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EV1 Vigil Ends - GM Hauls Off Last of Electric Cars

Vigilers pledge to fight on for electric car technology with California state legislators next in their sights.

Published: 16-Mar-2005

BURBANK -- 15-March-2005 -- The twenty-eight day, around-the-clock vigil at General Motor's Burbank, California training center ended today, but not without incident. Obviously feeling the pressure from increasing media attention, the world's largest carmaker assembled what one observer called a "train" of seven auto transporters to remove the last of the fifty or so EV1 electric cars parked in the facility's back lot on a quiet suburban street just down the road from Walt Disney Studios.

Yesterday, the company hired three Pilot Transport car carriers to move more of the cars, precipitating a brief confrontation between the Burbank police and actresses Alexandra Paul and Colette Divine who used the former "Baywatch" cast member's Toyota RAV4 EV battery electric SUV to block the driveway, preventing the transporters from leaving the facility. Eventually, police brought in a locksmith who unlocked Paul's electric car and removed both women from the vehicle. A tow truck moved the vehicle and the three trucks headed for GM's Mesa, Arizona proving grounds where they will be crushed. Both Paul and Divine were arrested and handcuffed.

Then today, when GM attempted to move the last of the two-passenger vehicles, Divine used her RAV4 EV to again block the driveway, but in the process was accused of inadvertently bumping into a motorcycle officer who was attempting to keep her from blocking the driveway, escalating tensions at the vigil with police allegedly threatening to arrest her for aggravated assault. Eventually, Ms. Divine was let go without being charged after filing a statement.

All of the remaining 77 once-state-of-the-art electric cars are now headed to Arizona, where they will be crushed.

However, vigil organizers have pledged that while GM may have won this battle, the war is far from over. Paul Scott said that this issue is not going away, citing statistics which show that 100,000 Americans die every year as a result of automobile pollution. He also stated that US soldiers are giving their lives in Iraq because of our need for oil.

Former GM EV1 specialist, Chelsea Sexton, told EV World that she believes GM has no right to crush the cars because US taxpayers have invested $13,000 in state and federal incentives for each car.

"There's tens of millions of dollars in public funding wrapped up in this issue," she said "not even including development funding and infrastructure and CAFE penalties not paid or offset... This is a very large public tax funding issue and GM wasn't entitled to take those cars and crush them, because we paid for them as taxpayers".

She estimates that GM has received as much as $56,000 in payments for a car that only cost $44,000 each. " I don't know of another GM car that commands a $12,000 premium".

Sexton also confirmed that GM has now admitted that there were as many of 5,000 people in California and Arizona who had been placed on a waiting list to lease the car prior to GM's decision to terminate the program. "There were at least six times the number of people on the waiting list as the total number of cars [GM] made available. I kind of call that an unqualified success," she added.

Paul Scott summarized the nearly month-long vigil by saying that the "big point was to get out the message about EVs [electric vehicles] and about that technology. That's the big picture, and hopefully we got that out to a lot of people". He said that he sees his job now is to alert State officials to the fact that the California Air Resources Board "was lied to by GM and Honda and Toyota. There was a demand for this type of technology; and it is more efficient than any other technology on the road, so we should definitely get back into that". He commented that what the vigil was about was Americans who want a choice to be free from oil and free from pollution.

Sexton agreed, saying this story is far from over.

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