By on July 4, 2008

gm_ev1.jpgTen years ago, my local electric company invited me to participate in a two-week test of the then-new General Motors EV-1 electric car. After some detailed vetting, including a ten page questionnaire and a long focus group (with the de rigueur one-way mirror), I was selected to receive an electric-powered GM two-seater. For those of you who wonder who killed the electric car, it was me. 

The EV-1 looked as futuristic as its plug-in powerplant. Even today, its wind-tunnel sheet molded exterior has an appealing modernity– despite (because of?) the rear wheel spats. Inside, the EV-1 was a roomy two-seat vehicle– albeit one with a huge center tunnel (concealing a storage area for the batteries).

ev1a.jpgThe lack of rear seats befit the nature of the car, keeping weight and size down. In [partial] compensation, the EV-1 had a large trunk, capable of holding a number of suitcases, a brace of golf bags or other luggage. The conventional notchback coupe-based design offered a trunk that opened on gooseneck hinges, providing a flat cargo area with a netted divider to keep loose items from flying about.

GM's boffins located the control panel for the EV-1's operational functions– radio, AC, four-digit keypad ignition, etc– to the right of the driver's side. The gearshift lever blocked access to some of the key functions. The EV-1's dashboard doesn't sport any traditional gauges or instrumentation. A central control "hump" contained the a speedometer/odometer and the all-important digital battery power readout: teeny-tiny horizontally-stacked ice blue bars signifying the amount of charge left in the batteries. 

ev1b.jpgThe same display could also show the amount of load on the batteries. Coasting on flat Florida lands, the bar graph racked-up two or three bars. With a heavy right foot and the AC blasting, it was one of Hef's Girls Next Door on a bender (nine out of ten bars). 

The bar display frequently disagreed with the amount of miles left display. This was, in part, due to the different methods of calculating the amount of charge. The bar display was more closely related to actual state of charge of the batteries while the amount of miles left display attempts to come up with an average mileage available left based on previous driving habits. On at least one occasion, with twelve miles left on the display, the vehicle ran out of juice, leaving me hunting for a 110 plug.

ev1dwg2.jpgThat said, driving the torquetastic EV-1 was a pleasant experience, roughly equivalent to helming an ICE-powered V6 coupe. I could hit sixty in about eight seconds. The EV-1's rack-and-pinion steering made the car a joy to toss around on twisty roads, and easy to park. Noise was a problem; the whine was not unlike listening to a Singer sewing machine. 

My daily commute was thirty-seven miles one way. With a 75-mile range, every trip was loaded with drama. If I went to lunch, I gave up a few precious miles. That could mean disaster (we're talking southern Florida here). I started driving the EV-1 home with the AC and radio off. I once coasted into my driveway, and pushed her into the garage.

In my two week test, I drove more than nine hundred miles. My total electrical consumption:  approximately $12. This is equivalent to eight gallons of gasoline at $1.50 per gallon (can you imagine?). And that means that "my" EV-1 averaged a little more than 100 miles per equivalent gallon of fuel. This dramatic cost savings is one of the EV-1's shining points. Of course, the EV-1 was also clean as a whistle– at the [non-existent] tailpipe. That doesn't factor-in the carbon expended at the electricity at the coal or oil-powered powerplant, or the risks imposed by nuclear power.

6a00d8341bfbc053ef00e54f4a0d658834-800wi.jpgAs we all now know, GM scrapped the program and crushed all of the EV-1s. And now GM is mounting an alt power comeback with the plug-in electric – gas Volt. While I'm all in favor of start-stop engine technology, I have to wonder what might have been if the EV-1 had continued its evolution. All I know is this: the EV-1 may have been IT. But it wasn't it. 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

149 Comments on “1997 General Motors EV-1 Review...”


  • avatar

    Thanks Michael – we would have been 10 years on the way to true alternative drivetrain development, across a range of car brands, if the car majors hadn’t gone clueless in 2001.
    The repeal of the CA ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) ruling is coming back to haunt GM and Ford.

    I couldn’t believe that they’d pass up this opportunity, but they did. Another hobby horse of mine: there are 35 million Americans living in private or gated communities. Why? Because they want peace and quiet. What do they drive inside their communities? Golf carts – and they would like to have proper EVs, with air conditioning and comfort.

    A huge market, that no one has exploited properly. A few years ago, when property development was still roaring along, I got in touch with a few developers, with a proposal outlining a range of vehicles – from service vehicles up to personal transport solutions – all EV. They were ecstatic. But getting manufacturers to bite was nothing but trouble …

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel C

      I am just learning more about EV,s  I do know that electric cars would be the way to go less gas used the better off we would all be. I drive a older chevy pickup back and forth to work and I would love to have a EV to go to work but at this time just can’t afford one. If anyone has an Idiea on were to get one for a reasonable price let me know. We all need to wake up and start saving the world we live in.

  • avatar
    happy-cynic

    Stein, I agree, the auto industry missed a huge opportunity. As the review pointed out, it seems another reason why the EV died is because the consumer has a mindset about the range of an EV. We are used to gassing up going 300 to 400 miles without refueling while the EV needs to be plugged in. To bad we could not escape that wall.

    After I saw “Who killed the electric car” I was angry and thought GM woes are well deserved, but it was other companies that rolled over as well.

    As for big companies in general, they pretend the are all about change and new ideas, but based on my personal experience, that is not the case.

    I used to work for small high-tech company. It was fun. Then my company got bought by a huge famous high tech company. They treated us ok, but a steady stream of senior exes got pushed out, and other left. There where a couple of hold-outs. I know one of the marketing folks. He told me that one of the main reasons why he left is because if an had an idea, it would have to go through 10 layers of management for , approval by then the “new” idea was already old. While the big company was getting our “process down. Our product was falling behind. Now 18 months later, they realize that we are behind, and after laying off some engineers from one group, they now realize they have to hire more people from the department that suffered lay-offs a few months ago.

  • avatar
    skysharad

    Thanks to the oil lobby, EV1 was a failure…

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Thanks, this was a review of an interesting car. Too bad GM put more effort into fighting CARB than refining their PEV.

    The EV-1 would be perfect for me, as I only commute 12 miles, round trip. I wouldn’t even have to plug in every night, and I could play the radio and run the AC w/o worry. Of course, my old Raleigh is even more economical.

  • avatar
    limmin

    Good riddance to the EV-1.
    Completely impractical range and chock full of batteries that threatened the environment. GM simply had to crush the things to shield itself from future liability.
    I, too, saw the nonsensical “Who Kill the Electric Car”. That movie would’ve been more valid if its main EV-1 proponent wasn’t a disgruntled former GM employee.

    As for author’s use:
    An inaccurate fuel gauge? Barely coasting into one’s driveway? Is this a safe vehicle? And the 0-60 time of 8 seconds is do-able…once or twice. I’ll bet it killed the range, however. 15 seconds is more realistic, at which time you’d be flattened by a semi.

    Sure, the EV-1 should’ve progressed to the world’s first hybrid. Then again, GM didn’t have billions to develop that tech. The Japanese govt financed the Prius. Not that hard when you’re given a blank check…..

  • avatar

    I disagree, limmin.
    The EV1 was an excellent starting step – they were also perfectly aware that they had to consider creating a four-seater, and that they might need hybrid solutions, given the limitations of battery technology then. Enormous strides have been made in the latter.

    You should have seen the gas turbine version they had in development — battery/turbine hybrid. Would have parked the Prius.
    While they were busy killing the EV1, Toyota launched the Prius. GM went into defensive “will never work and is impractical” mode – now look who’s laughing.

    Ford actually had the better car, in the Think City, but they killed that. But the EV1 was an excellent concept and try-out vehicle – after gathering realworld feedback they should have launched a modified and improved version – and then, today, we would have seen the next generation vehicles we really need, on our roads.

    Instead, GM is reduced to trying to create something out of thin air with the VOLT, while the company is woefully out of funds and fresh ideas.

    BTW – for what it’s worth. The average daily trip covered with a car in the U.S. is just over 30 miles — which means that literally tens of millions of vehicles (I’m being conservative in my estimate) don’t need greater ranges.

    And even with increased electricity prices the equation still favors the vastly more efficient electrical motors over ICE.

  • avatar
    doktorno

    Stein, a hybrid turbine? Would like to have seen that one. Makes a sense as the turbine could be designed to burn just about anything, and function only as a generator. With Honda’s experience building turbines with GE I keep hoping they will be the one to take the step.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    I was in Basel (Switzerland) the other week; the Hilton Hotel is one of several places that offer recharging facilities for electric cars. Yes, there were several Fiat Panda Elettricas and Renault Twingo Elettricas to be seen. Progress marches on, with or without GM (I say this without irony).

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    It is extra disappointing to see that GM was actually close to being on the cutting edge of something, albeit an edge with some glaring flaws. Just think of what could have come of this if it received continual development instead of the crusher. Back then, GM’s cash cows were on overtime pumping profits into the bank. They could have easily continued to refine this beast. Just think of the payoff today? Anybody recall the early ads for the Olds Quad Four? An engine was being held in the air by a racially diverse group of UAW members and the tag line was “The Vision is Paying Off.” We all know how that vision went, but the EV-1 could have been a great part of a balanced portfolio of products.

    BTW, Stein X, a “gated community” is not a community once access is limited to a select few. When I go to my folks to visit I have to punch a code to be allowed the privilege to enter the land of lawn, lights, water fountains and manicured living. How revolting. I’ll put up with the occasional stranger any day.

  • avatar

    limmin:

    How fast to do you think people accelerate in typical driving? Probably about twenty seconds to 60.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Anyone remember this article?

    “The Insight failed because it only had two seats.”

    “The Honda Insight came to market first…but aside from city commuting it was worthless as a daily driver.”

    “…the Insight wasn’t practical at all. It was a technology exercise.”

    So what does the Insight have to do with the EV1? A couple of things, the EV1 is a two-seater just like the Insight. The EV1 also has minimal cargo carrying capacity like the Insight. But unlike the Insight, the EV1 was beset by extended charging times and a limited range, and it was expensive as hell.

    The Insight was deemed unsuccessful despite it’s insanely high mileage because it was declared impractical. Wouldn’t these be the same problems that kill the EV1 had GM decided to put this car into production?

  • avatar

    @golden2husky

    I share Walter Kulash’ view when it comes to developing alternative cars: they should be made to work in real environments. He, too, finds the gated communities anathema – and he has instead dedicated himself to creating liveable environments out of the tarmac we’ve dedicated to monster cars, at the expense of sensible pedestrian habitats mixed with cars sized to interact with pedestrians.

    That said. If the future of “my” car platform hinges on my finding a market where I can develop it, and no other car manufacturer is delivering solutions specific to a market comprising 35 million people, then I’d go for it.

    The average number of cars owned by those living inside such communities is (was) 3.7. Just make one of those an EV and you have a multi-billion dollar market going.

    We’ll be flex-driving in the future. A lot will solve their multi-car needs through car-sharing (check out Philly CarShare, for instance. Growing with 4000 new members/month.)
    Others will have a small, handy and energy-lean vehicle on hand for most of their motoring. And a larger vehicle for those rare occasions where one is really needed (and they are rare – tradesmen and women excepted. I’m discussing private motoring.)

    Detroit did their customers and themselves a great disservice with the inane focus on large margin top spec’d vehicles. And let’s not just blame Detroit – in the end everyone got in on the game, even Audi, which already had 4×4 wagons, what did they have to make the Q7 for?

    Water under the bridge – everything’s changing now.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Are there really more people in gated communities in the US than in the whole of Canada?

  • avatar

    The definition of private/gated communities also extends to exclusive suburban areas. Don’t have the exact statistics here now, but going by the value of the homes in 2005, that was the number – and projected to grow to plus 50 million by 2020. (That may change with the downturn in building activity now.)

    @ quasimondo

    The EV1 was never for sale. It was leased to customers, and remained the property of GM. It was a test vehicle, created in order to collect real world data that would be used to develop a range of vehicles that would be sold to customers.

    The SmartForTwo doesn’t seem to suffer much from being a two-seater? But I will admit that people are more willing to drive with the number of seats they actually use today! :-) (75% of all trips in a car, in the U.S., are with a single occupant in the vehicle.)
    http://www.smartusa.com/

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It’s very simple, really. Until someone figures out how to make electric cars that can be recharged in less than five minutes, they are doomed to fail.

    A car that cannot be refueled on the fly is impractical for the average consumer. As nasty and evil and dirty as oil is, it has the advantage of being easy to transport and store, which makes it an ideal fuel for the masses until we choke to death on it, run out of it or find something better.

    The Volt concept may have some potential. I’d feel better about its prospects if someone else was making it.

  • avatar
    rodster205

    lemmin said:
    “Then again, GM didn’t have billions to develop that tech. The Japanese govt financed the Prius. Not that hard when you’re given a blank check…..”

    Not true, and not true. The Japanese gov’t didn’t finance the Prius. And guess what? GM DID have billions to develop it. Do you not remember how much money GM, Ford, and even Chrysler made in 2000-2005? Billions, selling trucks and SUVs for $5-10K over cost. Even lowly Chrysler was wallowing in cash and profits. So where did all this money go? The Harvard Business School graduates “invested” it in more truck and SUV development, because that’s where the profits were right then.

    And explain this to me again… How exactly does Rick Waggoner still have his job?

  • avatar

    The author responds:

    An inaccurate fuel gauge? Like most of today’s cars, the miles left calculation is always and estimate. However with short range it was more important to be accurate, something that the vehicle lacked to a degere.

    Barely coasting into one’s driveway? Only on one occasion. My commute was longer than average and with a longer lunch that day…

    Is this a safe vehicle? As best I could tell, yes.

    And the 0-60 time of 8 seconds is do-able…once or twice. No it was easily repeatable. Unique thing about electric cars is that they have a flat full on torque curve from stand still. Each drag race costs an extra 5 miles or so of range. What week-ends are made for.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    I was thinking the other night about electric cars (EV1 and perhaps someday the Volt) and I realized that we now have some tech that we didn’t have in EV1 days which could really help make them work smarter.

    If they implemented a GPS navigation system, and you told the car where you are going, a computer could calculate a reasonable estimate on how far it needs to go. Modern nav systems even know the elevation of the path so it can factor in hills.

    A nav system could also know where charging stations are, should the car run low on power and need to be topped up.

    It could measure the outside temperature and estimate how much heat or cooling would be desired.

    If the nav system were coupled with a comm system (even a low bandwidth data cellular network like the new 3G iPhone uses), then the nav system could ask for and receive real time traffic conditions, and weather predictions.

    The last item would be a scale that measures the weight of the vehicle. This can be measured at the suspension system.

    With all this information, the car could better strike a balance between comfort and distance. It could tell if it had enough power to go where you wanted.

    The reviewer mention how he had to do all this calculations in his head. With a good nav system, the car can do all of this. I think such a feature would go a long ways towards alleviating the fears people have of getting stranded by one.

    None of this is revolutionary.. it all exists today. Nor is it super expensive. It only needs to be brought together to make a smarter car.

  • avatar
    zenith

    As someone who commutes 28 miles round trip for work, in a vehicle that takes probably that “slow” 15 seconds to get to 60 and hasn’t been flattened yet, I’d like an electric car that; like the EV1; represents something more substantial than a golf car.

    Charging-up every other day would not be a problem, nor would topping-off every day in winter, to compensate for heating use.

    Many people in my area have engine heaters for winter, so they already have the handy outlets and extension cords needed to plug a car in every night.

    BTW, on the subject of attempted flattenings, semi drivers are business-like enough to not want to risk screwing up their delivery schedule. I fear the Urban Cowboy/Cowgirl with his/her oversized penis substitute/penis-envy statement far more.

  • avatar
    SaturnV

    Interesting review. I didn’t know there was to have been a turbine-powered serial hybrid version. That would have been a winner, if only they have kept developing it.

    I tend to agree with Pch101 – it’s the refueling time that’s going to hurt a pure EV as a mass-market vehicle. That’s why I think a serial hybrid (engine to charge the batteries, and if big enough, power the car while charging) is a good way to go. You get the advantages of an EV for short trips, with the range of a normal gas car if you want.

    -S5

  • avatar

    Here’s a thought.

    The companies that make the cars don’t drill for oil or ship gasoline.
    They focus on building cars.
    And then us car owners drive to the gas stations to refill.

    Why the heck can’t we think in the same manner when it comes to EV vehicles? And have the manufacturers accept a standard battery pack?

    Said pack would then be easily replaced at the recharging stations.

    I would think the company that sets this up will own EV motoring.
    Replacing the pack would take a few minutes.

    However, as one who has a neighbor with a THINK City vehicle, I don’t see them having any trouble at all. They recharge every evening and take quite long drives with their car.

  • avatar
    crazybob

    Battery-electric vehicles will always suffer from two very significant handicaps: refueling time and range. This isn’t just because of immature technologies or slow development, it’s down to laws of physics:

    1) Range
    The very best batteries currently in theoretical development have 1/18 the energy density of gasoline, and the best commercially available batteries have only 1/86 the energy density of gasoline. This means that for a given weight of ‘fuel’ there has to be a penalty in range and/or performance equal to this ratio. It’s not like this development is being hampered by our dependence on oil, either, because it’s not just cars that would benefit from better batteries – laptops, mobile phones, MP3 players, and hundreds of other technologies are already driving this development.

    2) Refueling Time
    If we ignore battery technology and assume we have created an electric car most drivers would accept, refueling time is still going to be an issue. Recharge time is currently limited by the batteries, but the bottleneck will very quickly shift to electricity delivery. Assume you were to develop an electric car with approximately 100 hp and a 300-mile range, and you were willing to wait 10 minutes for a charge-up at a gas station. Delivering electricity at that rate would require each filling station to have its own electrical substation. You would connect not a wire but a 6-inch bus bar to your car, then step back to a safe distance in case anything exploded. It’s difficult for most people to comprehend how much energy a pipe full of gasoline carries, but if you tried to match that with electricity, any reasonable wires would just melt.

    I believe electric cars are the future, but not battery-electrics. Neither are hybrids, as they don’t solve our gasoline problems so much as delay them. No, the future will be hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric cars, which suffer from neither of the above drawbacks. Yes, fuel cells have some problems, but none which are insurmountable.

  • avatar
    skor

    Back in 1996, I was seriously considering a DIY EV using a small Ford Ranger 2WD pick-up. The advantages of a small pick-up for the conversion is that the battery pack can be installed under the bed between the frame rails. This leaves the cab and bed as original. The plan was to use deep-cycle lead acid marine batteries. After doing all the calculations, this EV conversion would have had a range of about 70 miles @ 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Manual trans, no a/c, no power anything except for lights, radio and cabin fan. What stopped me was the battery life. The battery pack would have cost about $2,500 and lasted for 15,000 at best — the vehicle range would steadily decrease as the batteries got older. Than I would have needed another battery pack @ $2,500.

