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Immortalised on film, General Motors' original electric car was ahead of its time. Now, new evidence suggests the reasons behind the EV1's demise weren't as sinister as Hollywood claims.




So who did kill the General Motors EV1? Conventional wisdom, as espoused in the 2006 film Who killed the Electric Car? is that the battery powered vehicle made between 1996 and 1999 was herded into a pen and given a lethal injection because it failed to fit in with the obscene moneymaking urges and generally wicked corporate culture of GM.

Link: http://www.wheelsmag.com.au/wheels/site/articleIDs/34A629AA9D8DEB6FCA25744F0014DEC4
 

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A likely story. GM just wanted consumers to give all their money to oil companies rather than to them. Or maybe idiocy in California set GM back a decade or so in their development of a hybrid. Flip a coin.
 

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That makes more sense. And it's ironic that California did the original design in.
 

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This is a pretty well beaten dead horse...

My wife was a manufacturing engineer for the EV1 and was there at the end. The corporate line was that the EV1 was a success. They proved it could be done, they had invented new technologies that would would benefit future gas and electric programs. Her friends were working on a second generation vehicle that was a more upscaled vehicle based on the demographics of the current leasers. However, it all kind of fizzled because the technology wasn't quite there and it's champion retired.

I worked as a computer consultant for a variety of groups in the Renaissance Center, one of which was a mid level manager for the fleet group. He was the type that didn't wasn't really moving up, but had the connections and sledge hammer tactics that got him all the difficult and strange projects. Anyhow, his take was that the project was that it was a complete and utter failure... so much so that the group leader was retired and the group disbanded and that all of the alternative energy projects were given to fleet. That no one but a few rich hippies gave a damn about the cars and people had to practically have their arms twisted to lease the ones that were leased. He asserted that a small improvement in fleet vehicles was worth any number of EV1s or priuses.

Which ever spin you choose, it was a business decision and the billion or so dollars they lost were not insignificant. No oil companies, no conspiracies, just making responsible fiscal choices.

I hope Cali goes electric vehicle CRAZY, so I can laugh when they have to choose between cooling/lighting their houses and charging their vehicles. Their electrical grid can't handle their current load, how do they think they can add something as demanding as a large number of electric vehicles?
 

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I think it was Video. Killing The Radio Star was not enough and in it's bloodlust it took out the EV1, knowing that no one would ever suspect it. It's was almost the perfect crime. Either that or OJ. :rolleyes:
 

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That makes more sense. And it's ironic that California did the original design in.
Yep, sounds a lot like the old law of unintended consequences.

Further proof that technology advancements can't be legislated.

I'm trying to remember the statistic, but I believe California had to back down on their zero emissions mandates half a dozen times from the point they were intially released. And of course, PZEVs aren't truly zero emissions, but since 2% of all vehicles were never going to be electrics in the near future, they let them slide. It really is almost a joke.
 

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By killing EV1 Gm killed its self. Instead of being leader in eco. technology. Now that is toyota. If gm just kept improving this car each year i am sure by now it would be way better then volt that does not even exist yet. I am sure gm would not be losing market share like they are losing now. This is another one of gm mistakes. Please try not to say that technology did not exist for electric car. Most of you do not know first car that porche made over 100 years ago was electric car. Second car that porche made was hybrid like Volt. Technology was there even 100 years ago. It just looks like that oil companies have to much power.
 

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The other part that isn't told is the sheer cost of those 1000 cars. At the time there wasn't a great gold rush to electric cars. They were ahead of their time as the public appetite was simply not there. Those 1000 cars when combined with all the tooling cost, the aftersales support,plant cost, overhead etc cost us in excess off 1 million a piece to put on the road and manage for a year. Thats a billion dollars a year. Could any of you concieve of taking that kind of business case to your management and getting it approved. While its easy to armchair quarterback the demise of this vehicle today the economic and marketing facts at the time it was built are undeniable. Also the simple facts are and were there was no mad rush beyond the initial offering of buyers flocking to lease one. The only reason GM did it in the first place is the requirement that if you wanted to sell vehicles in California you had to offer a zero emmissions vehicle in limited form. California and APS also promised the charging infrastructure that never materialized. Otherwise GM would have never done it in the first place. The reason GM took the car back is it released them from having to floor and provide replacement parts and service for 10 years after the fact. The overhead cost for a single part number is in the range of 50 grand. Now go figure out what that costs.

