EV1, 9, Dies

The loss of the EV1 leaves hundreds of grieving former lease-holders, including washed-up actor Ed Begley Jr. and thousands more electric car lovers.

Published: 02-Mar-2005

ral Motors' EV1 battery-powered car - the first modern electric automobile from a major carmaker - officially died this month, as the last of its limited line of 1,100 vehicles were confiscated from their drivers and consigned to a scrap heap in Burbank, Calif.

The EV1 was 9 years old.
The cause of death, according to the automaker, was a lack of interest from the car-buying public. "There are times you have to make tough business decisions and move on,'' said GM spokesman David Barthmuss, after the company pulled the plug on the wedge-shaped two-seaterBut EV1 enthusiasts from coast to coast suspect the vehicle was the victim of foul play on the part of the Detroit auto giant. Indeed, the 97-year-old carmaker is lavishing its money and affections on hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles as if they were the second coming of Anna Nicole Smith.
 
"GM claims nobody wants electric cars, but nothing could be further from the truth," said John Iozza, a children's entertainer in Everett and a card-carrying member of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Americas.
 
"I tried to get one," Iozza said, "and so did a lot of others I know."
 
Born in 1996 in a GM plant in Lansing, Mich., the futuristic-looking EV1 hit the market at a time of high gas prices and even higher pollution rates - which is to say, a time not unlike today.
 
The cars were hailed for their whisper-soft performance, but worked best in warm climates, and after 100 miles or so had to be recharged for six to eight hours.
 
The EV1's were available to the public only on a leasing basis, fetching between $300 and $500 a month. Most were consigned to California and Arizona. About 100 were sent to Massachusetts and New York to be test-driven by public officials.
 
"I can't find anyone who had one who wasn't in love with it," Iozza recalled. "It was silent. It was quick. It was sexy."
 
Iozza likened the EV1 to riding a high-speed elevator in a skyscraper. "It just whooshed you to the top," he said.
 
Newton Mayor David Cohen was given two EV1s to test drive for the better part (meaning the warmer months) of the past two years. "I thought they were great," Cohen recalled recently.
 
"The feature I liked best about it was, if you drove it carefully, you could recharge the battery and increase the mileage," Cohen said.
 
The EV1 leaves hundreds of grieving former lease-holders, including washed-up actor Ed Begley Jr. and thousands more electric car lovers.
 
Memorial services and a 24-hour-a-day vigil are being held outside GM's Burbank facility, where the remaining EV1s await the scrap pile, save for the ones destined for various museums, including the Smithsonian, according to GM's Barthmuss.
 
"God love them for their passion and enthusiasm and loyalty," Barthmuss said. "They would walk through walls for that vehicle."

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