    Here are my minimum requires for EV:

    Cost equal to comparable gas powered car.
    Range of at least 100 miles in mixed driving.
    Recharge of of more than 4 hours.
    Battaries that last 100,000 miles before they need replacing.

    I don’t see the above happening anytime soon.

  • avatar
    cleek

    Crazybob hit the nail on the head.

    The electic development is all well and good, but as a practical matter who is going to provide right of way for new power plants and transmission lines to be run with in view of their homes?

    Also, I wonder who will indemnify the “evil electric companies” for the ration of careless/foolish who ZOT! themselves?

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    It’s very simple, really. Until someone figures out how to make electric cars that can be recharged in less than five minutes, they are doomed to fail.

    Maybe not. They just won’t be for everyone. I could commute back and forth to work M-F w/o ever recharging (assuming 75 mile range). Even if I had to recharge one night a week, what’s the problem plugging in before I go to bed and unplugging when I go to work ? Why does this need to be reduced to 5 minutes?

    Granted, if you can’t do your daily driving and get home before the batteries run down you’re screwed, and therefore not going to buy a PEV. But this doesn’t mean no one can make use of them.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Even if I had to recharge one night a week, what’s the problem plugging in before I go to bed and unplugging when I go to work ?

    The electric car has existed since the 1890′s. If these sorts of challenges didn’t pose a problem, we would have been selling them in large numbers over the last 110 years.

    If cars cost $29.95 and could be folded into something the size of a cardboard box, it wouldn’t matter — you could stack a pile of them in the garage and grab whatever one was handy as you needed it. But cars are the second most expensive item people will buy and they consume a lot of space, so it is important for most people to have a vehicle that serves most of their needs.

    Gasoline sets the benchmark — you can obtain it in about the same amount of time that it takes to get a quart of milk at a convenience store. When a car needs hours to refuel, that’s a problem because it compares quite poorly to gasoline in this respect.

    There are sound reasons why the market has not taken to them, despite talk for decades about how wonderful they are. When companies don’t listen to their customers, they tend to lose money. Recharge time matters; nobody wants to make a habit of coasting into their driveway and sweating buckets on the drive home just because he decided to go out for lunch.

  • avatar
    factotum

    Supercapacitors, not batteries, are the future of pure-electrics and hybrids. “Our analysis shows that the utilization of a matrix of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes as electrode structure, can lead to an ultracapacitor characterized by a power density greater than 100kW/kg (three orders of magnitude higher than batteries), a lifetime longer than 300,000 cycles, and an energy density higher than 60Wh/kg.” (MIT Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems)

  • avatar

    @Pch101

    Gasoline is a vastly better method of storing energy for automotion; however, the price of gasoline is being adjusted, and people are looking into an alternative. With improved battery technology, the better power to work ratio of electric motors may become a contender. An ICE engine wastes enormous amounts of energy compared to the work it delivers in moving a vehicle along a surface. (Though there’s lots of room for improvement.

    @ factotum
    BMW has struggled with supercapacitors for years – thinking they needed them to deliver the boost of force people associate with BMWs. But recharging supercapacitors is a challenge — though as your link points out, this may be improved.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    An ICE engine wastes enormous amounts of energy compared to the work it delivers in moving a vehicle along a surface.

    From the consumer’s standpoint, the wastefulness isn’t terribly relevant, just so long as it is cost effective and the efficiency is adequate enough to make the product useful.

    Take an apple. For its weight and volume, it contains far less energy (calories) than a nutrition bar. Yet we still eat apples, not just because we like them, but also because they contain enough energy to serve our need for calories. The fact that apples aren’t the most efficient delivery mechanism of energy doesn’t matter, just so long as they provide enough of it.

    True, most of an internal combustion engine’s energy is wasted and expelled as heat. Yet it is quite easy to build a vehicle that can travel between 200 and 600 miles, depending upon what it is, and that can be refueled very quickly.

    Therefore, from the end-user’s standpoint, the inefficiency of the ICE poses no burden; the output as it stands now is more than adequate. The greater issue of inefficiency is the factor of time involved in refueling.

    People don’t mind giving out some heat, but they terribly mind committing hours of time to something that can be done quite quickly otherwise. The whole point of the automobile is to allow us to move more quickly; long refueling times are antithetical to the core motivation for having them in the first place.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    I was just looking at one of the remaining EV1s in the Petersen Auto Museum off Wilshire in West LA. This car would have been extremely practical for my commutes. My old commute was about 8 miles each way. Augment that with something that has more range, like a Prius, pickup or 350Z, and it would certainly work out well.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    I’d love to see a PEV with a modular, easy-to-access battery pack with its drivetrain interface cleaned up. Worried about range on a long trip? Pack a spare. When you run out of juice, wrestle in the topped-up one.

  • avatar
    Rix

    PJ: The battery pack is over a hundred pounds on a Prius. And any future pack is likely to be the same or larger, as we go for higher ranges, offsetting any increase in energy density. So it’s not gonna be easy without a handcart regardless…

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    golden2husky wrote:
    When I go to my folks to visit I have to punch a code to be allowed the privilege to enter the land of lawn, lights, water fountains and manicured living. How revolting. I’ll put up with the occasional stranger any day.

    Huh? It’s a private property. Do you lock your home and your backyard when you go to work? How dare you? You have something against strangers?

    As for the EV-1, it was a combination of range and recharge time that killed it.

    I still think there is no escaping the future of electric cars. That is the only realistic way to clean up the environment and cut ourselves off from the ME. And yes, I believe some form of a supercapacitor or a hybrid thereof will likely lead us there.

  • avatar

    If there’s room in the car for an extra battery pack, then you can engage it with a simple switch, I should think … and it would probably be best to just be drawing off both.

    A modular pack, standardized, that could be switched at stations en route is being suggested by various parties — but getting the car makers to conform to a standard is just about impossible.

    Still, there’s a disconnect here (pun intended). We let other companies supply our gasoline — the carmakers should collaborate on standardizing battery packs. Makes more sense than spending zillions on hydrogen stations.

  • avatar
    limmin

    I’m really growing weary of the old mantra: “The average commute is less than blah-blah miles, so an electric car is all anyone needs….”

    That’s how people have been justifying these outlandish electric or hydrogen cars.

    Such a conception just stinks of socialism: each according to his/her need.

    If my commute were a mile, would a bicycle be “all I need” ???

    My commute is 11 miles or so. But since I live in America, and since I believe that unlimited oil is my birthright, my commute is ANY length I want it to be.

    The toyota hybrids are a success because they allow a (figurative) unlimited commute. There are no compromises. The EV-1 was all about compromises. The EV-1 was all about advanced trip planning. This is enjoying life?????

    The EV-1 lost not because of a secret GM conspiracy. It lost because it didn’t tap into the true spirit of America: that the greatest privilege in this country is the potentially unlimited commute. The side-trip to McDonalds to or from work, the extended shopping lunch, the multiple errands after work at a shopping mall 30 miles away.

    America isn’t about going to work and coming home. America is about going to anywhere, and coming home at anytime. America isn’t about where you go, it’s about where you want to go.

    I firmly believe that Toyota had govt help in developing hybrids. I also firmly believe that Toyota dumped and is dumping the car on our shores, at below cost.

    But at least the Prius grasps what it truly means to live here. The EV-1 could never figure that out. Shred them all. Shred that dumb movie too.

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    “I firmly believe that Toyota had govt help in developing hybrids. I also firmly believe that Toyota dumped and is dumping the car on our shores, at below cost.”

    Where is the proof? And don’t forget that GM actually did get government incentives to develop hybrids through the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles.

    “But since I live in America, and since I believe that unlimited oil is my birthright, my commute is ANY length I want it to be.”

    Scary. Would you support attacking other countries to obtain more oil?

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    The electric car has existed since the 1890’s. If these sorts of challenges didn’t pose a problem, we would have been selling them in large numbers over the last 110 years.

    Actually they were quite functional, and sold into the 1920s. They were actually preferred by many people who lived in cities. But, if the average person had to choose between an electric at double their yearly salary, or a Model-T at 1/4 their yearly salary, it became a very obvious choice. This is still a problem with electrics – too expensive – though the Prius hybrid is showing that they needn’t necessarily be. But my point is simply that the range isn’t a problem for a lot of people. More hybrids will be sold, (and more ICE only cars) because they meet the needs of more people, but that doesn’t mean a PEV can’t be useful too.

    Additionally, most people didn’t have multiple cars in the early 1900s. Today most families do, and for many a PEV might be a very reasonable 2nd car.

    There are sound reasons why the market has not taken to them, despite talk for decades about how wonderful they are. When companies don’t listen to their customers, they tend to lose money. Recharge time matters; nobody wants to make a habit of coasting into their driveway and sweating buckets on the drive home just because he decided to go out for lunch.

    But not everyone is going to need a lot of range, and quick recharge, just as not everyone needs an SUV.

    I could go to work, run a couple errands after work, drive to the next town to check on my elderly mother, stop at the pub on the way home, and never come close to draining the batteries. At that point an overnight recharge wouldn’t be a problem for me.

    OTOH, when driving to the Air Guard base once a month, I couldn’t even make it on one charge. It just depends on what one’s needs are.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I’m really growing weary of the old mantra: “The average commute is less than blah-blah miles, so an electric car is all anyone needs….”

    That’s how people have been justifying these outlandish electric or hydrogen cars.

    Such a conception just stinks of socialism: each according to his/her need.

    This doesn’t make sense. How does it stink of socialism to recognize that different people have different needs? No one has said that a PEV is all ANYONE needs, just that it fits the needs of many people.

    America isn’t about going to work and coming home. America is about going to anywhere, and coming home at anytime. America isn’t about where you go, it’s about where you want to go.

    As an American, am I allowed to decide what America means to me? Am I allowed to decide for myself what meets my needs, or have you appointed yourself the arbiter of all American’s driving needs?

  • avatar
    improvement_needed

    pch101:

    you make a valid point about the waste energy from an ice. Today, tomorrow, and for the past 100 years, this was/is a moot point.
    however, if projections on oil demand along with a diminishing supply hold true, this point will become significantly important. Imagine if you could burn your gasoline and get double or triple the driving range – would be a pretty good thing…
    I imagine that if people could adapt a technology that would cut their fuel bills in half (or more), it would be adapted…
    of course, the benefits ‘must’ outweigh the ‘costs’, more/less for large market adaptation…

  • avatar
    rudiger

    limmin: “But since I live in America, and since I believe that unlimited oil is my birthright…”Most people will likely interpret such a statement as being written either tongue-in-cheek or head-up-ass. I sincerely hope it’s the former, and not the latter.

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    This was an excellent review, particularly since the car hasn’t been driven in many years. It made me miss my EV1 (I’m pretty sure it’s one of the green ones in the left stack).

    It’s a shame the author didn’t have access to the NiMH EV1. The second-gen car had a dramatic range improvement, upwards of 200 miles if one was careful. A day of drag racing would still get you close to 100 miles. The new batteries took the car from being a science project to something you could use in your daily drives without fear. The “long lunch” worry evaporated, for example.

    And as for fill-ups, I found the EV1 far more convenient than my gas car. I came home, plugged in the car, and went about my evening activities. The car had a full “tank” every morning, which actually reduced my time spent fueling vehicles. My gas car sat most of the time.

    The EV1, despite its GM-grade assembly quality (too many poor materials and defects to list), was a wonderful car. It was quick, smooth, sporty, head-turning, and a pleasure to get into every morning. I miss mine terribly.

  • avatar
    limmin

    “Most people will likely interpret such a statement as being written either tongue-in-cheek or head-up-ass. I sincerely hope it’s the former, and not the latter.”

    It’s neither. It’s merely the truth.

  • avatar
    John B

    Limmin wrote: “I also firmly believe that Toyota dumped and is dumping the car on our shores, at below cost.”

    How cool of Toyota to provide subsidized transportation to us North Americans. And to think that I once believed they were a profit seeking corporation.

    Dynamic88:

    Regarding early electrics, check Jay Leno’s garage where he reviews his Baker electric. Leno mentioned the big attraction of such cars was no need to start an engine. This was a big concern until the invention/adaptation of the electric starter. I believe he mentioned the largest market for the Baker was women who couldn’t start or didn’t want to risk injury cranking an internal combustion engine.

    At $4 per gallon gasoline, I would be interested in how the market would now view the limitations vs advantages of the EV-1 (esp. given current technology).

  • avatar

    @limmin

    It’s a nice cushion for the numbskulls in Detroit who didn’t clue into what Honda and Toyota saw: they had gov’t support.

    They didn’t.
    Toyota developed the Hybrid Synergy Drive and the algorithm behind the energy distribution between battery and ICE all on their own. In fact, it’s the algorithm that’s the big secret. Other carmakers have not been able to come up with anything as efficient, and have ended up with huge battery drains. (That’s why Honda’s hybrid didn’t get the silent start, for instance; and why Ford leased Toyota’s algorithm.)

    And if you’ve been paying attention, both Fields of Ford and Lutz of Klutz have made serious noises about the need for some gummint money, pleeeeaaase, to help them get out of the corner they’ve backed themselves into.

    As to it being your birthright to consume as much oil as you damn well please – absolutely. Though your statement also leads me to believe you’re a patriot through-and-through — particularly appropriate today.
    Since the U.S. has 4% of the world’s known oil reserves, and consumes 25% of the world’s oil production — the kind of attitude on display from you actually contributes to a serious, strategic weakness for the U.S. A weakness that is increasingly apparent now that oil prices are skyrocketing.
    You’d do your nation a favor if you took a long, hard look at the oil and birthright equation.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    But not everyone is going to need a lot of range, and quick recharge, just as not everyone needs an SUV.

    The point, though, is that the marketplace has spoken, and it has voted against electrics. If it wanted them in their present form, it would be clamoring for them and the automakers would be providing them to fulfill the demand.

    You may personally not believe that range matters, or that recharge time matters. I’m sure that there are a few people who agree with you.

    However, there are not enough such people who agree with you to make it happen. If they can’t sell at least 50,000-100,000 of them every year at middle-class prices, it isn’t worth the money and effort to build it.

    If the domestic automakers teach us anything, it’s that ignoring the customer leads to losses and brand destruction. If consumers don’t want it, they don’t want it, and there’s no point in hoping that they change.

    if projections on oil demand along with a diminishing supply hold true, this point will become significantly important. Imagine if you could burn your gasoline and get double or triple the driving range – would be a pretty good thing

    The cost would have to be disproportionately high in order for the market to accept the trade offs and range. I doubt that we’re anywhere near that threshold just yet.

  • avatar
    trk2

    That’s why Honda’s hybrid didn’t get the silent start, for instance; and why Ford leased Toyota’s algorithm.

    I would love to see the source for your statement that Ford leased Toyota’s algorithm. According to both companies, Ford’s hybrid system was developed totally independent from Toyota’s. They just happened to infringe on some of Toyota’s patents. To resolve the issue Ford licensed the patents in return for providing Toyota a license on some of Ford’s diesel patents.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    The point, though, is that the marketplace has spoken, and it has voted against electrics. If it wanted them in their present form, it would be clamoring for them and the automakers would be providing them to fulfill the demand.

    The market place voted electrics out by the early ’20s. I’m not sure there’s been much of a vote since then, unless you consider the Prius to be an electric car, which it is in large part – and in that case you’d have to say the market is voting for it. When Toyota offers a plug in recharge option, many owners will be able to use it as a PEV w/o using the engine – much of the time.

    You may personally not believe that range matters, or that recharge time matters. I’m sure that there are a few people who agree with you.

    Probably more than a few. If the average daily driving adds up to around 30 miles, that means most people could get by with the range of the original EV-1 most of the time. As someone else pointed out, an upgraded version had a range of 200 miles, which shouldn’t deter anyone from going out to lunch. Most people have their car sitting in the garage all night, so I still don’t see the problem with overnight “refueling”.

    However, there are not enough such people who agree with you to make it happen. If they can’t sell at least 50,000-100,000 of them every year at middle-class prices, it isn’t worth the money and effort to build it.

    Your point is well taken – if the market is too small, it won’t be served – at least not at a price most people can accept. It might be people would prefer a hybrid, just so they could always use the car whenever they liked. We might very well have PEHVs instead of PEVs. But even if we just look at PEVs, I’d think 100K units per year would be quite easy. There must be literally millions of us who know full well that 75 mile range would be more than enough for our daily needs and that our car will be in the garage all night, regardless of how it’s powered.

    If the domestic automakers teach us anything, it’s that ignoring the customer leads to losses and brand destruction. If consumers don’t want it, they don’t want it, and there’s no point in hoping that they change.

    But please note that Toyota and to a lesser extent Honda, figured there was a market for electrically powered cars – albeit with hybrid drive. GM and Ford figured that when CARB relaxed the rules in CA, they didn’t need to bother anymore. Toyota now sells what – 250K Prius per year?

  • avatar

    @trk2

    There are various versions. Wired described it thus:

    One reason carmakers like to focus on horsepower is that it’s damn hard to develop an algorithm that manages a hybrid power train. No company has been able to come up with a formula that beats Toyota’s. Ford developed its own algorithm only to realize it was very similar to the Toyota approach; in order to avoid a lawsuit, it ended up purchasing a license rather than pursuing a patent. Mercedes was stunned to discover that its vaunted F 500 Mind concept car, a diesel-electric hybrid, actually got worse mileage on the highway than a gas-only version. Nissan just threw up its arms and licensed nearly all of Toyota’s hybrid technology.
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.04/hybrid.html?pg=3&topic=hybrid&topic_set=

    I also had a chance to meet with the chief engineer and his crew on the 400h effort by Toyota a few years ago.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    At $4 per gallon gasoline, I would be interested in how the market would now view the limitations vs advantages of the EV-1 (esp. given current technology).

    The limitations would still be the same. My landlord still doesn’t allow me to run an extension cord out my window.

  • avatar

    @# quasimondo :
    July 4th, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    At $4 per gallon gasoline, I would be interested in how the market would now view the limitations vs advantages of the EV-1 (esp. given current technology).

    The limitations would still be the same. My landlord still doesn’t allow me to run an extension cord out my window.

    Which is a point. Top Gear put it bluntly – “imagine walking down the sidewalk, with power chords running across from all the houses!”
    But you’d be surprised by the speed with which charging stations are popping up. Paris is buying 4000 EVs, to be placed about the city, and to be used in the same way that their “free” bicycles are used. Charging stations galore.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Dynamic88: “Toyota now sells what – 250K Prius per year?”And that’s only because of limited production capacity. Toyota dealers have supposedly been saying all along that they could sell twice that many if they could get the vehicles. That’s quite amazing when one considers the current Prius has been in production essentially unchanged for over five years now.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “The point, though, is that the marketplace has spoken, and it has voted against electrics.”

