual purchase option. The EV1 was only available from Saturn dealerships (then less prevalent than they are today), and only in California and Arizona (for technical reasons).

Before reviewing lease options, a potential lessee would be taken through a 'pre-qualification' process in order to learn how the EV1 was different from other vehicles (a similar 'buyer familiarization process' was standard for all Saturn buyers). Following this, prospective lessees would be placed on a waiting list with no scheduled delivery date. After an average wait of between two and six months, the lessee would be allotted a vehicle. Installation of a home charger took one to two weeks and cost an additional US$2500 (on average).

According to GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, the worst decision of his tenure at GM was "axing the EV1 electric-car program and not putting the right resources into hybrids. It didn’t affect profitability, but it did affect image." [Motor Trend, June 2006, p. 94] According to the March 13, 2007, issue of "Newsweek", "GM R&D chief Larry Burns . . . now wishes GM hadn't killed the plug-in hybrid EV1 prototype his engineers had on the road a decade ago: 'If we could turn back the hands of time,' says Burns, 'we could have had the Chevy Volt 10 years earlier.'" [ [ Why Toyota Is Becoming the World’s Top Carmaker - Newsweek International -] . Retrieved on 2008-05-19.] In 2008, GM is suffering massive deficits, eclipsing the value of the company, [ [ Big Three bankruptcy worries on rise - Aug. 6, 2008 ] ] in a market with high demand for electric vehicles.

An EV1 is still on display at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, in addition to the one in the Petersen Automotive Museum which appeared in the movie, and which had been leased not by Chris Paine, the director, but by Kris Trexler, the two time Emmy Award winning video/film editor, who once drove it across the country. [ [ Charge Across America] ]

Regarding the new Volt Vehicle itself, GM is taking a completely different tack from that of the EV1, this time involving environmental stakeholders (specifically those from the EV and PHEV community) much earlier in the process. [ [ Green Car Congress: The Chevrolet Volt: GMs EREV a Work In Progress ] ]

ee also

*Electric car
*Chevy S-10 EV, Chevy Truck that used the EV1 technology.
*Plug In America, who started a campaign to save electric cars, like the EV1.
*"Who Killed the Electric Car?", a documentary film about the fate of the EV1.
*"The Car That Could", by Michael Shnayerson (1996 ) ISBN 0-679-42105
*Chevrolet Volt, a concept car designed by General Motors in response to the continued demand for electric vehicles.
*Aptera Motors Typ-1 electric and hybrid vehicles
*List of production battery electric vehicles List of production and discontinued electric vehicles


External links

* [ Eulogy for the EV 1]
* [ EV1 White Paper]
* [ Emissions-free car on trial] , "The Boston Globe"
* [ Chelsea Sexton Interview about] "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • General Motors EV1 — Fabricante General Motors Período 1996 1999 (1.117 unidades) Año Modelo 1997: 660 unidades Año Modelo …   Wikipedia Español

  • General Motors EV1 — Cap …   Wikipédia en Français

  • General Motors EV1 — Hersteller: General Motors Produktionszeitraum: 1996–1999 Klasse …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • General Motors EV1 — General Motors EV1 …   Википедия

  • EV1 (General Motors) —  EV1 peut aussi faire référence à la Saturn EV 1. General Motors EV1, Museum Autovision, Altlußheim …   Wikipédia en Français

  • General Motors — Company Type Public Traded as NYSE: GM TSX:  …   Wikipedia

  • General Motors — Company Rechtsform Corporation ISIN US37045V1008 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • General Motors Ultralite — The General Motors Ultralite was a 1992 low emission vehicle concept car intended to demonstrate the benefits of advanced materials and low fuel consumption. The carbon fiber shell was fabricated by Scaled Composites and it amounted to only 420… …   Wikipedia

  • General Motors — Company Predecesor Motors Liquidation Company (anteriormente, General Motors Corporation) Fundación 1908 (primera fundación) 2009 (reestructurac …   Wikipedia Español

  • General Motors — Pour les articles homonymes, voir GM (homonymie). Création 1908 (à Détr …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”