The Prius while ahead of its time owes its rise to prominence to one event and one event only. Hurricane Katarina. This was the watershed event in history that caused speculalated fuel price hikes and began the Prius rise to prominence. Oil speculation has risen and become rampant since that one event and Toyota owes its sales success of that vehicle to chance and being in the right place at the right time more than some great feat of long term planning. Given that event had not happened the prius today would have been cancled already as it was a money loser for several years before the right event in history made it a truely viable product in the marketplace.
 

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By killing EV1 Gm killed its self. Instead of being leader in eco. technology. Now that is toyota. If gm just kept improving this car each year i am sure by now it would be way better then volt that does not even exist yet. I am sure gm would not be losing market share like they are losing now. This is another one of gm mistakes. Please try not to say that technology did not exist for electric car. Most of you do not know first car that porche made over 100 years ago was electric car. Second car that porche made was hybrid like Volt. Technology was there even 100 years ago. It just looks like that oil companies have to much power.
Did you even read the article? Have you heard of the Volt? The Volt is the successor to the EV1. It is was the next gen EV1 was intended to be, but California's own legislation at the time killed it, since it would be a PZEV, not a ZEV, which is what they were mandating. By the time they changed, GM had already decided to scrap the project. You might want to edit your post into something more intelligent rather than your usual GM bashing, or not, w/e.
 

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This is a pretty well beaten dead horse...

That no one but a few rich hippies gave a damn about the cars and people had to practically have their arms twisted to lease the ones that were leased.

Talk about rewriting history. There were waiting lists of people who wanted the car. But that is beating a dead.

Today if you go to Chevrolet.com and get info on the Malibu Hybrid GM/Chevy boldly proclaim "***availability severly limited" GM makes some of the hardest to find hybrids in the world. You could probably find Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa before finding a Malibu Hybrid. OK, I'm exaggerating but you get the idea.


Seriously, the relevant part of the article is that Toyota will have been producing the Prius for a dozen years before the Volt will hit the streets. Everyone can make fun of California and the Prius but with hundreds of thousands sold it is pathetic that GM has been unable to compete with it. This isn't GM bashing because I only buy GM, but it is a disappointment and it has hurt the company.
 

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By killing EV1 Gm killed its self. Instead of being leader in eco. technology. Now that is toyota. If gm just kept improving this car each year i am sure by now it would be way better then volt that does not even exist yet. I am sure gm would not be losing market share like they are losing now. This is another one of gm mistakes. Please try not to say that technology did not exist for electric car. Most of you do not know first car that porche made over 100 years ago was electric car. Second car that porche made was hybrid like Volt. Technology was there even 100 years ago. It just looks like that oil companies have to much power.
The technology wasn't there, go tell me the speed and range of those two PorSches and come back.

You love to hate GM, I don't know why you are here, and even more fun is your very pleasant elitist attitude, don't tell us what "most of us don't know" when you don't have a damn clue yourself.

In case you haven't noticed, your beloved Toyota doesn't have an electric car either, nor does Honda, so maybe, just MAYBE the technology isn't as feasible yet as you claim. But no, I'm sure you're smarter than all of us.
 

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Never understood why GM abandoned the EV market. The EV1 had brand awareness,yet GM let it vanished. Why is it we do not have an EV2 running around today? Why is it instead of Tesla glossing the mags it isn't a GM EV2?.................Another marketing gone.
 

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The technology wasn't there, go tell me the speed and range of those two PorSches and come back.

You love to hate GM, I don't know why you are here, and even more fun is your very pleasant elitist attitude, don't tell us what "most of us don't know" when you don't have a damn clue yourself.

In case you haven't noticed, your beloved Toyota doesn't have an electric car either, nor does Honda, so maybe, just MAYBE the technology isn't as feasible yet as you claim. But no, I'm sure you're smarter than all of us.
+1

Back 100 years ago, nobody knew which power source would win. There were gas powered cars, electric powered cars, and steam powered cars. The idea of the "big oil" conspiracy back then is a joke and laughable at best.