    What happened was, cheap gas and the Ford Model T voted against the electrics. Electric cars has been roughly in the same place developmentwise for the last 90 years, while gas-engined cars has been developed tremendously. And, why not? An electric car is twice the price with half the benefits. And has only been available in the margins of the marketplace, like golf-carts, milk delivery vans and government fleet sales subsidised by green politics. But that equation is not written in stone.

    If gas prices rises to the level where it is economically beneficial to develop electric cars, then the marketplace will vote for the electrics. And that’s where we are right now.

    The combined development costs for gas engines the last hundred years must have been hundreds and hundred, if not thousands of billions of dollars. Imagine if some of that money had been used to develop other kinds of propulsion further than has been done.

  • avatar

    Think it was an article in the NYTimes recently, describing how customers are now aiming straight for compacts and hybrids.
    One Toyota dealer declared he would stop Prius owners and make them an offer for their cars, demand was so high.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Crushing those vehicles was just mind-numbingly stupid. They could have given ‘em to the current occupants after forcing them to sign a no-support, no-warranty, no-anything waiver and left ‘em in the wild.

    Who know what interesting stuff tinkerers would have come up with.

    “chock full of batteries that threatened the environment.”

    Why do people keep repeating that nonsense? The vast majority of present automotive batteries are properly recycled (the last stats I saw said 98%) and EV batteries are even more likely to be collected and recycled. Conversely, ICE motor oil recycling rates rarely top 50%. Car tire recycling rates hit 60% on a good day. If you don’t think the current fleet has a major negative impact on the environment then I guess we have nothing to discuss.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Crushing those vehicles was just mind-numbingly stupid. They could have given ‘em to the current occupants after forcing them to sign a no-support, no-warranty, no-anything waiver and left ‘em in the wild.

    So when those EV1′s eventually did break, they can go running to the press with their sob stories about being stranded in the middle of the night and got no support from GM, waiver be damned?

  • avatar
    Kevin

    Something that has to be put to bed all night after only 75 miles is of very limited use to me. I might be willing to pay 3 or 4 thousand dollars for it, I suppose. Could GM price the EV1 at $4,000? I’m guessing not…

    BTW, where I lived in 1998, gasoline was about 70 cents a gallon. My car could have easily traveled 900 miles, two tanks or so, for less than $20 at that time!

  • avatar

    @Kevin :
    July 5th, 2008 at 4:02 am

    Something that has to be put to bed all night after only 75 miles is of very limited use to me. I might be willing to pay 3 or 4 thousand dollars for it, I suppose. Could GM price the EV1 at $4,000? I’m guessing not…

    Where I grew up we get very cold winters, and plugging car or engine heaters to a power outlet is second nature – and makes for both a comfortable and clean start in the morning. It’s quite amazing, a cold engine creates a black exhaust mark against white snow; a warm engine barely makes a mark at all.

    Well, we plug our cars in for other reasons, but it takes about ten seconds of my time. If your daily drive is longer than an EV’s safety range, then it’s not for you. But as even the inefficient EVs on the market today have ranges double or quintuple the U.S. average daily drive, there’s clearly a lot of people who could use them.

    It’s not really going to be an option. Politicians aren’t talking about much other than the electrification of driving …

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Huh? It’s a private property. Do you lock your home and your backyard when you go to work? How dare you? You have something against strangers?….

    Huh? Read what I wrote. I have nothing against “strangers” at all. I do despise gated communities because they are not communities at all. No code, no enter. Who the hell wants to live in a prison, even a gilded one. These places are anti-communities. And yes they are private property and come packed with rules. I certainly am not going to live someplace that hands out citations because you car hood is up. My god, Lovey, a car being worked on!! Next to MY McMansion!! The nerve!! I knew they were nouveau riche trash when I saw that domestic thing in the driveway.. (deep sarcasm here)

    The plug-in argument is not really an issue from a convenience point of view. I, too recall plugging in my block heater when I went to college in “snow country”. Made a huge difference in those carb days. After the first drive off with it plugged in, I never drove off with it plugged in again…

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    Regardless of your feelings on alt propulsion vehicles, a manufacturer the size of GM should always be spending at least some R&D money on alternatives. They were burned in ’73 and they are burned again in ’08. What the hell, the workers will lose their jobs, the taxpayers will bail them out, and the backward thinking execs will get their golden parachutes as usual. Lets blame the Japanese and big oil too while we’re at it…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The market place voted electrics out by the early ’20s. I’m not sure there’s been much of a vote since then

    We haven’t had eighty years of pent up, unfulfilled demand, but eighty years of virtually no demand.

    Automakers aren’t part of a vast conspiracy, and most of them aren’t stupid. (As we are seeing, some of them are stupid, but certainly not all of them.) If there was money to be made in selling electrics, they would be doing it today.

    If anything, if the idea was so great, one of them would have gone out of their way to build one in order to be first to market and gain first-mover advantage. In this case, there is no first-mover advantage, so no one makes the first move.

    If the Prius proves anything, it’s that pure electrics don’t yet work. Toyota would have simply built electric cars and not bothered with the Prius if EV’s were viable.

    Range and recharge time are problems because consumers don’t like it. Anything consumers don’t like is going to hurt sales.

    The customer is always right, and needs to be heeded. Telling them a short-range, slow-refill vehicle is acceptable when they have already rejected it is a sure ticket to business failure.

    My guess is that consumers don’t like it because it creates uncertainty with the purchase. You don’t know day to day whether your car will have the ability to get you where you need to go, given these limitations. Consumers do not want a car that is going to clip their wings like that.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    How can we criticize GM for not continuing to develop the EV1, while we laugh at Tesla for trying to bring their electric car to the market?

    I have to look at the follies that is Tesla motors and wonder why it would be any different for GM? Certainly Tesla had the backing of customers, investors, and anyone else dying to be driven by something other than the internal combustion engine, and yet Tesla stumbles and bumbles.

    So, for all of those who criticize GM for pulling the plug on this project, convince me how GM could’ve done a better job than what Tesla’s doing now in the world of electric cars.

  • avatar

    quasimondo :

    So, for all of those who criticize GM for pulling the plug on this project, convince me how GM could’ve done a better job than what Tesla’s doing now in the world of electric cars.

    That is a genuinely scary proposition, to which I have no answer.

  • avatar

    who was laughing at Tesla? I must have missed it.

    The crazy part here is hearing from all the non-EV drivers talk about how it is. How if an EV won’t work for them, then it won’t work for anybody. We hear about the inconveniences of driving an EV, and don’t hear a thing about paying $5 for gas, or taking the car in for oil changes or tuneups. We ignore the huge inconvenience of driving out of our way to fill up with gas while we stand there in the wind/rain/sun/snow on the greasy pavement while the car fills up so conveniently fast. We ignore our economy going to hell while we send BILLIONS of dollars outside of our economy to keep our oil supply coming.

    Ah well. This is America where oil is our birthright. :Help:

  • avatar
    lzaffuto

    “But since I live in America, and since I believe that unlimited oil is my birthright, my commute is ANY length I want it to be.”

    I shouldn’t feed the trolls, but here goes. Considering that even though we probably have a lot of the stuff, “unlimited” oil is not a possibility… what happens to your great America when we run out of it and there is no alternative transportation because everybody thinks like you, true patriot? Does your vision of a great America include world war, famine, anarchy, and chaos? Billions of starving, poor, and eventually dead Americans? Because that’s what it will be. America as you see it today was built on a foundation of cheap gas and transportation for everyone. When that is gone and there is no alternative this will not be America anymore. So if you’re a true patriot, I suggest you start rooting for the underdogs.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    We haven’t had eighty years of pent up, unfulfilled demand, but eighty years of virtually no demand.

    That’s true, up until 2001. Since then people have shown that they want a Prius, which is an electric vehicle, albeit with hybrid drive. The appeal is that it’s an electric car most of the time, not that it’s an electric car once in a blue moon.

    If you want to say hybrids will probably always sell better than pure electrics, I couldn’t agree more. But the statement you made pages ago was something to the effect that PEVs are doomed to fail. I don’t think they are. They would suit the needs of literally millions of drivers. Maybe not you, or a lot of people, but literally millions who have different needs to yours.

    >b> Automakers aren’t part of a vast conspiracy, and most of them aren’t stupid. (As we are seeing, some of them are stupid, but certainly not all of them.) If there was money to be made in selling electrics, they would be doing it today.

    I never suggested any sort of conspiracy. Only short sightedness. Toyota will probably beat GM to market with a PEV because most of the technology already exists and has been refined in the Prius. Some of us aren’t going to drive enough in one day to have to worry about ICE backup. We know that. Would the Prius be cheaper without the ICE? Smaller? Lighter? Might these be advantages for some consumers? Are you sure there’s no market? There wasn’t millions of years of pent up demand for the automobile either, and in fact most considered it a toy that would never catch on. Times change, needs change, priorities change.

    If anything, if the idea was so great, one of them would have gone out of their way to build one in order to be first to market and gain first-mover advantage. In this case, there is no first-mover advantage, so no one makes the first move.

    Again, if we look at the Prius as primarily an electric car with the ICE serving only as a backup and recharging system, then Toyota definitely has a first mover advantage. No other manufacturer has as much experience with electric propulsion. This is an advantage, even if the Prius is never offered in PEV form.

    If the Prius proves anything, it’s that pure electrics don’t yet work. Toyota would have simply built electric cars and not bothered with the Prius if EV’s were viable.

    Again, the viability argument seems week to me, given that the average daily mileage is around 30, and most PEVs have at least double that range already. There is a bigger market for hybrids, but does that mean the PEV market isn’t viable?

    As I mentioned previously, if Toyota puts an on-board charger in a Prius, that can be plugged into the wall, it allows the car to be used in PEV mode and this mode will serve many customers most of the time.

    Range and recharge time are problems because consumers don’t like it. Anything consumers don’t like is going to hurt sales.

    Looking at the posts on this thread, it seems obvious that your statement is too general. Some consumers don’t like it, some are fine with it. Not everyone is miffed by the idea that we can’t drive to Kansas and back on the spur of the moment.

    The customer is always right, and needs to be heeded. Telling them a short-range, slow-refill vehicle is acceptable when they have already rejected it is a sure ticket to business failure.

    But they haven’t rejected it. We know the statistics, so we know that many Pirus owners aren’t driving far enough each day to run down the battery pack. We know then that a Prius with a cord on it could be used in PEV mode much of the time. How many owners would want a PEV? I don’t know, but your conclusion that hardly any would doesn’t seem to me to be based on anything.

    Another factor in demand is who can we buy from? I’m not buying a car (with any propulsion system) from some little start-up company being run out of someone’s garage. Toyota I trust. Honda I trust. Even Ford I trust. Tesla I don’t trust. GreenHippieCommune Electric vehicle company I don’t trust.

    Also look at the comments of the people who leased the EV-1. The majority seemed to have liked the car. That suggests to me that others would like it as well. It’s possible then that there is a market for it.

    My guess is that consumers don’t like it because it creates uncertainty with the purchase. You don’t know day to day whether your car will have the ability to get you where you need to go, given these limitations. Consumers do not want a car that is going to clip their wings like that.

    Again, this is true for some consumers, probably a majority, but not all consumers. For many the range of the EV-1 would leave us with no uncertainty. That range is quite adequate for literally millions of drivers.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Again, the viability argument seems week to me, given that the average daily mileage is around 30, and most PEVs have at least double that range already.

    That apparently isn’t good enough, because people aren’t buying them.

    To believe that electric vehicles have a future in their present form, you have to accept at least one of these notions:

    -There is a vast conspiracy
    -People who run auto companies are morons

    Now, we can probably agree that Rick Wagoner could be a bit, well, you know…

    But the guys who run Toyota are pretty bright, as are those at Honda and BMW. All of them are perfectly capable of making mass market electric vehicles if they want to. But they don’t. Obviously, they don’t see a market for them, given the range, recharge and cost issues.

    If they are wrong, then they’ve blown it big time and someone else who does it first will make gazillions of dollars profiting from their mistake.

    The fact that this fantastically successful electric car company does not exist after eight decades of opportunity strongly suggests that the idea is not ready for prime time. Tesla is trying, and the only way for them to get there is to have a price point of about $100,000 per car.

    My guess is that Tesla will fail, because even a price tag of $100,000 won’t be enough to hurdle the costs. Obviously, if we can’t fix the recharge and refueling problems with a six-figure vehicle, it ain’t gonna happen for an MSRP of about $25,000, which is where it needs to be to serve the masses.

  • avatar

    We should rewind a touch. Rare is the one-car American family — the issue would be whether, for a variety of reasons, families would want to swap one of their 3+ vehicles for an EV or hybrid.

    Said family could diversify mightily, and have a huge hauler/truck/pickuppy thing for those two times a year when the boat needs to be taken to the lake and back.

    It could have a mid-range multi-seater.

    And the (P)HEV for the shorter range trips.

    If the experience others have made holds true, said family will rid itself of the humongous vehicle, and end up with two (P)HEVs.

  • avatar

    To believe that electric vehicles have a future in their present form, you have to accept at least one of these notions:

    -There is a vast conspiracy
    -People who run auto companies are morons

    You’ve left out the actual notion that is not a conspiracy, nor reliant on anybody being a moron:
    That car companies are concerned with little more than shareholder value, or profit. And that’s just good business. Gas cars make money right now. EVs do not. Car companies have most of their capital tied up in building gasoline engines. Car companies don’t make EV motors, nor do they make EV batteries. It is simply good buisiness (in the short term) for car makers to continue making gas cars.

    The future of EVs is bright because finally the shareholders and customers alike are demanding that the car makers give them something else beyond Titanic life boats.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    That car companies are concerned with little more than shareholder value, or profit.

    That was my point. Car companies, like every other business, are supposed to make money. If they don’t make money long enough, they eventually stop operating, make no products and employ no people.

    It is not possible to make money with electric cars. Why? Because we don’t want them!

    There is inadequate demand to sustain a market of vehicles with minimal range and long refueling times. If we wanted them, they would make them and happily take the profits.

    There has been hype about electric cars for decades. The hype has never materialized into a workable, mass market product. You do know the term used to describe those who keep repeating the same mistake expecting a different outcome.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Again, the viability argument seems week to me, given that the average daily mileage is around 30, and most PEVs have at least double that range already.

    That apparently isn’t good enough, because people aren’t buying them.

    If this logic were followed in 1901, the car would have been dismissed because people were still buying more horses than cars.

    The fact that wagon making didn’t cease the day after the Duryea brothers tested their first car didn’t mean that there was no future for the horseless carriage.

    The fact is that people are buying small numbers of PEVs and others are converting cars to PEV. No major manufacturer yet makes a PEV, but that doesn’t mean they won’t. We don’t know what the demand would be if they were widely available by major (reputable) manufacturers.

    Toyota is a battery charger and an extension cord away from having a PEV right now. In fact there are after market conversions to make it possible to recharge the Prius by plugging into the wall.

    There are somewhere around 16 electric car start-ups right now. GM is also trying to come out with a PEV. Most of the small companies will fail because making cars requires huge amounts of capital (not to mention experience) and costs can only become reasonable if sales are sufficient. That doesn’t mean the big companies can’t do it.

    To believe that electric vehicles have a future in their present form, you have to accept at least one of these notions:

    -There is a vast conspiracy
    -People who run auto companies are morons

    Faulty logic. I don’t have to accept either premise to believe there is a substantial market for PEVs.

    I listen to the people who had an EV-1, (they like them) I note that demand for the EV-1 greatly exceeded supply. I look at the statistics that tell me electrics in current form have more than double the range that the average person would need on a daily basis, I see people converting their Prius for plug in recharging, and I conclude that there may be a market for PEVs.

    But the guys who run Toyota are pretty bright, as are those at Honda and BMW. All of them are perfectly capable of making mass market electric vehicles if they want to. But they don’t. Obviously, they don’t see a market for them, given the range, recharge and cost issues.

    How do we know they aren’t planning to do so? It wouldn’t be hard to convert a Prius to a PEV. For marketing reasons they might prefer to have a different model name, but the technology isn’t a big challenge. We know GM is trying to make a PEV. It’s a shame they’ve squandered their resources and don’t have much for R&D, and it’s a shame that they took 10 years off from electric car development (and the EV-1 could easily have been a springboard to a gas/electric hybrid) but they are still a major company planning to build an electric car (again).

    If they are wrong, then they’ve blown it big time and someone else who does it first will make gazillions of dollars profiting from their mistake.

    Well Toyota won’t have blown it. They already have substantial real world market based knowledge with electric drive. It wouldn’t be hard for them to come out with a PEV. Honda will also be in pretty good shape. Even the General won’t have blown it – since they are trying to bring out the Volt.

    The fact that this fantastically successful electric car company does not exist after eight decades of opportunity strongly suggests that the idea is not ready for prime time. Tesla is trying, and the only way for them to get there is to have a price point of about $100,000 per car.

    But it isn’t 8 decades of opportunity. There was no demand 30 years ago because environmental concerns were fewer and gas was dirt cheap. Conditions change.

    Tesla has a price point of 100k per unit because they are only going to be able to build a dozen or two dozen per year. Toyota and Honda would not have the same price point.

    My guess is that Tesla will fail, because even a price tag of $100,000 won’t be enough to hurdle the costs. Obviously, if we can’t fix the recharge and refueling problems with a six-figure vehicle, it ain’t gonna happen for an MSRP of about $25,000, which is where it needs to be to serve the masses.

    You’re still insisting that range and recharge are problems, but they aren’t problems for everyone. I guess there isn’t much point repeating this – as you don’t want to take account of it – but the average daily mileage on a car is 30 miles. That means there are literally millions of people for whom a PEV would be useful. Some will still reject the PEV on the theory that they might suddenly decide they need to drive 500 miles away after work. But there is no reason to insist that no one would accept the “limitations” that are already double the average daily need.

    As for price, the Prius is already there. Yank the ICE and put in a battery charger. Better yet, just put in the batter charger and and a switch that can prevent the ICE from kicking in, and suddenly people have a choice to run the car in PEV mode or Hybrid mode. If Toyota does this (and they will) they’ll be able to get info from customers on how often they use the car in PEV mode. (the on board computer might keep track so they’ll get verifiable info) Then they can start putting some numbers to the demand for PEVs.

    You’ve presented a logical fallacy – namely that if there were ever going to be a market for electrics there would already be a market for electrics. Since they aren’t being sold in large numbers now, they are doomed in the marketplace. This was wrong for autos in the early 20th century, it was wrong for personal computers, and it may be wrong for PEVs.

