Question of the Day: Dude, Where's My EV1?

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman
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question of the day dude where s my ev1

In 1996, General Motors rolled-out the infamous EV1. The battery-powered car satisfied California zero emissions regulations (its raison d'etre), sat two, could travel 160 miles (or less) on a charge and plugged into a wall outlet. The General leased 1,117 EV1s. By all accounts, the lessees loved the car. GM killed the EV1 in 2003, claiming they couldn't make a profit on the vehicle. The automaker also maintained that they'd sunk $1b in R&D into the project. GM destroyed the vast majority of the returned EV1s and decided to sue California to recoup their development costs (even though the Clinton administration had deferred $500m in costs). Fast forward five years. Where the hell is the EV1? Forget for a minute all the drawbacks (runs off electricity derived from oil and coal, no storage space, insanely heavy) and think about $4.69 a gallon gas (what I paid this morning). Consumers are clamoring for this very car. Speaking frankly, the people least shocked by the Volt's painful birth has to be General Motors. 2010? Good luck. Why not bring back the EV1 now? Not tomorrow, but right now. Why not?

Jonny Lieberman
Jonny Lieberman

Cleanup driver for Team Black Metal V8olvo.

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  • Paul Niedermeyer Paul Niedermeyer on Jun 09, 2008

    I'll add one more thought on the EV1: Both the good and bad that came from the EV1 (and the Hondota EV's) are the result of a government mandate to build EV's. Bad idea. Raise gas prices through taxes: yes. But don't tell manufacturers what to build. If EV's had been built as a direct consequence of consumer demand and the manufacturers hadn't been forced to subsidize them, the EV1 and the others would never have happened. That's why they were flawed, and GM walked away.

  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Jun 09, 2008

    I certainly agree about technology neutral.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jun 09, 2008

    Anyone want to address the argument that EVs would take business away from the manufacturer and dealer networks in terms of maintenance and repair parts? I still want an EV. A RAV4-EV would be perfect if it was a Jetta sport wagon sized and styled vehicle. Am tired of waiting. The technology is here now but banks don't generally like to finance homebuilt EVs so most of us will be waiting (or saving) for the store bought variety. By saying the tech is here now - I mean a good 100 mile car with some compromises (want max A/C? You'll get less range). Still a 100 mile range EV would fill the needs of my family and most of the people we know. There are exceptions... Get them on the road and the tech will evolve quickly. Within a decade we'll wonder why we drove these polluting fossil fuel powered cars of today. Of course alot of economic shifting will take place. Gone will go most gas stations. There just won't be a point to most of them anymore. You can charge at home and not buy gas except to power your ICE vehicle for out of town trips. Gone will go the radiator shops. Much of the FLAPS businesses. Muffler shops. Etcetera. I am beginning to think the big guys see the big shift coming (decade or two?) to electrics and big oil is trying to get their profits while they can. I really love our ICE cars but would be just as happy to power them with electricity.

  • WillC WillC on Aug 11, 2009

    Hey dude your EV1 is gone man. 'Cause the institutional investors told the board, and the board told Wagoneer, and Rick told the EV1 team. No electric cars buddy. We have lots more $$ tied up in Oil shares than in GM shares so can that EV1 OK! So Rick sold the battery patents to Exon And got 300 million for them - way easier than selling cars... (and we kept the govt research grants too hehehehe so really, we made a profit)