Real Electric Vehicles

EV1 missed a great opportunity

Dec 13, 2014

When General Motors decided to build an electric car in the late 1980s, they made a fateful decision that doomed the EV1 to eventual extinction as a clean, green, electric machine.

Way back in 1996 when GM first came out with the EV1 they missed a great opportunity. GM made a ground up new vehicle, they only had seating for 2 people and they used aluminum for the body to reduce weight. So why did they miss the market? We see Nissan with the LEAF also did a ground up design BUT they had seating for 5. Tesla uses an aluminum body but has seating for 5 with options for 2 kid jump seats and 7.

A big reason seating is the KEY to making a vehicle many people can use for many trips. But the real reason they missed is because they didn’t keep making the vehicle. They didn’t all have the vision of the late Robert Stemple past GM president,. He really believed and committed to the electric drive train. He used to attend the Phoenix APS 500 every year and ask the owners and builders what they were up to. Once he stopped at our friend Bill Mulgrew to see how his electric G-van was going 100 miles on a charge. Robert was very involved. I’d love to ask him what he thinks of the LEAF with 200,000 sold so far.

I always felt GM should have converted the Saturn SL, a 5 passenger car to electric. It would have been much lower cost to produce and go just about the same distance and speed as the EV1. They didn’t seem to see that the batteries were the most important part of the car, not weight, aero dynamic or high speed. The Tesla S proved weight is not the only way to get long distance range. Also ACPropulsion Ebox proved aerodynamics are not the top distance piece of the puzzle.

If GM had stayed connected with their Electric program they could have been beyond almost any of the automaker electric car companies programs. Imagine if they made more than Nissan? Imagine what batteries we could have had? Imagine the pollution they could have avoided. I’d even say they could have really ramped up during the car sales drops where many companies had to get Government bailouts. It could have been an EV World much sooner and made GM a leader


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