    If I were running a car company I’d certainly want a PEV project going on, probably in conjunction with a hybrid project. If it turns out there is no substantial market, most of the R&D is well spent in that it’s useful to the hybrid project. If it turns out there is a market, then opportunity isn’t missed.

    I’m not going to keep the argument running. I suspect we (or at least me) are boring everyone with our back and forth. I’ve always had a lot of respect for your opinions on auto related matters. I still do. I just think the market might be bigger than you’re allowing for. The fact that major auto makers are not -yet- making pure electrics (well, except of course for GM) dose not suggest to me that there is no potential market. It wouldn’t be the first time the smartest guys in the room missed a new trend.

    (Hell, I even know of a case where the smartest guys in the room bought Chrysler).

  • avatar

    Pch101

    Just out of curiosity: GM has now been losing money for years, on every single car they make for sale in the U.S. In fact, to get rid of its cars – the absolute majority of which are ICE powered – GM has offered insane incentives, 0% financing and anything-with-a-pulse credit clearance.

    You write: Car companies, like very other business, are supposed to make money.

    How is GM excempted here? For how long? You’re driving the profitability issue pretty hard here, as you undercut EVs, but how come GM gets a pass?

  • avatar

    Gas prices, and what people are/will be driving.

    A pretty hard edged article in the NYTimes today about the changing habits of people. When Hummer ownrs stop driving them to meets and use their bikes you know something’s going on.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/business/06tank.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

    Mark R. Price, founder of the Illiana Hummer Club in the Chicago area, owns three Hummer H1s, which get about eight miles per gallon. “A lot of our members won’t travel 70 miles just to support a parade anymore,” Mr. Price said. “People wait for something a little closer.”

    Families that were accustomed to the convenience of sport utility vehicles are having to cut back as well. Colleen Hammond of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, loves packing her three kids and all their soccer gear into her 2000 GMC Yukon XL. But she hates paying $160 to fill the 38.5-gallon tank. Last month, she parked the Yukon in her driveway and borrowed her friend’s Toyota Land Cruiser.

    “I don’t know if it gets better gas mileage, but I like her car because it costs $100 to fill it,” said Ms. Hammond, 40. “I think $100 for a tank of gas is cheap now.”

    Steve Burtch bought a Dodge Ram truck last year, when gas cost $3.75, because he thought gas prices had peaked and would start coming down. Instead, he pumped his first $100 tank in June. “I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to keep this up,” said Mr. Burtch, 43, who lives in Marion, Ohio.

  • avatar

    It is not possible to make money with electric cars. Why? Because we don’t want them!
    Well, you say your point was different from what you stated (and I quoted) earlier. And now you say EVs don’t make money because we don’t want them. MY point, that you said is the same as your own now (?), is that car companies are totally invested in gasoline engines. They own the companies that make all the precision parts for ICEs. Switching gears to EVs is not painless nor cheap. To sell an EV on its merits, you have to demonstrate how silly gasoline cars are. And it has very little to do with “what we want.”

    As a data point, I am one of the past EV1 drivers. And I’m a current Rav4EV driver. Have you noticed that the people who tell us that “we don’t want them” are the people who have never driven or lived with one? I’ll bet there were plenty of horse-drawn wagon drivers that were thinking “we don’t want them” when the automobile was introduced. And after a very rocky, ugly start, the automobile finally caught on. One of the main reasons people finally abandonded the horse was due to the steaming pollution they piled in the streets of the towns.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    And now you say EVs don’t make money because we don’t want them.

    I have stated this lack of demand consistently throughout this thread. The market is always ultimately a demand driven animal.

    There is no substantial demand for cars with limited range and long recharge times. If there was, they would exist.

    The EV1 was a low-volume car built to get CARB off the backs of the automakers. As soon as CARB relented, the program got canned. Honda sells as many Accords in a single day as GM was able to lease EV1′s.

    How is GM excempted here?

    They aren’t. As it turns out, GM is not alone in rejecting this approach. The smart automakers also avoid these cars.

    Unless you think that Toyota, Honda, BMW or the other successful car makers are run by idiots, ask yourself why they haven’t jumped into this electric car concept with both feet if it’s such a fantastic idea, or why some entrepreneur hasn’t figured out how to grab this market and make a killing from it.

    Free market economics would suggest that 110+ years is more than enough time to encourage somebody to take a lucrative, workable idea and to profit from it.

    If this logic were followed in 1901, the car would have been dismissed because people were still buying more horses than cars.

    Sorry, but that’s an awful analogy. The industry has had over a century to sort this out. Electric cars are a mature technology. The business is filled with well capitalized companies that compete with each another enough to look for advantages when available.

    Electric cars do not compare favorably to the alternatives. The realists in the business know all about the flaws; that’s why they’ve passed on these cars as being anything more than just dabbling experiments.

    The problem with the current model is that the batteries remain a weak point. Until the battery technology is improved, it’s a non-starter. Better yet, they need to find a way to get away from batteries in order to store power. Batteries are highly inefficient and there doesn’t seem to be much that anyone can do to improve their efficiency.

  • avatar

    The EV1 was a low-volume car built to get CARB off the backs of the automakers
    You are incorrect. the EV1 was introduced before the ZEV mandate was born. In fact it was the proven viability of the EV1 that prompted CARB to act.

    There is no substantial demand for cars with limited range and long recharge times. If there was, they would exist.
    And as long as you continue to ignore the other compelling reasons that production EVs aren’t available today (I refuse to say that they don’t exist, as I’ve been driving one for seven years as our main vehicle), these reasons are as good as any. Did you read the part about all auto companies being so heavily invested in ICEs that there is no cheap/easy way to divest? It appears that you are missing that one each time.

    Batteries are highly inefficient and there doesn’t seem to be much that anyone can do to improve their efficiency.
    Also incorrect. Batteries are an amazingly efficient storage device. And of course EVs as a sytem are the most efficient viable private transportation solution we’ve ever demonstrated. while gas cars might put 15% of the stored power to the pavement, EVs put about 90% to the pavement.

    I must have misunderstood what you meant by “Batteries are highly inefficient.” My guess is that you meant that they are less energy dense which is a different situation.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Did you read the part about all auto companies being so heavily invested in ICEs that there is no cheap/easy way to divest?

    I didn’t. Sorry, but it’s not an accurate observation.

    Once again — Toyota et. al. aren’t doing this for a reason. If the idea was so fantastic that it could elevate them ahead of their competition, they would do it in a heartbeat. Well managed companies like these seek out competitive advantage whereever possible.

    As it turns out, it’s not such a great idea. 110 years, no dice. This is a highly competitive economy, great ideas eventually rise to the top, bad ones sink to the bottom. The well-established sinking of the electric vehicle is a hint; take heed.

    If electric vehicles were new, barely tried technology, you’d have a point. But they are not new at all, so there are few mysteries here.

    I realize that some are in love with their technological magic bullets, even if they never hit their targets, but markets are ultimately customer driven. Customers vote with their money. Obviously, the EV election has low turnout and not much interest. Your enthusiasm won’t make up for the absence of a market.

  • avatar

    I didn’t. Sorry, but it’s not an accurate observation.
    Your sorrow sounds somehow gleeful. I still can’t figure out what you are afraid of. If EVs are never going to happen, then just sit back and watch. Save your energy for something that needs stomping out.

    For the record, it is not just an observation, but a fact. The accuracy this (and any) fact isn’t even debatable. Auto makers are fully invested in ICEs.

    Toyota et. al. aren’t doing this for a reason.
    Of course they are doing it for a reason. I have given you one of the biggest reasons, and you choose to both ignore it, and explain around it. I realize that my enthusiasm is of no significance in the big picture. Your mistake is assuming that the general public “customers” know what they’re voting on. Or to say it differently, you assume that people who have always bought gasoline vehicles know what an EV is and what its advantages are. Heck, most people still think that plugging in is an inconvenience when one of the most favorable features of EV driving (according to polls of owners) is the convenience of plugging in! Those of us who ARE EV customers vote directly in oppostion to what you say we vote. Those of us who have driven EVs for many years are begging for more of these cars and are demonstrating that we use them every day for our driving needs. Those who have not driven EVsoften say the cars will never be viable. Do we listen to experience or ignorance? The EV customer votes aren’t counted because we’re so few and insignificant, apparently. We had no choice. Our numbers were determined by the few cars that were ever available.

    How does one determine a market for anything that hasn’t been marketed in 100 years? No conclusion can be drawn from automakers hand-building a few hundred vehicles and saying that’s all they could sell. Especially when they didn’t even sell them in most instances!

    I have no illusions that I’ll change your mind on any of this. I just want others to see some of the reality of the situation to draw their own conclusions.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Your sorrow sounds somehow gleeful.

    I know that you want to believe that, because this is your baby and you really believe in it.

    I am woefully agnostic on the subject. I am fond of whatever works. If the marketplace vigorously rejects an idea, as they have with this one, then I pay attention to the market and just deal with it. Electric cars are the proverbial square peg in the round hole, they don’t work for enough people to be compelling.

    I have given you one of the biggest reasons, and you choose to both ignore it, and explain around it.

    I’m sorry, but your rationalization is a poor one, one that ignores the realities of the marketplace.

    If a well-run company can gain an advantage through innovation, it will innovate. If it was such a fantastic idea, there would have been someone during the last 110 years who would have pulled it off.

    Instead, every byproduct of the effort has been inadequate. Might be great for you personally, but not enough people liked the result as much as you did in order to make it commercially viable.

    The facts are what they are. You’re in love with an unpopular idea, and refuse to understand that you belong to a tiny minority of the market who aren’t sufficient in order to make it profitable.

    It’s a mistake to confuse your tastes with those of the market. Stand back, take an objective view, and it’s pretty obvious what’s missing.

    If someone can fix what’s missing, then we can revisit this concept. Until then, it will be nothing more than a toy and a curiosity.

    If you really care about it that much, you will try to remedy those shortcomings, instead of making excuses for them. The market wants results, not excuses.

  • avatar

    If the marketplace vigorously rejects an idea, as they have with this one, then I pay attention to the market and just deal with it.
    The “marketplace” has never experienced these cars, so how can they reject what they do not know?

    but not enough people liked the result as much as you did in order to make it commercially viable.

    The few people fortunate enough to experience the result liked it as much as I did. Figure out what percentage of EV customers didn’t like the result, and see how that plays out. Do we listen to the people with experience with these cars, or do we listen to the “general market” that has no experience with EVs? Seems more relevant to listen to the people with experience. We know what the auto makers have to gain by not building EVs. What do EV drivers have to gain by promoting them?

    understand that you belong to a tiny minority of the market who aren’t sufficient in order to make it profitable.
    The cars were never marketed in modern times. YOu speak of the marketplace… a place that EVs have never visited. Virtually 100% of the customers of these vehicles found them to be not only ‘sufficient,” but more often than not, a better choice than a gasoline car. That the auto makers fought against them is a whole different story with its own set of facts. The CUSTOMERS of these cars – effectively every one of them – loved the cars. And you are dismissing all of us, since the larger market – completely ignorant of EVs – doesn’t know of the benefits of EVs. I am not ignoring the market. I’m pointing out who the market is. You seem to want to ignore us.

    OK, that’s about as many different ways as I can say the same thing, so I’ll do my best to give it a rest (no thanks needed – all part of my services). Maybe somebody else would like to chime in.

    Thanks for the civil discussion.

    Best,

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    This discussion is very reminicent of the Linux vs Windows crowds. The Windows crowd says that Linux has all of these shortcomings while the Linux crowd says maybe so but for X years it has met or exceeded our needs with lowercosts or less troubles. They go ’round and ’round each side casting stones or tidbits of experiences into the ‘ring’. For 5 years Linux has been got us at our house…

    I’m going to point out that tech has come a long way since 1997. Imagine where we could be today if the EV-1 had been devloped continuously. I am writing this on a Nokia N810 right now. Linux powered wi-fi handheld computer. SO many ways to use this kind of small and cheap computing power optimize the car’s behavior to get max range using GPS, GoogleMaps, real time traffic news and dash screens. Ways to make it easier for the owner to find charging points or shop more efficiently.

    Toyota prob would have continued their EV program had GM not sold the battery patents to Chevron. Only now is battery tech passing what NiMH could have delivered 10 years ago.

    Most folks don’t know **** about Linux either but once they test drive it, they ask all sorts of questions about why this is not more widespread…

  • avatar

    The “trouble” with EVs is that their engines are very simple, rarely break down and that the platform overall contains fewer parts to be replaced.
    Automakers live off the spare parts they are selling, and for that reason aren’t so keen on simplifying.

    BUT – you’d be surprised at the range of vehicles and robots that Toyota is developing under its Sustainable Mobility umbrella — and several are pure EVs. Check it out.

  • avatar

    There are lots of really cool EVs being developed now, and some of the developers are even collaborating with power companies.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI2iCE51R9U

    VW’s latest fuel sipper has maxed out safety ratings, in spite of its small size. Combine that safety thinking with the willingness to go smaller and leaner — and there’s the future of automotion.
    And that’s the next generation leap that Ford or GM should be making. They literally have to walk away from the hole they’re digging in the ground. It’s not getting them anywhere.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    bottom line..
    the trouble with EV`s is running out of juice.
    no one, and I mean no one, wants a car that they have to get home to refuel!!!
    What about a trip…
    Honey:I just spent $20,000 on our new car and its really green but we will have to rent a car to make the drive to grandmas…commmon,give me a break!
    lets think about what Americans can afford and what their cars are used for.A daily driver! Not an environmental statement of the times..Who can afford that????
    For most folks,if they are making a car payment,it`s not for a car that costs a large percentage of their income and can only be used as a commuter!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The “trouble” with EVs is that their engines are very simple, rarely break down and that the platform overall contains fewer parts to be replaced.

    The trouble (no quote marks around it) with EV’s is that they are dependent upon batteries, which take hours to “refuel” and don’t store enough power to give a vehicle the range that we are accustomed.

    This dependence upon such a poor fuel source severely compromises the vehicle’s usefulness — for many consumers, this is a deal killer.

    The primary means that the free market provides for dealing with compromise goods is to sell them cheaply. But as we have all figured out, electric vehicles are more costly to produce than standard vehicles, so that isn’t a viable option, either.

    If nice electric cars had all of their current problems but were really cheap, i.e. $5,000 per car, people could use them as a second or third car and keep them parked on days that they weren’t of use to them. But nobody wants to lay down 30 large for a daily driver that isn’t one.

    Tesla has the right idea, in that nobody who can afford one is going to rely upon it for meeting their daily transportation needs, and the price is high enough that it might just turn a profit if they can stay on budget.

    But if Tesla wins, it will have done so by carefully segmenting their customers to avoid those who would suffer most by owning one. Which is to say, that they are avoiding the pitfalls of the demands of the market by avoiding most of the market.

    They’re skirting around the technology problem by avoiding more than 99% of the automotive universe. Even at these prices, they can’t fix what ails the electric car, either. This should tell you something, and what it is saying isn’t very good.

  • avatar
    John

    When Hummer ownrs stop driving them to meets and use their bikes you know something’s going on.

    If those bikes had bumpers, then the sticker would read: “My other bike is a Hummer”

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I’m going to point out that tech has come a long way since 1997. Imagine where we could be today if the EV-1 had been devloped continuously. I am writing this on a Nokia N810 right now. Linux powered wi-fi handheld computer. SO many ways to use this kind of small and cheap computing power optimize the car’s behavior to get max range using GPS, GoogleMaps, real time traffic news and dash screens. Ways to make it easier for the owner to find charging points or shop more efficiently.

    To say the death (if it was ever really alive) of the EV1 halted any potential development is simply misleading. It’s not as if electric cars is the only technology that could benefit from a battery that has a long duration and short recharge time. This would revolutionize many other fields beyond EV’s and that would be a motivating factor for anybody who markets portable devices to develop a battery with similar characteristics.

    The technology for this battery simply does not exist. Blaming GM because this technology does not exist is beyond ludicrous. Plenty of other companies are chock full of engineering know-how, they should be held equally accountable.

  • avatar

    I agree. GM has shown great wisdom in abandoning the EV-1 and focusing on large pick-ups and trucks, as well as a range of cross-platformed SUVs.

    That made me feel better right away! I’m also looking forwards to the oil price going back down to 30/barrel where it rightfully belongs! There’s nothing like taking a really oversized car around a corner with the small V-8 going full blast!

    :-)

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Glad you could finally see things my way, Mr. Leikanger.

  • avatar

    He-he! I must admit, that’s not where I’m putting my money. Couldn’t resist snarking — regular, large ICE vehicles are history.

    http://www.salon.com/comics/opus/2008/07/06/opus/

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    It is far easier to make a misleading movie than to make the advanced batteries for an EV.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    can we get some pictures of that dashboard display with speed/odo/ battery? that would be cool.

    weird interior. These cars fascinate me.

  • avatar

    can we get some pictures of that dashboard display with speed/odo/ battery? that would be cool.

    Here you go. I took this the day before my car was returned… and crushed for its own good.
    What you asked for:
    http://evnut.com/images/ev1/ev1_gallery/gages.jpg
    The center shift assembly:
    http://evnut.com/images/ev1/ev1_gallery/console_views.jpg

  • avatar

    @evnut

    I’ve seen the photos of EV-1s piled up, ready to be crushed. Never saw the documentary, though. My sympathies to you.

    Pretty certain the GM lawyers had a roomful of reasons why it was necessary — and then their engineers didn’t really want to work with ‘lectric – not macho enough. In spite of the fact that hybrid gas/electric was banned from F1.

    If they’d continued with that program producing the Volt would simply have been its natural extension, and not a “moon landing” in a cardboard set.

  • avatar

    Thanks Stein -

    I don’t usually get so attached to my cars, but turning in that EV1 was sure tough. It wasn’t just th car, but what it symbolized, of course

    Here are all the “crush” pictures that we have:
    http://evnut.com/ev1_crushed.htm

    And here are more pictures of our pristine vehicle just before it was crushed. Aluminum body, magnesium seat frames, custom wheels 17 pounds with tires mounted!) all reduced to scrap. Could we REALLY not find anything better to do with these cars besides throw them away… errr… recycle them?

    http://evnut.com/ev1_gallery.htm

    The few that were given to universities and museums were required to never run in public again – the guts were ripped out of them.

  • avatar
    nmpbk

    Great read. This car has such a strange story – all over the web its like an artist that gained no fame till they died!

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I got through the first six and a half pages, and I thought of something that hadn’t been mentioned.

    Lots of comments about convenience and “speed of fill up” with regards to EV’s.

    Something made me think of when all we had was horses and oxen for transportation and agriculture. The animals and their related equipment needed maintenance such as coat care, re-shoeing or saddle and wagon repairs.

    Waste disposal caused problems with disease, for both animal and owner/operator. And don’t forget, the animals had to eat and drink. Fresh food and fresh clean water was needed daily.

    And oh, the complaints about EV’s with a 70-mile range not being far enough. Even a good horse can’t be cantered all day; all of God’s creatures need rest.

    Old, sick, or infirm animals couldn’t be used to perform work anymore, and may have had to be put down. No used market for those, unless you count the so-called “glue factory.”

    Quite a contrast between that time period and the today of gas stations with Starbucks coffee, electrical power plants, lovely suburban homes with attached garages and extension cords, and batteries that don’t need to be fed, walked, cleaned, or reshoed!

    …Just a thought…

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I still can’t believe how angry people are about this car going away. Sure there may have been opportunities missed by killing this thing. But it was a business decision.

    1) People constantly talk about range and how the “average” commute is some two digit number. Sure, you have a legit point. However, nearly all Americans want/need a car that can do everything they ask of it. That includes haul the whole family (not just 2 people), get groceries, take vacations, drive to grandmas for christmas, drive 12 hours in one day, maybe pull a boat, etc. Nobody is going to buy 5 cars each with a different specialty when 1 can do the trick.

    2) Cost. GM was losing BILLIONS on this thing. What’s so hard to understand about that? Today they’re putting billions into the Volt and getting made fun of for it. Um, ok. So the money wasted on the Volt is stupid while the money put into the EV1 was worth it?

    3) Automakers/CARB/Oil. This one really bugs me. CARB was stupid to demand this zero emission requirement in the first place. There was no grand plan to sink electric cars. They just didn’t work. Not in the land of limited range, long charge time, limited practicality, high cost, and $1.50/gallon gasoline.

    4) The market works. GM made their business choice. So did everyone else to abandonded the EVs. Why is GM constantly targeted on this one? No mention of Toyota bailing out on their awesome RAV4EV? Oh, because they came out with a hybrid later. I see. Business is business. Everyone makes a decision for a reason and then has to live with this.

    I just never get this whole thing with this car. It was a cool experiment/toy, but despite all the whining of 0.000000000001% of the population, it deserves nothing more than a footnote in automotive history. Yet here we are STILL talking about this thing.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Another observation…

    There have been numerous comments about a standardized battery, with an agreed-upon size, electrode dimensions, and so forth. Excellent idea, and it’s the only reason that the Compact Disc was a commercial success, along with USB, Firewire, PCI, PCI-E, and so many other plug-compatible/interchangable technologies.

    When we have differences, it causes confusion, inefficiencies, and often…waste. I still can’t figure out which light bulbs need the small format, the medium format, or which fixtures have a 60-watt limitation.

    And don’t get me started on electrical device “wall-warts!” Those damned things are evil, because they’re never interchangable, and you can’t quickly figure out which wart goes with which laptop, cell phone, camera, or musical keyboard.

    So where’s the IEEE or other engineering standards organizations on the subject of rechargable vehicle batteries?

    Hmmmmm….while they’re at it, maybe we can kidnap some of ‘em to standardize those damned wall-warts, or somehow make my house wiring smart enough to adjust to each device…

  • avatar

    @Jerome10

    2) Cost. GM was losing BILLIONS on this thing. What’s so hard to understand about that? Today they’re putting billions into the Volt and getting made fun of for it. Um, ok. So the money wasted on the Volt is stupid while the money put into the EV1 was worth it?

    Hmmm – in what alternate universe did “GM lose BILLIONS on this thing?”

    Less than 500 were built. They were test vehicles, they were never offered for sale.
    Developing and launching a new car platform, with the necessary retooling, etc., is supposed to cost billions. Does, actually.

    Then – when you develop a market for the vehicle – you begin recouping your investment. GM never got to that point, instead preferring to rig the CA ZEV regulation, in cahoots with the other carmakers.

    The Toyota Prius, at the point where there were less than 500 of them on the roads, was also losing BILLIONS as per your definition of loss.
    Today, it is contributing to Toyota’s bottom line so you wouldn’t believe.

    GM ditching the EV-1 was an incredibly dumb decision – if management had gotten behind the effort, GM would have a range of alternative drivetrain vehicles today, and would probably have cut a big piece out of Toyota’s pie in the category.
    By ditching the EV-1, and going for landlurchers instead, GM shot itself in the foot – and that is costing them BILLIONS AND BILLIONS AND BILLIONS.

    The company would have been a completely different one today, not a wreck floating with the engine off towards the shoals.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The Toyota Prius, at the point where there were less than 500 of them on the roads, was also losing BILLIONS as per your definition of loss.

    There is a critical difference between the Prius and the EV1. The Prius works, the EV1 never did.

    The EV1 never fixed the range and recharge problems that electric cars have had for over a century. It was quicker than the previous electrics and it looked more interesting, but the practical technological problems that were barriers to consumer acceptance were never fixed. If you dress up a pig in a fur coat, it’s still a pig.

    I don’t know about you, but I often buy fuel when I have about another 100 miles of fuel left. At the very least, I start hunting for a fuel pump when I have less than 50 miles’ worth of fuel left in the tank. If the car has under 20-30 miles’ worth, I start getting nervous.

    I’m sure that I’m not alone here. That means that the EV1 at maximum charge had as much range as my car does at the point that I’m hunting for a service station.

    Driving an EV1 would be a bit like having a car with a 3-4 gallon gas tank, a car with a fuel gauge that could never go beyond a quarter tank. Having enough fuel would be a constant concern. Without the time or ability to recharge at one’s destination, the real-world effective maximum range would be perhaps a 20-25 mile radius from one’s home.

    GM certainly would have lost billions had they built 100,000 of these things and then tried to sell them. As a 1,000 car experiment, it was fun and interesting and good fodder for a second-rate documentary, but as a mass market consumer good, it would have failed miserably. The press would have railed about the great 25 Mile Car, and the PR benefit would have backfired.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Honda is introduced the Hydrogen car in California because of Stations that were meant for the EV1 and now Honda is using those stations for their Hydrogen cars.

    If wasn’t for EV1, Honda will not be making Hydrogen cars.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    I don’t care if they won’t work for you. They DO work for me. Let’s get EVs on the road and you can benefit from the lower demand = lower gasoline prices… Meanwhile I’ll drive around my county on $3 charges.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I don’t care if they won’t work for you. They DO work for me.

    That’s exactly the problem. Nobody is going to build a car just for you and a few customers. If there were 100,000 of you, fine, but apparently there aren’t that many of you.

    If the car doesn’t serve the market, the problem is with the car, not with the market. The market for a short range car with long refueling times is small and not cost effective.

  • avatar

    Nobody is going to build a car just for you and a few customers. If there were 100,000 of you, fine, but apparently there aren’t that many of you.
    Remind me why the Viper remained in production. 2,000 units per year.

    Two problems I see here:
    1. Just how do we determine that there are only a few of us who want EVs? We’d have to market them to find out.
    2. Even if there are just a few thousand of us per year – why is it so important to avoid making them, if somebody finds a compelling business case to build a car like the Viper?

    3. (bonus) does anybody give a darn about anything other than business?

  • avatar

    I still can’t believe how angry people are about this car goingaway.
    It is amazing to me how many people are angry that we are still talking about this ground-breaking car that could have put GM in the lead of all “cars of the future.”

    But it was a business decision.
    I keep hearing this. And while I think that EVERYBODY agrees that it was business decision, in this context, it sounds like some people think that it was a wise decision. Like continuing to build SUVs when the writing was on the wall. In the short term, the decision made terrific sense as the SUV profit margin was better than on any other vehicle. In the long term… well we can today see the result. Compare how GM is doing today compared with how Toyota is doing today. And Toyota still makes some of the most offensive gasoline cars on the road. The difference is in Toyota taking other risks (the Prius when nobody else but Honda was taking the hybrid gamble), and the attitude. GM’s brilliant business decisions of the past are coming home to roost. And no, I do not blame GM’s current stock price on their failure with the EV1 – but it is certainly a symptom of their problems.

    Americans want/need a car that can do everything they ask of it. That includes haul the whole family (not just 2 people), get groceries,
    take vacations, drive to grandmas for christmas, drive 12 hours in one day, maybe pull a boat, etc.
    And interestingly enough, there is still a market for sports cars, for motorcycles, for sedans, for RV’s (well not so much today!), for pickups – none of which can “do everything” that is apparently required by Americans. The Corvette matches your “needs” just how? The Viper? There are millions of cars in this country that simply do NOTHING more than commute to work and back. Millions of cars never leave a 50 mile radius of
    home. I don’t expect EVs to replace everything right now – just those places where they are vastly more practical and convenient. The low-hanging fruit.

    Choosing to commute in a vehicle that is capable of towing a boat is similar to a carpenter carring a 12-pound sledge in his tool belt in the off-chance that he’ll need to break up concrete some day. (I expect the ability to own two cars vs two hammers here – no need to waste the time. My point is what it is.)

    Cost. GM was losing BILLIONS on this thing. What’s so hard to
    understand about that?
    The only thing hard to understand about this is how wrong the statement is. GM first claimed to loose $800,000 on the entire EV1 program. Then that number became $1 billion (round number, I guess) and now it is repeated as “$ Billions.” Ignored in all this is the IP and patents they garnered – technology that is being used in their current line of gasoline cars. That money should NOT all be charged to the one program that developed it – but should be spread out among the millions of cars per year that are now taking advantage of it. Not so simple any longer, is it? Either way, $1 billion for an entirely new technology – complete with 800 prototype vehicles – is amazingly cheap.

    Now that Toyota is eating GM’s lunch, what is so EASY to understand about this brilliant business decision? We will have electric cars on the road again. Of that there is no doubt. The only thing left to figure out is who will be at the forefront, and who will forever be playing catchup (and whining that the “foreign” makers have some unfair advantage?)

  • avatar
    geeber

    Stein X Leikanger: I’ve seen the photos of EV-1s piled up, ready to be crushed. Never saw the documentary, though. My sympathies to you.

    Pretty certain the GM lawyers had a roomful of reasons why it was necessary — and then their engineers didn’t really want to work with ‘lectric – not macho enough.

    GM has regularly destroyed show cars and prototypes. It was the company’s standard procedure to crush all of the old Motorama show cars in the 1950s after they were finished on the show circuit. Those that are still around today only exist either because an employee disobeyed the order to destroy the car, or the vehicle was junked in a scrap yard and later restored. It was no different from what happened to the EV-1.

    Sorry, but no conspiracy here.

    Stein X Leikanger: GM ditching the EV-1 was an incredibly dumb decision – if management had gotten behind the effort, GM would have a range of alternative drivetrain vehicles today, and would probably have cut a big piece out of Toyota’s pie in the category.

    If the EV-1 was so great, why didn’t Toyota simply build upon it and bring out its own all-electric vehicle?

    Why did Toyota instead make the Prius a gas-electric hybrid?

    Why doesn’t Toyota have an all-electric vehicle for sale on a widespread basis TODAY?

    Maybe GM wasn’t so dumb after all…

  • avatar

    GM took both state and federal money to put these cars on the roads – in the hands of consumers. They were not “show cars” they were considered production vehicles.

    Why did Toyota not improve on the EV1? Well, they went a different route with a fleet vehicle – the Rav4EV that I am (literally) driving today. A fantastic vehicle that surpassed all expectations and that is being sold on the open market – used, and with no warranty – for $70,000.

    Toyota made the Prius instead of more EVs for several reasons. You only have to be the leader. You don’t have to beat yourself.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Remind me why the Viper remained in production.

    The Viper was a halo car. No comparison — its primary purposes were to sell more 300′s and other regular cars, to build the brand, and to keep the engineers engaged and motivated, not to make a lot of money unto itself.

    Also, as a gas engined car, the Viper provided more R&D spillover benefit to the rest of the company’s product line. Performance improves the breed and eventually filters downward through the product line. The research that went into the EV1 didn’t help GM to improve their other cars.

    In any case, the retail price of a Viper was quite a bit higher than an EV1 lease. It had the opportunity to break even or have minimal losses, which is good enough for a low volume halo car. The EV1 never came close to paying for itself. Building more of them would have only increased the losses.

    I could see it having some halo benefit, but that would have required going the Tesla route — sportier surrounds and higher price point. The price point would have been well out of reach for most of the public, and it would have been there for PR and symbolic purposes, not as a revolution in transportation.

  • avatar

    I guess Toyota used the Prius as their halo car for the green cred. GM chose the Viper for… I’m not really sure what.

    I can take an educated guess as to which one of the halos is going to bless the two companies going forward.

    Are there really people here who think that our automotive future is nothing more than advancements in internal combustion engines? That what was learned on the EV1 is not helping GM with their hybrids and planned Volt? That somehow the EV1 program was a complete waste of energy and resources? Wow.

    Even if the EV1 WAS a complete waste – please be aware that building it originally was one of GMs business decisions – before the CARB mandate existed.

  • avatar
    geeber

    evnut: GM took both state and federal money to put these cars on the roads – in the hands of consumers. They were not “show cars” they were considered production vehicles.

    They were not production cars. You could not buy them at any dealer. They were working show cars – they showcased engine technology and design features, just as the old Motorama cars did in the 1950s. The difference is that GM didn’t make just one, and it released them to carefully SELECTED members of the public. Just anyone couldn’t go to the dealer and buy an EV-1 the way he or she could buy a Chevrolet Lumina.

    If you want an even more on-point example, they were similar to another show car that tested an alternative drivetrain – the 1963 Chrysler Turbine car. Chrysler built 55 of them, gave them to carefully screened and selected consumers to use and evaluate, then collected them and scrapped all of them except for nine. Chrysler kept three of them, and donated the remainder to museums around the country. Those six museum cars had the engines deactivated.

    This has been standard operating procedure with the domestic industry for quite some time – over half a century, in fact – so, once again, no conspiracy here…

    evnut: Why did Toyota not improve on the EV1? Well, they went a different route with a fleet vehicle – the Rav4EV that I am (literally) driving today. A fantastic vehicle that surpassed all expectations and that is being sold on the open market – used, and with no warranty – for $70,000.

    When Toyota can sell even 50,000 Rav4EVs at $70,000 a copy, let me know. Until then, it is a glorified speciality car that is not feasible to produce in large numbers because of cost and range considerations, just as Pch101 said.

    evnut: Toyota made the Prius instead of more EVs for several reasons.

    Yes, because it wanted a feasible vehicle that could be sold in respectable numbers, for starters. A Prius fits that description. An all-electric vehicle with the present state of technology available to Toyota and everyone else does not.

    evnut: You only have to be the leader. You don’t have to beat yourself.

    A feasible, all-electric vehicle that sells for $23,000 or so, can carry at least four passengers, and has a range and recharging times similar to those of a gasoline-powered vehicle has been the Holy Grail for decades.

    Toyota was making a statement with the Prius, as it initially lost money on the car. An all-electric car would have been the ULTIMATE statement. The fact that Toyota went the gas-electric route with the Prius, as opposed to the all-electric route, speaks volumes.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I guess Toyota used the Prius as their halo car for the green cred.

    Toyota built the Prius to make money. I’m sure at this point that it is.

    The Prius solved a lot of the EV1′s problems. As you can see, fixing those problems made a big difference.

    If those weren’t issues, then Toyota would have just built all-electric vehicles. The Prius proves that they didn’t see much reason to pursue them. Why even bother with hybrids if electrics were fine as is?

  • avatar

    For the record, nobody at this keyboard is saying there was any conspiracy for GM to kill the EV1. You won’t find any on my web site either. Just good, practical, money-losing and environmental destroying reasons that we can all get our minds around.

    Regardless of how electric propulsion is used today (in hybrids) or in the future (in PHEVs and pure BEVs) is not my point. Or at least not what has become my point in this endless debate of how smart GM was to have killed the EV1.

    GM was the leader in electric propulsion. They owned the whole thing with the introduction of the EV1. There hasn’t been a new technology introduced that did not start off with lots of resistance, and great financial challenges. GM was a step ahead of Toyota and Honda. They decided to throw it all away while others have expanded on that knowledge. GM is now offering a few weak hybrids and wondering where all their buyers are. I mean who doesn’t want second best?

    Let’s pretend that I don’t want EVs on the road. That nobody likes them. That gasoline hybrids are the best we can do. Now, with that stipulated – did GM do the smart business thing with their EV1 knowledge? Did Toyota do the smart thing with their Rav4EV knowledge?

    NO conspiracy needed. Pure brilliant business practice. Let somebody else take the big risk, and then try to catch up and wonder why nobody is patriotic enough to follow your brand blindly.

  • avatar

    For not thinking there is a market for plug-in cars, the big makers are sure trotting them out in increasing numbers.

    http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/autos/0806/gallery.plugins/index.html?cnn=yes

  • avatar
    Pch101

    did GM do the smart business thing with their EV1 knowledge? Did Toyota do the smart thing with their Rav4EV knowledge?

    The difference was in the goals. GM solved for the legal issue of regulators getting on their backs. Toyota solved for a market problem of high fuel prices and the potential for an emerging green movement.

    Toyota gave some thought as to how to gain future customers, GM didn’t. If Toyota had been thinking of appeasing a few vocal electric car fans who love the technology for its own sake, instead of serving the marketplace, then it would have stuck with pure electrics and failed miserably.

    It was Toyota’s market consciousness that allowed them to develop a workable hybrid solution. If they had prioritized technology for its own sake, instead of the consumer, then they would pushed EV’s to no avail and we’d be where we were 20 years ago.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    As someone who worked on the EV1 program (on the Saturn side working on the sales and servicing of the cars) I wrote a blog entry after seeing “Who Killed the Electric Car” with some insider perspective. Check it out if you want at stevelovescars.blogspot.com. Be warned that it’s a long rant that I wrote late at night, so please forgive the typos.

    I think it is fair to say that for 80 years there has been little pent-up demand for EVs but this is due to the fact that gasoline has been so cheap here in the U.S. The prices we paid (and still pay) at the pump don’t really include all of the external costs of using this fuel. Our fuel prices are still among the cheapest in the world… albeit because the Europeans tax gasoline so heavily.

    As with the switch from SUVs to smaller cars, I think a lot of people are reevaluating their needs vs. their wants when it comes to their cars. For muli-car families like mine, we already have a family car capable of carrying us all on a long trip (a Mazda5). I could very well make due with an EV as my other car. A range of 60 miles would be adequate for the type of daily commuting and around-town driving that I do. Granted, not everyone is in my situation but a lot of families could replace one ICE vehicle with an EV… they just don’t think (yet) of using different types of vehicles for different purposes.

    As for the EV1, to correct a few inaccuracies, I believe that GM actually built around 1,100 of them. Still not a huge number, but more than the 500 someone else mentioned here. The consumer price of the EV1 was NOT actually expensive. Thanks to heavy subsidizing by GM and federal, state and sometimes local incentives, the price was only a few hundred dollars per month. As stated by a lot of people on this thread, the operating costs of the car were also tiny relative to a regular car.

    Also, contrary to what some people think, GM wasn’t overly selective about who could lease one and certainly not all of the drivers were hollywood stars. I mention this in my blog, but the long leasing process mentioned in the movie wasn’t because GM was trying to make it difficult or because they were looking for stars to drive the car. The potential leasees needed to have their homes inspected to make sure that the 220V charger could be installed and were provided with an estimate for this before committing to the car. In the case of some older homes, this may have entailed upgrades to the home’s electical service to allow for the new 50-amp circuit. Also, the various incentives needed to be verified in order to give an accurate lease payment. In fact, some cities and counties innacted their own tax incentives (Vacaville, in Northern California, for example, was very active in encouraging EV use). But working all of this out took a few days.

  • avatar
    crash94536

    After reading this entire post I can certainly say that the individuals claiming EVs are not practical/producable/desired by the public/batteries are harmful to the environment are simply not doing enough reading (or they are making up statistics).

    Do you want to know one of the reasons why the Rav4ev was taken out of production?

    read this: http://www.ev1.org/msg/37.htm

    Basically, Chevron (with help from GM) filed a 30 million dollar patent right infringement lawsuit which ended up killing the nickle metal hydride battery intended for the Rav4ev. This lawsuit was filed after Toyota and Panasonic invested heavily in a production facility located in China. Do you still claim conspircies don’t exist?

    And if you still don’t beleive the source I provided, do some related searches on your own.

    I can’t say this is what actually happened, but if I were one of the execs at Toyota I would be rather upset if I lost a lawsuit to an oil company. How would I respond? Produce a car like the Prius.

    If a garage mechanic (like myself) can build an electric car that takes me from home to work and back, why can’t someone mass produce one? Don’t tell me there is no market for such a product when more than 90% of the EV1 customers wanted to buy thier leased car from GM.

    Car companies are horribly scared of the idea of a car that can be produced for a fraction of the cost of an ICE car (because profit is based on a percentage of the total cost of the product, the more your product costs the more profit can be made). Unlike ICE (the most expensive assembly in your car), electric motors can be rebuilt and produced for very cheap. For the majority of the cumsumers out there, when the motor goes bad it is time to replace the car. Who wants to market a car that will last over 500000 miles? Certainly not GM FORD CHRYSLER.

    I also read negative comments about the Tesla Roadster. They are in production and are delivering the car to their customers. I am looking forward to their next product.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Just like the movie said:

    The American Consumer, The State of California or the Government and the oil companies Killed The Electric Car.

    We are all to blame.

    My father is now using a cooking oil to drive his TRUCK thank you so much for that kid who has the guts and glory to do all of it without the help of other people.

    A house and white picket fences are no longer the American dream. The New American Dream is now,

    How to save gas

  • avatar
    geeber

    crash94536: Do you want to know one of the reasons why the Rav4ev was taken out of production?

    read this: http://www.ev1.org/msg/37.htm

    Basically, Chevron (with help from GM) filed a 30 million dollar patent right infringement lawsuit which ended up killing the nickle metal hydride battery intended for the Rav4ev. This lawsuit was filed after Toyota and Panasonic invested heavily in a production facility located in China. Do you still claim conspircies don’t exist?

    No, because what I read consisted of a whole lot of conjecture that wasn’t backed up by much of anything.

    And I love this final quote: The RAV4-EV goes more than 100 miles on a charge, still, 6 years after the last one was sold, on NIMH batteries that are no longer sold, which once were in production, but which Chevron (Standard Oil) now controls.

    Chevron apparently doesn’t control much, because very few people want a $70,000 vehicle with a range of around 100 miles. My wife and I sometimes drive that much in one DAY.

    Let’s see…Toyota has the Prius, and Chevron has the rights to a battery that can only go 100 miles on a charge. I think TOYOTA came out better in that deal.

    crash94536: I can’t say this is what actually happened, but if I were one of the execs at Toyota I would be rather upset if I lost a lawsuit to an oil company. How would I respond? Produce a car like the Prius.

    Except that the Prius was in production BEFORE this lawsuit was filed in 2000. And it was in development long before production started. The Prius was NOT developed in response to this suit.

    crash94536: If a garage mechanic (like myself) can build an electric car that takes me from home to work and back, why can’t someone mass produce one?

    Because, as a garage mechanic, you do not have to worry about:
    *crash tests;
    *styling considerations;
    *mandatory safety equipment;
    *options availability;
    *the fact that some buyers prefer leather seats while others like cloth ones (which increases production costs);
    *that not everyone wants to drive the same color vehicle;
    *people who want to regularly drive more than 100 miles at a time without refueling or recharging;
    *people who will not tolerate refueling times longer than 5-10 minutes;
    *and labor costs.

    Anyone can build ONE car. Some even build a few. Mass producing a car that meets applicable safety and emissions standards, while offering customers the comfort and convenience they have come to expect, and selling it an affordable price, is a completely different challenge.

    Compare apples to apples, please.

    crash94536: Don’t tell me there is no market for such a product when more than 90% of the EV1 customers wanted to buy thier leased car from GM.

    Sorry, but 90 percent of 1,100 vehicles (that weren’t even sold to the general public) isn’t all that impressive. Unless we are talking about Ferrari.

    I could start restoring 1961 Rambler Americans to like-new condition, and probably get about 1,000 people to buy one. I don’t think that means Toyota should start producing 1961 Rambler American clones.

    crash94536: Car companies are horribly scared of the idea of a car that can be produced for a fraction of the cost of an ICE car (because profit is based on a percentage of the total cost of the product, the more your product costs the more profit can be made).

    No, if a particular type of car costs a lot less to build, then the manufacturer can either sell it for less than a conventional car and still make money, or sell it for a little less than a conventional car, and make LOTS of money.

    You also assume that an electric car will cost less to produce than a conventional car. This is not the case.

    crash94536: For the majority of the cumsumers out there, when the motor goes bad it is time to replace the car.

    If you are saying that people don’t trade until the motor goes bad – that is incorrect. If this were the case, there would be no used car market, because with everyone holding on to their vehicles until they were worn out, used vehicles would be basically worthless to other buyers.

    Most people trade their car after 3-4 years, and they do so because it is paid for (or almost paid for), and they want something that looks new.

    crash94536: Who wants to market a car that will last over 500000 miles? Certainly not GM FORD CHRYSLER.

    Apparently not most consumers, as they trade well before 100,000 miles, and it’s not because the car is falling apart. They just want a new car.

    Incindentally, I’ve heard of plenty of Toyotas, Hondas and Panther-bodied cars (Town Car, Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis) that have lasted for 300,000 miles.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Basically, Chevron (with help from GM) filed a 30 million dollar patent right infringement lawsuit which ended up killing the nickle metal hydride battery intended for the Rav4ev.

    Toyota stopped producing the RAV4 EV before the suit was settled. Toyota stopped making them because they were a low production vehicle that was made primarily for the sake of CARB.

    If you add up all of the electric vehicles built during this period, they total up as less than a day’s worth of US cars.

    When the automakers got the compromise PZEV and SULEV requirements that they could live with, the electrics went away. Obviously, Toyota can live with the Prius. Toyota can sell as many Priuses in a few days than they could lease or sell of the electric RAV4′s over a period of seven years. It’s pretty obvious which one makes more sense.

  • avatar
    crash94536

    “No, because what I read consisted of a whole lot of conjecture that wasn’t backed up by much of anything.”

    You should do more reading.

    “Chevron apparently doesn’t control much, because very few people want a $70,000 vehicle with a range of around 100 miles. My wife and I sometimes drive that much in one DAY.”

    See Tesla motors. They had no problem selling the first generation of their roadster which has been sold out for quite a while now. Just because YOU don’t want one does not mean a considerable number of consumers don’t want one. BTW the range of the Tesla is over 200 miles.

    “Because, as a garage mechanic, you do not have to worry about:
    *crash tests;
    *styling considerations;
    *mandatory safety equipment;
    *options availability;
    *the fact that some buyers prefer leather seats while others like cloth ones (which increases production costs);
    *that not everyone wants to drive the same color vehicle;
    *people who want to regularly drive more than 100 miles at a time without refueling or recharging;
    *people who will not tolerate refueling times longer than 5-10 minutes;
    *and labor costs.”

    None of those issues are a challenge to even a small auto company. It is SOP.

    “Sorry, but 90 percent of 1,100 vehicles (that weren’t even sold to the general public) isn’t all that impressive. Unless we are talking about Ferrari.”

    What does your statement have to do with the fact that over 90% of the customers wanted to keep their leased car?

    “No, if a particular type of car costs a lot less to build, then the manufacturer can either sell it for less than a conventional car and still make money, or sell it for a little less than a conventional car, and make LOTS of money.

    You also assume that an electric car will cost less to produce than a conventional car. This is not the case.”

    Simply not true. How many precision parts are there in a fuel injected DOHC V8 verses a brushless electric motor? What about the maintenance? If it’s an old style electric DC motor, turn the commutator replace the brushes and it is good. Manufacturing and maintenance the electric motor has it hands down. Even considering the recycling of the batteries those costs are a small fraction. Please do some more reading.

    “Apparently not most consumers, as they trade well before 100,000 miles, and it’s not because the car is falling apart. They just want a new car.

    Incindentally, I’ve heard of plenty of Toyotas, Hondas and Panther-bodied cars (Town Car, Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis) that have lasted for 300,000 miles.”

    You missed the point on this one. As an amateur mechanic I can make pretty much any car last 500000 miles (yes, I can outclass most professional mechanics). At what cost? When the maintenance exceeds the value of the car that is the point when the majority of car owners will choose to replace their car (or at least the majority of the car owners I personally know). Yes, I will acknowledge range and recharging are an electric car’s weakpoint, but certainly not a deal breaker for many of the consumers out there that are certainly interested in the purchase and use of an electric vehicle. I am not sure where you get your data, but I have a hard time beleiving your statement that “most” people (BTW, most implies over 50%) of the car owners sell before 100000 miles. Do you have any actual data for that one? Everything I have read contradicts that figure.

    It seems like your mind has been made up in regards to your opinion on EVs. When the television came out people doubted that too.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The executive officers of Toyota and Honda must be embarrassed if they are reading this thread. After all, they could be making eighty-seven bazillion dollars selling electric cars, increasing their companies’ values 300-fold, but they aren’t doing it.

    But alas, they apparently are too thickheaded to understand the enormous untapped potential. If only they knew something about cars, engineering and making money, we would finally get the cars that we deserve.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    There is little to no profit in pure electric vehicles. The batteries (still) cost too much. Now, I think Tesla’s plan could, in theory, work. If you make a luxury performance electric car, and sell it for a hundred grand, you might make a profit. Same reason Porsche or Ferrari makes a profit. But you can’t make a profit on a mainstream sedan, because a pure electric version of such will still cost at least twice as much as an equilvalent gas powered car. (Keep in mind that the EV1 was a two-seater, which means it was inherently inferior to every non-sports car sold at the time in this area, all of which could seat at least four.)

    Plug in hybrids are the best compromise of range and reasonable price. They are the future, not pure electrics.

  • avatar

    Pch101 Says:
    Toyota can sell as many Priuses in a few days than they could lease or sell of the electric RAV4’s over a period of seven years. It’s pretty obvious which one makes more sense.
    As this is supposed to be a forum dedicated to the truth about cars, I have to ask you to try a bit harder for the facts.

    The Rav4EV was available to the public for eight months. In those eight months, they sold/leased every one of the vehicles that they had build for a program that was to have lasted two years. Before the retail program, the vehicles were ONLY available for fleet lease.

    If we cannot have a discussion of facts, there is little reason to have a discussion.

  • avatar

    @stevelovescars

    Thanks for the insider’s perspective!
    I think I’m the one who stated 500 EV-1s, but that was the number for generation 2. You’re right, the total was more than 1.000.

    And I agree that the chief reason why EVs haven’t caught on is the incredibly low price of gas. Back in ’97-’98, a barrel went as low as $9! Hard to see the point where you’ll want to consider alternatives — and the Economist magazine even published an editorial predicting oil as low as $5/barrel for decades to come. (No wonder the car majors took a look at the SUV equation, with that kind of advice being proffered on petroleum prices.)

    One also needs to factor in the state-of-the-art in batteries at the time.

    Yet what some posters here obdurately seem to miss, is the fact that the equation has changed, significantly.

    1. Battery technology, charging times and capacity has improved significantly — and now substantial R&D monies are being diverted to the category.

    2. Consumers are doing as you — looking at their fleet of cars and evaluating their needs. A few posters here argue the need for a Swiss Knife car, obviously ignoring (maybe on purpose) the fact that most U.S. families have more than one car. I was quite shocked to learn that the average in private/gated communities was 3.7 a few years ago.

    3. Do we need to mention the price of gasoline? Which is still cheaper than Coca-Cola in the U.S., but definitely trending upwards. The world is not going to run its non-essential transportation on petroleum for much longer, and it’s necessary to understand and accept that. We need the oil for a lot more important things than to be shifting people about inefficiently in ridiculous vehicles.

    We’re all hearing the “well, I don’t want to sit in a small car, with all the big cars on the road. I’m getting a big car for myself.”
    What’s going to happen is that the big cars will be made inordinately expensive to use, and in some instances will be banned altogether. Note that Boris Johnson is not getting rid of the congestion charge in London – he likes it.

    And the argument that “if there was money in it, Toyota/Honda, etc would be making EVs” is stupid – on a lot of levels. They are, and not just the Prius, etc. The Toyota sustainable mobility program contains a range of vehicles and mobility devices (including a walker robot!), many carmakers are working on significant EV vehicles, Mercedes is creating an EV Smart, I could go on-on-on.

    GM screwed up badly and is now forced to look for solutions; a few other carmakers created parallel development tracks, and look a lot better as we’re now facing the future.
    The U.S. “it’s my birthright to drive stupid” mindset is creating a world of hurt, in the U.S.

    That’s worth thinking about.

  • avatar

    @stevelovescars

    And I really enjoyed your informed perspective on the “Who killed the electric car?” DVD on your blog.

    Thanks! I’m putting the link here for those who missed it above:

    http://www.stevelovescars.blogspot.com

  • avatar
    Pch101

    As this is supposed to be a forum dedicated to the truth about cars, I have to ask you to try a bit harder for the facts.

    Fair enough, let’s do that.

    Both the RAV4 EV and the Prius were launched in 1997.

    Between 1997 and 2000 (the year before Chevron failed its patent infringement lawsuit against Panasonic et. al.), Toyota leased about 800 RAV EV’s.

    During this same period, Toyota sold almost 53,000 Priuses, outselling the electric car by about 67 to 1.

    By the end of 2003, the final year for the RAV4 EV, Toyota managed to sell or lease somewhere in the range of 1200 to 1500 RAV4 EV’s. By then, about 153,000 Priuses had been sold worldwide. Based on that, the Prius was beating the EV by more than 100 to 1.

    Looks as if the facts for the EV are pretty grim.

    If Toyota was interested in the EV, it had the opportunity to build EV’s, instead of building Priuses. But it chose not to build them, and to put its priorities elsewhere.

    If Toyota was interested in the EV, it wouldn’t have killed the project the day after CARB’s elimination of the ZEV requirement. But it did kill it.

    If the public was that interested in the EV, it would have clamored for the product. But instead, the public chose to buy other cars, including the Prius.

    I keep asking a question that is being ignored and sidestepped: If EV’s are so great and if demand was so strong, why didn’t Toyota simply build them in volumes equal to or above those of the Prius?

    Before you claim conspiracy, notice how many Priuses were built between 1997 and 2000, before Chevron bought the battery patents and filed the lawsuit in late 2001.

    Before you claim that demand was high, notice how few EV’s were sold, and consider how many other vehicles were sold by Toyota during the same period.

    Toyota filled every sales order for the RAV4 EV that it had. Over the course of a year, this amounted to just a few hundred cars. That is about the same as the number of Corollas that Toyota sells in the United States in only a few hours. Even the costly exotic Lamborghini beats it several times over.

    There is no way that anyone can claim based upon the facts that the EV was popular, profitable or had the potential to succeed, given the tiny numbers involved. The only way to make such claims is to ignore the numbers and pretend that a minuscule pool of customers was the equivalent of a social movement. That wouldn’t be a fact, of course.

  • avatar
    geeber

    crash94536: See Tesla motors. They had no problem selling the first generation of their roadster which has been sold out for quite a while now. Just because YOU don’t want one does not mean a considerable number of consumers don’t want one. BTW the range of the Tesla is over 200 miles.

    Here’s the accurate story on Tesla Motors, from an article posted on this very site:

    The mainstream media jumped all over the story that the Tesla Roadster had “begun full production” on March 17 (of this year), And then… nothing. How long will deposit-paying customers wait for their $98k– sorry, $109k lithium-ion-powered carbon fiber-skinned and modified Lotus Elise? Tesla must be wondering the same thing. The Stamford Advocate reports that the Silicon Valley start-up has taken their Roadster on the road, calming customers’ impatience with 20-minute demo drives. Potential Tesla owner and “media company executive” Gary Patrick was realistic about the car’s core appeal: “”You can still feel like you’re fulfilling your green responsibility and reducing your carbon footprint with a car like this.” We also learn that Tesla’s national sales manager reckons her customers could, in theory, recharge their Roadster using “smaller, 110-volt sockets used for a living room lamp or television set.” Only “charging that way could take as long as 30 hours, compared with eight hours on a larger circuit.” Hang-on; setting aside the fact that no one has confirmed ANY recharge time, what happened to the highly-touted three-hour recharge cycle? Same thing that happened to the Roadster’s 250-mile range. Or the idea of selling the Roadster as a “true” sports car. “For now,” Allen prevaricated, “Tesla plans to sell its luxury products largely on the appeal of its eco-friendliness.” Plans to sell, as opposed to selling, ’cause selling implies delivery, of course.

    That doesn’t sound all that impressive to me…

    If they ever deliver one, we can accurately determine what the range is.

    crash94536: None of those issues are a challenge to even a small auto company. It is SOP.

    Sorry, but no. Those are HUGE challenges, but the companies overcome them through size, cash reserves and a depth of talent. Designing, engineering and building automobiles is a huge undertaking that requires large amounts of cash, experience and capital.

    And even the smallest of the mainstream companies – Honda – is a HUGE enterprise by virtually any standard. The very small, boutique manufacturers sell vehicles in limited quantities for VERY high prices, and most of them are still affiliated with a larger company, as they cannot make it on their own.

    crash94536: What does your statement have to do with the fact that over 90% of the customers wanted to keep their leased car?

    The problem is that you keep extrapolating from the opinions of a very limited sample of customers (who did not represent typical new-car buyers) that there exists this huge untapped demand for electric cars.

    Sorry, but if GM had put the EV-1 on the market, it would have sold in extremely limited numbers at first, and then been completely eclipsed by the Prius.

    crash94536: Simply not true. How many precision parts are there in a fuel injected DOHC V8 verses a brushless electric motor? What about the maintenance? If it’s an old style electric DC motor, turn the commutator replace the brushes and it is good. Manufacturing and maintenance the electric motor has it hands down. Even considering the recycling of the batteries those costs are a small fraction. Please do some more reading.

    Except that none of those wonderful electric motors offers the convenience and flexibility of a current engine. I have the sneaking suspicion that to do this, those batteries will have to be come much more complex and expensive. Same for the engine.

    And the electric car will still have to come equipped with safety equipment (air bags, safety belts, collapsible steering columns), sound system, climate control system and power equipment (windows, seats, mirrors). It must still be crash-tested by the government, which takes time and money.

    crash94536: You missed the point on this one. As an amateur mechanic I can make pretty much any car last 500000 miles (yes, I can outclass most professional mechanics). At what cost? When the maintenance exceeds the value of the car that is the point when the majority of car owners will choose to replace their car (or at least the majority of the car owners I personally know).

    Yes, most of your CUSTOMERS keep their car until it wears out, but that is why they are probably your customers – they want to keep the car running as long as possible. You help them do just that providing honest, reliable service at a reasonable cost.

    Your customers, however, do not represent the typical new-car buyer.

    The people who AREN’T your customers are trading their cars well before 100,000 miles, and they represent the majority of the new-car market.

    crash94536: Yes, I will acknowledge range and recharging are an electric car’s weakpoint, but certainly not a deal breaker for many of the consumers out there that are certainly interested in the purchase and use of an electric vehicle.

    The problem is that there aren’t enough of those customers to make mass production of said vehicles worthwhile at this point. Automobiles need volume production to keep the price down (Henry Ford I proved this and got very rich doing so); otherwise the price is too high for most customers.

    crash94536: I am not sure where you get your data, but I have a hard time beleiving your statement that “most” people (BTW, most implies over 50%) of the car owners sell before 100000 miles. Do you have any actual data for that one? Everything I have read contradicts that figure.

    The figures I saw said that the typical new-car buyer trades his or her vehicle at about 36 months. This figure may have grown with the recent economic downturn, but most people who buy brand-new cars do not keep them for 100,000 miles.

    Otherwise, there would be no used-car market. Most people do not want a used car with over 100,000 miles on the odometer.

    crash94536: It seems like your mind has been made up in regards to your opinion on EVs. When the television came out people doubted that too.

    My opinion is based on a knowledge of what automobile buyers need and want, and the state of electric car technology available TODAY.

    Incidentally, television was hailed as an exciting new technology. The main concern was cost. Television was initially very expensive. But no one doubted that it would work. It just took awhile until people could afford television sets.

    My father told me of visiting Wanamaker’s in downtown Philadelphia in 1946 and seeing an early television set in demonstration. He and his family were in awe of it…the main concern was that early sets initially cost too much for them to afford. They did not buy one until 1953, and it represented a major purchase for them at the time. But they never doubted that it would work as advertised.

    Stein X Leikanger: Battery technology, charging times and capacity has improved significantly — and now substantial R&D monies are being diverted to the category.

    Yes, batteries have gone from 100 miles to 200 miles. Still not enough for most of us.

    Stein X Leikanger: A few posters here argue the need for a Swiss Knife car, obviously ignoring (maybe on purpose) the fact that most U.S. families have more than one car.

    That is because, unlike many activists and analysts, we live in the real world. This comes in handy when determining what people will accept in new vehicles.

    My wife and I have two cars (a 2003 Accord EX four-cylinder sedan and 2005 Focus SE sedan). Guess what – we aren’t going to replace either one with a current electric car, based on the limited range and long recharging time. We BOTH need the flexibility and range offered by our current vehicles.

    The simple fact is that most people demand maximum flexibility in their vehicles – and this includes range between refuelings and short refueling times. Gasoline will have to become MUCH more expensive before people accept the current limitations of all-electric vehicles over current gasoline and hybrid vehicles. And even then, many people can still trade down from, say, an Explorer to a Civic or a Fiesta (coming soon).

    Stein X Leikanger: I was quite shocked to learn that the average in private/gated communities was 3.7 a few years ago.

    You’ll be even more shocked to discover that most people in the United States don’t live in gated communities, so this interesting fact really isn’t all that relevant to the discussion.

    Stein X Leikanger: Do we need to mention the price of gasoline? Which is still cheaper than Coca-Cola in the U.S., but definitely trending upwards. The world is not going to run its non-essential transportation on petroleum for much longer, and it’s necessary to understand and accept that. We need the oil for a lot more important things than to be shifting people about inefficiently in ridiculous vehicles.

    While I agree that days of $1-a-gallon for unleaded are over, the fundamentals point to an asset bubble as the prime reason for the wild escalation in prices, not any underlying shortage.

    Stein X Leikanger: And the argument that “if there was money in it, Toyota/Honda, etc would be making EVs” is stupid – on a lot of levels. They are, and not just the Prius, etc. The Toyota sustainable mobility program contains a range of vehicles and mobility devices (including a walker robot!), many carmakers are working on significant EV vehicles, Mercedes is creating an EV Smart, I could go on-on-on.

    You’re changing the argument. No one is saying that companies shouldn’t be exploring all possible technologies, including electric vehicles. So let’s dispense with that strawman argument.

    The argument is being offered that there exists this huge, untapped demand for all-electric vehicles, and that most consumers will simply ignore the disadvantages with range and recharging times to embrace these vehicles. Therefore, Toyota, Honda, Ford and GM are missing this huge opportunity by failing to offer said vehicles to the public.

    Which is not accurate, as the demand for these vehicles is extremely limited at best, given their current prices and technology. Sorry, but given the choice between a current-technology all-electric vehicle, and a hybrid Prius, Civic or Escape, virtually everyone is going to go with the latter three choices.

    Stein X Leikanger: GM screwed up badly and is now forced to look for solutions; a few other carmakers created parallel development tracks, and look a lot better as we’re now facing the future.

    Yet, amazingly enough, all of those other automakers brought out hybrids for sale to the general public, not all-electric vehicles.

    Where GM “screwed up badly” was in ignoring the potential for hybrids, and not applying the lessons learned from the EV-1 to a hybrid vehicle, not in abandoning the EV-1.

    Stein X Leikanger: The U.S. “it’s my birthright to drive stupid” mindset is creating a world of hurt, in the U.S.

    Prices would still be rising if SUV drivers were in Focuses, Civics and Yarises.

  • avatar

    Pch101 Says:
    Both the RAV4 EV and the Prius were launched in 1997.
    Should we here include the fact that the Rav4EV “launch” was for fleet leases only? And that the Prius was sold nation-wide to anybody who wanted one, in any color and trim level they wwished to have? And could drive it home that day? One huge fact missed.

    Toyota leased about 800 RAV EV’s.
    Close enough in numbers. 100% of these were to fleets only. Public was not allowed to lease nor purchase. These were built as fleet vehicles, not as private cars. I won’t count this as a second missed fact since it ties into the first one.

    During this same period, Toyota sold almost 53,000 Priuses, outselling the electric car by about 67 to 1.
    And this comparison is significant for what reason? How many bicycles were sold during that same period? How many peaches were picked? The Rav was fleet-lease only. The Prius was sold to everybody.

    Looks as if the facts for the EV are pretty grim.
    To me it looks like my message isn’t getting through. Unless you include all the facts, this information doesn’t have the teeth that you imply.

    If Toyota was interested in the EVit had the opportunity to build EV’s, instead of building Priuses. But it chose not to build them, and to put its priorities elsewhere.
    Nobody is arguing that. GM decided to put their efforts into squeezing that last dollar out of their SUV program.

    If Toyota was interested in the EV, it wouldn’t have killed the project the day after CARB’s elimination of the ZEV requirement. But it did kill it.
    Yes. Because as we all know – they did not want to build EVs. Just like all the other car makers. You may be interested to find that all the car makers desperately tried to avoid positive crankcase ventilation, catalytic converters, seatbelts, etc. Just good business!

    If the public was that interested in the EV, it would have clamored for the product. But instead, the public chose to buy other cars, including the Prius.
    Because the public could NOT buy any production EV, except for the eight months of the Rav4EV program. And then it had to live very near, and actually find the 25 dealershipds in the entire nation that offered these cars. And had to choose between zero trim options, two colors… and wait three (or more!) months for an expensive hand-built car. Oops, another pretty big fact missed.

    I keep asking a question that is being ignored and sidestepped: If EV’s are so great and if demand was so strong, why didn’t Toyota simply build them in volumes equal to or above those of the Prius?
    I have answered it at least three times in the thread already, and I’ll answer it quickly one more time since you seem to have missed it all those other times when I answered directly. Toyota – just like the others – have most of their capital tied up in gasoline engines. Honda is officially the “Honda Motor company.” Car makers build engines. Then they put some sheet metal around them and add seats. They build engines and own all the companies that build the parts for those engines. To suddenly switch to EVs means throwing all that invenstment away and started a new tech that OTHER companies control – llike the batteries. Was I clear enough this time?

    Before you claim conspiracy, notice how many Priuses were built between 1997 and 2000, before Chevron bought the battery patents and filed the lawsuit in late 2001.
    No conspiracy is needed as I’ve said countless times already.

    Before you claim that demand was high, notice how few EV’s were sold, and consider how many other vehicles were sold by Toyota during the same period.
    How many of those cars were only sold from 25 dealerships? For twice the money of a comparable EV? With a 3-month wait? With no trim options? With EXTREMEMLY limited advertising? I’ve considered it. No “market” can be determined until the car is actually marketed. None of the EVs ever has been.

    Toyota filled every sales order for the RAV4 EV that it had.
    Oops. Non-fact alert! How did you determine this one? It is patently untrue. Nothing more to be said, except that with the “facts” that you are working with, I can see you perspective pretty easily.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Should we here include the fact that the Rav4EV “launch” was for fleet leases only?

    Have you considered why that is?

    It’s pretty obvious. Toyota didn’t really believe in the product. Had they believed in it, they would have pushed it as they did with the Prius.

    Obviously, Toyota could have pushed it if they thought that it had potential. Since the car was an effort to get CARB off of their backs, it got a very low priority.

    And this comparison is significant for what reason?

    See above. If Toyota thought that the RAV4 EV was had market potential, they would have built a market for it.

    Instead, they did as little with it as they could get away with, and focused on the Prius instead.

    All of the automakers that got into the EV game did it because they wanted to prove to CARB that the ZEV plan was not going to work. As soon as they got CARB to surrender, they ditched their EV efforts.

    Once again — if EV’s made sense, one of the successful automakers would have grabbed up the market, or an entrepreneur would have already succeeded with it. (They are happy to innovate when it is profitable to innovate.)

    Clearly, they know how to build electric cars. Yet they choose not to.

    They haven’t done it not because electric motors are difficult to build, but because the batteries aren’t up to the job. Too costly and heavy, for too little range and too long of a recharge time. Until the battery problem is addressed, it isn’t worth their while.

    This is reminding me of the “defense of domestic cars” thread, in which the committed fans just refuse to accept the realities of the marketplace. Consumers don’t want what you got. Until you fix what’s missing, they are still going to reject it.

  • avatar
    crash94536

    Geeber;

    thanks for your most recent post, my co-workers and I are still laughing!

  • avatar

    Have you considered why that is?

    It’s pretty obvious. Toyota didn’t really believe in the product. Had they believed in it, they would have pushed it as they did with the Prius.
    I know precisely why Toyota only leased their cars. It is the same reason all the makers did it. And it isn’t what you say here.

    This is reminding me of the “defense of domestic cars” thread, in which the committed fans just refuse to accept the realities of the marketplace. Consumers don’t want what you got. Until you fix what’s missing, they are still going to reject it.
    Instead of making up facts about the EV programs in an attempt support this very simple, and accurate statement, we all could have saved a lot of typing had you written it much earlier.

    Here, you are correct… right up to the point where you assume there ever was a market for EVs. My contention is simply that we do not know if there could have been or currently IS market. Just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it couldn’t or wouldn’t. People won’t buy something they know nothing about – or worse – that they’ve heard negative rumors about.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    My contention is simply that we do not know if there could have been or currently IS market.

    That’s wrong. Every auto company knows that there isn’t a market for a car that can’t go very far and that takes hours to refuel. They don’t need to lose billions building 100,000 of the things and watch them rot on the docks, when the market barely got excited about just over 1,000 of them.

    People won’t buy something they know nothing about – or worse – that they’ve heard negative rumors about.

    The short range and long recharge times are not rumors, they are facts. Really inconvenient facts that make them difficult cars to sell.

    Compare the Prius to the RAV4 EV. Notice how the Prius addresses the technology problems and components of market demand faced by EV’s. Notice which one of these sold in greater numbers.

    It’s not a coincidence. If Toyota wanted to build more EV’s, it could have done so. But it didn’t.

  • avatar
    geeber

    crash93456: thanks for your most recent post, my co-workers and I are still laughing!

    You’re welcome. One hopes that you have all learned something, too.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    evnut – you are alright. You made very good sense all the way through this discussion and best of all you are walking-the-walk by choosing to own and drive an EV.

    I remain confident that “all of a sudden” the car makers will start selling EVs as if the technology just arrived yesterday. They coudl do that today but they’ll do it only when the profit in ICE designs is used up due to high fuel prices. Hopefully this won’t be after we see the “Greenhouse Effect” argument proven (undecided on this myself) or after we get a glimpse of some MadMax scenarios.

    I also expect that this date of “revolutionary” EV arrivals will be around 2010 when Chevron’s patents expire.

    I predict that the car makers would then begin a “education” program (marketing) to show consumers how to incorporate an EV into their daily lives in order to build “consumer awareness”. Am still commonly hearing from folks who don’t know any better why a Prius is a bad idea (expensive battery replacements, magnetic fields = cancer, short battery life)…

    Folks believe what they want to believe I suppose (myself included) but I’ll continue to praise the EV as the next forward thinking step in American life – one that would make what resources we already have last much longer and help our “ruling class” from leading us to more wars to “secure regional influence for American Interests”.

    I maintain that the EV is the right vehicle for most of us commuters and plan to build one if I can’t buy one when my budget allows me to. Will likely take my daily driver and just convert it to a Siemens AC motor and controller and whatever the best battery tech I can afford above and beyond lead acid batteries which I know to last not more than 20K miles. Yes, batteries are the key but we have the tech we need right now to build EV batteries that last.

  • avatar

    Busbodger Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 3:01 pm
    evnut – you are alright. You made very good sense all the way through this discussion and best of all you are walking-the-walk by choosing to own and drive an EV.
    Thanks Busbodger. I can only bang my head against the wall for so long, and I think I’d better take another break after this high note. ;)

  • avatar
    crash94536

    geeber typed; “If they ever deliver one, we can accurately determine what the range is.”

    Well, once again you should do some reading. They have been in production and delivering since Feb. of this year. And yes, the range of the production model is over 200 miles. BTW the 30 hour charging time is if the owner chooses to use 110vac. Much lower charge time if 220 is the power source.

    geeber typed; “Sorry, but no. Those are HUGE challenges,…

    That is not correct, none of those are what anyone I know in engineering would consider a “huge” challenge. I work in this area and especially with the knowledge and tools that engineers currently have at their disposal it actually amounts to more of an opportunity than a “huge” challenge. To most of us a “huge” challenge is completing something that has never been done (and guys like me LOVE those types of challenges). It is SOP and especially for a company that has already travelled down that particular path it is considered more of a “no problem dude”. Keeps guys like me out of the unemployment line.

  • avatar

    The long charge times claim is ridiculous. There are lots of existing technologies for speeding up the charge. The Mitsubishi i-EV does it in 30 minutes with the QuickCharge.

    i-EV can be charged in several different ways: the Household Charger System for charging at home or a parking lot and the Quick Charger System for speedy charging. The Household Charger System will charge the i-EV from either a 100V or 200V ordinary plug located on the right side of the vehicle. Using less expensive midnight power, i-EV can be charged economically in as little as 7 hours on a 200V system.

    With the Quick Charger System, i-EV could be charged via a Quick Charger plug located on the left side of the vehicle. Using a 3-phase 200V 50kW Quick Charger System, i-EV could be charged to 80% peak in as little as 30 minutes.

    In 2007 they drove 100 miles on one charge, and that’s been increased now.

    http://www.mitsubishi-cars.co.uk/futuremodels/index.asp

  • avatar
    crash94536

    geeber typed; “The problem is that you keep extrapolating from the opinions of a very limited sample of customers (who did not represent typical new-car buyers) that there exists this huge untapped demand for electric cars.

    Sorry, but if GM had put the EV-1 on the market, it would have sold in extremely limited numbers at first, and then been completely eclipsed by the Prius.”

    Your reply has nothing to with my question. The whole point is that YES there is an existing market for an EV. Even if it is a small percentage of car buyers, there is a market. I never claimed it was a “HUGE” market. There is also not a “HUGE” market for the Z06, but chevy keeps making money off them. Don’t even claim “car companies are not tooled up to mass produce electric motors”, they are off the shelf items available from several companies. Niether you or I can judge the potential size of said market because none of the car manufacturers wanted to produce the quantity to test or develop the market. But as I pointed out there certainly IS a market.
    BTW, most cars out there are currently being “eclipsed by the Prius”, not a good comparison. The demand is so high for the Prius that in the area I live in, dealers are contacting Prius owners and asking if they want to sell the car back to the dealer in order for them to turn around and resell to someone else.

    geeber typed; “Except that none of those wonderful electric motors offers the convenience and flexibility of a current engine. I have the sneaking suspicion that to do this, those batteries will have to be come much more complex and expensive. Same for the engine.

    And the electric car will still have to come equipped with safety equipment (air bags, safety belts, collapsible steering columns), sound system, climate control system and power equipment (windows, seats, mirrors). It must still be crash-tested by the government, which takes time and money.”

    Once again, that has nothing to do with what I originally pointed out. Even with all the state of the art tooling/manufacuring/knowledge currently in place for the mass production of ICEs they are more expensive to produce and maintain than an electric motor. The crash testing and other dribble you pointed out is irrevelant to the comparison. Besides, if electric motors were produced in the same quantities as ICEs the manufacturing cost would drop considerably.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    He He – marketsize… GM (and others) apparently don’t know how to gauge this now… Keep on pumping out large vehicles…

    Doesn’t matter whether GM builds the next EV or not. They will likely lose that market to the Asians too.

    Guess my next car won’t be a domestic either… My last domestic was an ’81 Mustang. Not bad but not great either compared to my Dad’s Celica of the same era.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Stein X Leikanger: The long charge times claim is ridiculous. There are lots of existing technologies for speeding up the charge. The Mitsubishi i-EV does it in 30 minutes with the QuickCharge.

    Last night I filled up my Accord. It took considerably less than 30 minutes. When an electric car can match that time, let me know…

    crash94536: Well, once again you should do some reading. They have been in production and delivering since Feb. of this year. And yes, the range of the production model is over 200 miles. BTW the 30 hour charging time is if the owner chooses to use 110vac. Much lower charge time if 220 is the power source.

    You seemed to have missed the Tesla Deathwatch series. I printed one entry in my earlier post. Here it is again…apparently, you and I have differing definitions of what constitutes “in production” and “delivering” to customers. Only problem is that the general public agrees with my definitions:

    The mainstream media jumped all over the story that the Tesla Roadster had “begun full production” on March 17 (of this year), And then… nothing. How long will deposit-paying customers wait for their $98k– sorry, $109k lithium-ion-powered carbon fiber-skinned and modified Lotus Elise? Tesla must be wondering the same thing. The Stamford Advocate reports that the Silicon Valley start-up has taken their Roadster on the road, calming customers’ impatience with 20-minute demo drives. Potential Tesla owner and “media company executive” Gary Patrick was realistic about the car’s core appeal: “”You can still feel like you’re fulfilling your green responsibility and reducing your carbon footprint with a car like this.” We also learn that Tesla’s national sales manager reckons her customers could, in theory, recharge their Roadster using “smaller, 110-volt sockets used for a living room lamp or television set.” Only “charging that way could take as long as 30 hours, compared with eight hours on a larger circuit.” Hang-on; setting aside the fact that no one has confirmed ANY recharge time, what happened to the highly-touted three-hour recharge cycle? Same thing that happened to the Roadster’s 250-mile range. Or the idea of selling the Roadster as a “true” sports car. “For now,” Allen prevaricated, “Tesla plans to sell its luxury products largely on the appeal of its eco-friendliness.” Plans to sell, as opposed to selling, ’cause selling implies delivery, of course.

    crash94536: Your reply has nothing to with my question.

    Did the same person who told you that most new-car buyers want to keep their cars “until the engine wears out” tell you this, too?

    crash94536: The whole point is that YES there is an existing market for an EV. Even if it is a small percentage of car buyers, there is a market.

    Basically…because you say so, based apparently on a limited number of specifically chosen people who were allowed to drive an EV-1 for a limited amount of time.

    I’m sure that SOME people want an all-electric car – just as some people would happily drive dead-stock 1955 Chevrolet Bel Airs if they could. But car companies have been in the mass-production business since Henry Ford I applied the assembly line techniques to the automobile industry. They can’t afford to tool up for every kind of vehicle for the whims of a few.

    crash94536: I never claimed it was a “HUGE” market. There is also not a “HUGE” market for the Z06, but chevy keeps making money off them.

    Once again, let’s compare apples to apples, please.

    The Corvette Z06 uses the basic body, engine technology and platform of the base Corvette. There is no really brand-new technology in that car. Also note that the way for Chevy to “make money off of it,” even though it based on an existing car, is by charging over $73,000 for it.

    crash94536: Niether you or I can judge the potential size of said market because none of the car manufacturers wanted to produce the quantity to test or develop the market. But as I pointed out there certainly IS a market.

    And yet, Toyota, after years of work, brought out the Prius, instead of an all-electric vehicle. (I certainly hope that no one is still claiming that Toyota developed the Prius in response to the Chevron battery case, given that it came out and was under development well BEFORE that case was decided.)

    Apparently, either Toyota is staffed by dummies who underestimated electric car demand, or it took a hard look at current technology, the costs and benefits of said technology, what people want and expect from their vehicles, and decided that the gas-electric hybrid was the most practical way to approach this. I’m going with the latter…

    crash94536: Once again, that has nothing to do with what I originally pointed out. Even with all the state of the art tooling/manufacuring/knowledge currently in place for the mass production of ICEs they are more expensive to produce and maintain than an electric motor.

    Except that those internal combustion engines do a much better job of meeting the expectations of consumers, so they are willing to pay the higher cost. And the electric motors still require a battery. The higher cost isn’t in the engine; it’s the batteries.

    When an electric motor/battery has the range, flexibility and recharge time (i.e., almost the same amount of time it takes to fill up the car with gas) of an internal combustion engine, we’ll talk. And we’ll also check the price of those batteries that make it possible.

    crash94536: The crash testing and other dribble you pointed out is irrevelant to the comparison.

    No it’s not, because at this point, all-electric vehicles will have to be lighter and more carefully engineered and designed than conventional vehicles, which will require more expensive materials to meet customer expectations and government mandates. You aren’t going to just drop an electric motor and batteries in a conventional car and call it a day. The EV-1 was about as far from that as we can get…

  • avatar

    Last night I filled up my Accord. It took considerably less than 30 minutes. When an electric car can match that time, let me know…
    Last night I filled up my Prius, and I filled up my Rav4EV. All I cared about is how much of MY time, each fillup took. After driving out of my way to the gas station, undoing the gas door and cap, fishing the credit card out of my wallet, choosing grade and stuffing the nozzle in. Standing around for a few minutes picking the lint out of my belly button, doing everything in reverse, and getting back onto the road to my destination, took over 15 minutes. Charging my EV took me (literally) two seconds. Doesn’t bother me at all how long my commute vehicle sits in the garage on the charger. All I care about is how much of MY time is invested in the project.

    And to answer your question, we already CAN recharge in astonishingly quick times. There is just no reason to for most situations. Still, we could install fast chargers all over the place for a heck of a lot less money than gas stations cost to build.

    Apparently, either Toyota is staffed by dummies who underestimated electric car demand, or it took a hard look at current technology, the costs and benefits of said technology, what people want and expect from their vehicles, and decided that the gas-electric hybrid was the most practical way to approach this. I’m going with the latter…
    Going with the latter, and ignoring the fact that Toyota is first and foremost a publicly-traded engine company. Do you, or ANBYODY, think that car makers are most concerned with what is best for the consumer? Or is it more likely that they are more concerned with what will sell the most units at the highest margin to make the most shareholder money? If you think those two concepts are one and the same, then there’s really not much more to talk about. If they WERE one and the same why would the auto industry spend billions advertising SUVs to people who will never drive off-road, nor tow anything bigger than the hitch that comes with the beast?

    I agree that auto makers build what the public wants… but only after they tell us what we want and why. But of course advertising doesn’t work, right? And yet GM spends about as much on advertising each year as the whole EV1 program cost. Anyway… what we’re told we “want” and what is best for us is quite dissimilar.

    Except that those internal combustion engines do a much better job of meeting the expectations of consumers
    I keep hearing stories about how “inconvenient” $100 fillups are for those interal combustion engines? Is this one of the expectations that comsumers have? High fuel costs? And I know how much I like taking the car in for (or doing my own) oil changes and tuneups. Yes, people “expect” this, and don’t realize that there is an alternative.

    And we’ll also check the price of those batteries that make it possible.
    We should probably check the price of gas at that same time. And maybe even include all the external costs that we don’t pay at the pump for the pleasure of burning that golden juice.

    The status quo is one of the strongest forces in nature. I amazes me how much energy people put into maintaining it, when it is self-supporting. I keep wondering what happened to that American “can-do” attitude that defined us a generation ago. Now I hear so much “we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing because it is good enough.” I’d rather strive for something better and risk failure than to stick with what we have now and fail for certain.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Toyota is first and foremost a publicly-traded engine company.

    Toyota is a conglomerate that began by making looms. They are in the manufactured housing business, they have a biotech investment arm, and they make boats, plus they are in the finance business.

    You keep repeating it, but you have not substantiated your position that Toyota doesn’t make EV’s simply because it’s addicted to gas engines. If Toyota was singleminded about internal combustion motors as you claim, they would have never bothered with hybrids in the first place.

    Clearly, you want to ignore the market. Toyota is in the business of making money, and they profit by paying attention to the market. As a result, they dumped EV’s the first chance that they got.

    Unfortunately, these efforts made for CARB created this small contingent of hopefuls who had far more hope for the projects than the companies that had to pay for them.

    It’s easy to be a cheerleader for EV’s if you aren’t the company stuck with the expense of building, distributing and servicing them. They were heavily subsidized, yet still weren’t profitable or popular.

    If they aren’t profitable, it’s because consumers won’t pay enough to cover the cost. Given the lack of benefit to the consumer, that reluctance to pay is understandable — for what little they deliver, they cost far too much. The only way to overcome the consumer’s range and recharge problems would be to lower the price, but that clearly isn’t possible.

  • avatar

    Toyota is a conglomerate that began by making looms. They are in the manufactured housing business, they have a biotech investment arm, and they make boats, plus they are in the finance business.
    You got me there. Of course I’m talking about the automobile division. The one you get to when you type “toyota.com” for example.

    You keep repeating it, but you have not substantiated your position that Toyota doesn’t make EV’s simply because it’s addicted to gas engines.
    I give you HUGE credit for at least mentioning this apparently frightening idea that all others have ignored until right now. Addicted is the wrong word. “Heavily invested” is the proper phrase. Do you contend that Toyota is NOT heavily invested in the ICE? Do you contend that throwing away the 100 years of (combined) ICE R&D would be a wise business decision?

    Unfortunately, these efforts made for CARB created this small contingent of hopefuls
    Quite true. Missing here again is the fact that GM’s first EV was introduced before the CARB mandate existed. The mandate scared the living poop out of GM, but the mandate did not force GM to develop the EV1. Just a little nit.

    Clearly, you want to ignore the market.
    Not at all. Not even a little bit. You contend that there is no market for a vehicle that has never been marketed. YOu seem to think this is so because the auto companies just “know” that there is no market for an EV. I contend that since EVs have never been marketed, that we have no clue if there is a market for them. Certainly we all agree that the market is different today than yesterday. Ignoring the market is what you seem to be guilty of – if there is in fact a market for them. But we don’t know, do we? We can sure guess and say that Americans are far too bright to want a vehicle with just 100 or 200 miles of range. But we haven’t asked them. WE haven’t asked if they’d like to commute in a more convenient car that saves them money, time… and that saves our resources and clean environment. I want to find out about the market and NOT ignore it. The tide has turned though, and no amount of sticking our heads in the sand will keep plug-in cars off the market for much longer. I would so love to revisit this thread in about ten years.

    Toyota is in the business of making money, and they profit by paying attention to the market.
    Then they never would have marketed the Prius. There was no market for that vehicle until Toyota created one – through great patience, expense and effort. If the CARB writing had not been on the wall, and Toyota had been as thick-headed about it as GM (and so many others) then they would not have brought the Prius to market – and would have continued down the same pure-ICE path as the others. They gambled in creating their market in advance of the mandates, and they won. They didn’t wait for the market to tell them what was needed – they created it. They created the greenest car they could that still used an ICE. A car that they could market as “electric without the plug.” A car that could be considered green but that required no alteration from the norm. The car had all this going for it, and it was still a tough sell.

    Or.. maybe I’m full of it up to my eyeballs. I don’t discount that. And I agree that with cheap gas, nobody gave a damn about electric cars. From a short-sighted business perspective, the wise move was for all companies to terminate their EV programs as quickly as possible. Let’s fast-forward to today… to the long-term business perspective of ten years ago. What I see is people NOT desperately trying to figure out how to keep burning gasoline in their cars. My EV site now sees half a million visitors a month. And my site is just a little more than nothing in the grand scheme of things. When gas was $2.50, I had about 200 visits a month. People tail me on the freeway, and follow me off my exit to ask where they can buy a car like mine. Though I don’t drive all that much, I end up talking to 50-100 people a week about my car when they see me in it. (some days this is a real PITA when I need to get stuff done! My wife takes the brunt of it since she commutes in the car every day) This didn’t happen when the car was new. But it sure happens now. At $1.50/gallon gas, this car was a curiosity. Now it is all people want to talk about.

    Every major car maker has promised a plug-in car (of some flavor – with or without a supporting ICE) in the next few years. They are doing this because the market is finally demanding it. The market is finally demanding it because of the cost of gas, and the concern for the environment (in that order, I’m afraid).

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Missing here again is the fact that GM’s first EV was introduced before the CARB mandate existed.

    You keep saying this, and this is false. The ZEV mandate was imposed in 1990. The EV1 program began specifically in order to comply with the ZEV mandate.

    Knowing that the vehicles did not yet exist in 1990, CARB gave the automakers until 1998 to comply with the ZEV rules. GM launched the EV1 in 1996, most likely to demonstrate that the upcoming requirement was not realistic. Of course, we all know what happened as soon as it was no longer mandatory.

    Do you contend that Toyota is NOT heavily invested in the ICE?

    Toyota is heavily invested in making money. If they could build a successful electric car and make money from it, of course they would build it in a heartbeat.

    If anything, they would dive into it because if having one was as fantastic as you believe it is, this super EV wundercar would give them a unique advantage that none of their competition would have.

    The problem is that Toyota did no better with electrics than did anyone else. They also could not solve the range and recharge problems inherent to the battery-dependent car. They know that customers are not willing to buy such cars in large enough numbers to make them worth their while.

    What’s sad about electrics is that nobody who has built them has managed to fix the range and recharge problem. Not Toyota, not GM, not Honda, not Ford and not Tesla. Nobody.

    They have had a century to overcome these barriers, but they have not, despite spending large sums on their development. Investing more money would have just lost them more money.

    It’s no wonder that no one wants to bother — every effort ultimately fails. The only way that might make sense is to sell them as weekend cars at six figure prices, as Tesla is trying to do, and even that doesn’t seem to be going very well.

  • avatar

    You keep saying this, and this is false. The ZEV mandate was imposed in 1990. The EV1 program began specifically in order to comply with the ZEV mandate.
    Want to know why I keep saying it? Becuase I actually know what happened. And heck, anybody can read about it if they wish. There was an entire book written on it call the “The Car that Could.” Even a quick Google search turns up the facts in the matter. The Impact (prototype of the EV1) was shown at an auto show, and on Earth day, 1990, Roger Smith publicly stated that GM would mass produce the EV1 before 1998. Soon thereafter, the ZEV mandate was born… in 1990, as you correctly state. So yeah, you got the mandate date right, but apparently forgot that the EV1 Prototype was already on display by then.

    So I’m curious. When I say stuff, do you just automatically assume that I’m making it up? It would appear that is the case, and I only find out quite a bit later that the facts are again being dismissed as just coming from a fringe lunatic such as myself.

    It seems that you have made up your mind on all this, and you want to massage the facts to fit your version of the situation. When they don’t fit, we just move on to other significant items of interest, like Americans NEED long range and fast refill times, and all car makers know this! The other details don’t really matter, apparently. The few EV drivers like me are wrong and are just dreaming about there being any benefits to EV ownership.

    if having one was as fantastic as you believe it is
    Well here’s something that I do feel strongly about. You write this as if EVs are some sort of abstract thing that you can believe in or not. My family has been driving electric for more than seven years now. We average just under 12,000 miles/year in electric vehicles. We use them for over 90% of our trips by choice. I have a Priusr at my disposal, and we use it when we need to. We have lived with EVs for a significant number of years and miles. We have direct experience with them and truly understand their limitations and their benefits. YOu have denegrated my situation to a “belief” when my situation is direct personal experience… while YOURS is nothing more than a belief. You believe that EVs have no benefits over gas cars. You believe that there never was, nor will there be, a market for EVs. Yet there is nothing to support those beliefs except that it is apparently OBVIOUS to any thinking individual. The details in the matter are just annoyances. Yes, you have the world of EV-ignorance on your side, so you argue from a strong standpoint. Doesn’t make it any more valid, however.

    I know what EVs are capable of. I know what they are not capable of. I know the plusses and minuses of gas cars as well. I currently own one of each and can compare them directly. Bringing this whole equation down to range and recharge time loses site of the big picture, and *completely* ignores the benefits of driving electric, of course.

    OK, have at it. I’m off the grid for the next week, so can’t even reply.

    Best,
    - Darell

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Want to know why I keep saying it? Becuase I actually know what happened.

    Then you should know that the Impact was a show car. GM only later produced the number of EV1′s that it did because of the ZEV requirement, that was imposed six years before GM began leasing the few EV1′s that it did.

    The auto industry is full of show cars. Most of them are styling and PR exercises. You have to be really anxious to find a silver lining if you confuse a show car with an earnest mass production program.

    You write this as if EVs are some sort of abstract thing that you can believe in or not.

    They aren’t abstract at all. We’ve had them for over a century, and they continue to lag because of the same basic deficiencies of range and recharge time that they always have.

    The fact that the failures of EV’s are not just an abstraction highlights the problem. As practical vehicles for the average consumer, they make no sense at all to anyone but a few rabid fans.

    The lack of market support is far from abstract. People simply don’t want these cars. If you want to change that, then figure out how to eliminate the problems that make them unable to compete in the market. Until you do, expect them to drive something else, because only a tiny minority of drivers want them. You happen to be in that tiny minority, but it’s still tiny.

  • avatar
    mlhm5

    Not really off subject, but if anyone at any car company or our federal government was really interested in ending our dependence on oil they would have marketed CNG cars with generous tax breaks years ago.

    The USA has a 100 year supply of natural gas (5th largest in the world) and that’s if every single car and home used natural gas.

    The world has a 1000 year supply.

    Yet we still have coal fired power plants and use 20+% of the world’s oil.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    The EV is BACK! Not the Rav4EV or the EV-1. This time is a sports utility truck by Phoenix Motors. Just saw this one on the ‘net this morn.

    250 mile range, 0-60 speeds under 10 seconds (just), and 110 mph top speed. It is a normal sized vehicle with normal features.

    Since most of my in town travels take me fewer than 20 miles at a time and even my out of town travels take me less than 100 miles from home – this might be the right vehicle. Four doors, seating for 4 or five people and a cargo bed to carry stuff home from the hardware store or bikes to the park or groceries from grocery store. In other words it is similar to the Subieroo Baja that disappeared a year or two ago.

    This meets all of my needs in a vehicle and I will be SERIOUSLY looking into the further when I buy my next car. It is more expensive than I want to spend on a car/trucklet but we’ll see where the market is when I am actually BUYING one.

    Question is – with the tech being available – why aren’t the mainstream companies building these already???

    Oh never mind – dead horse… VBG!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States