It sure was nice around here when vcdj was banned, too bad it wasn't permanent.
 

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I remember renting "Who killed the electric car" simply because I like to watch a variety of documentaries to capture a different opinion about the same topic. Based on what I heard, I expected 90 minutes or so of GM bashing, and I have to say that that wasn't the experience that I walked away with after watching the movie. Sure, there was some finger pointing, sure they linked the EV-1's death with the rise of the H2. But I also found a movie that indicted several others in the death of the electric car, including the CA government. And it's important to remember that GM's EV-1 was star of the show because it was GM that led the field at that time. My hope is that the Volt will re-capture some of that lost momentum, including stirring up the crazy-dedicated fans of the vehicle. I like my GM car and all, but these people were insane!

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I hope Cali goes electric vehicle CRAZY, so I can laugh when they have to choose between cooling/lighting their houses and charging their vehicles. Their electrical grid can't handle their current load, how do they think they can add something as demanding as a large number of electric vehicles?
I, too, hope that Cali goes electric vehicle CRAZY. Since most of these cars will be recharged at a time when most people are sleeping(!) and electricity demand falls(!), GM hopefully will be able to lead the electric car revolution-again-and eventually profit handsomely, either directly through electric car sales or indirectly through the more environmentally friendly face it will paint on the RenCen.
 

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...It sure was nice around here when vcdj was banned, too bad it wasn't permanent.
One of the pleasures of coming to this site is the variety of opinion that you find about the same topics. VCDJ isn't particularly articulate, and he often times comes across as a troll, of sorts, but I'm not so sure that I'd like to see him or anyone banned permanently. It sounds like he's generally motivated to see GM improve, though his suggestions come across as completely out of left field most of the time. But every once in a great while he has made a reasonable point-don't press me for an example. While it may require sifting through incredibly poorly written prose, I usually don't take him too seriously.
 

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By killing EV1 Gm killed its self. Instead of being leader in eco. technology. Now that is toyota.
Toyota killed it's electric vehicle too. GM took all the flak because their car was by far the best of the electrics. It had the most promise. Not Toyota's. Not Porsche's. But they all "killed" their electrics.

If gm just kept improving this car each year i am sure by now it would be way better then volt that does not even exist yet. I am sure gm would not be losing market share like they are losing now. This is another one of gm mistakes.
If Toyota had continued to spend the billions on the developement of their (greatly inferior) electric vehicles, GM's market share would be through the roof, since Toyota would be out of business.

Please try not to say that technology did not exist for electric car. Most of you do not know first car that porche made over 100 years ago was electric car. Second car that porche made was hybrid like Volt. Technology was there even 100 years ago. It just looks like that oil companies have to much power.
And those "technologically superior" electric Porsches were so successful, that the roads are covered with them now..........oh wait.

Yes, technology existed to build a car that could just barely move for a short distance on electric power a 100 years ago. Did you know that PLENTY of companies (in addition to Porsche) built electric vehicles back then? Every one of those companies gave up and went out of business, or started to build FUNCTIONAL vehicles.

The technology didn't exist then to build an electric vehicle that could even come remotely close to competing with the gas engine cars. Maybe, just MAYBE, we are getting into that ability very soon. But no, that technology did not exist 100 years ago, or even twenty years ago. Maybe soon.
 

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I'm sure Enron, or whoever is the new Enron would be more than happy to sell them overpriced electricity.


I hope Cali goes electric vehicle CRAZY, so I can laugh when they have to choose between cooling/lighting their houses and charging their vehicles. Their electrical grid can't handle their current load, how do they think they can add something as demanding as a large number of electric vehicles?
 

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The infrastructure issue still exists. While you can build an electric vehicle right now today that will go a hundred miles what about the guy that forgets to plug in his car one night. Who leaves half charged and gets stuck in rush hour and the batteries are exhausted. He's not just going to stop and plug into 110. The vehicles will have dedicated wall mounted chargers and there is no standard connection method established yet.

The other issue is that while GM is mocked for 40 mile range the volt could concievably go 100 running the batteries 0 to 100 percent charge cycle. However the reality is that if you want them to live 150 miles you may only be able to charge to 80% and discharge to 30%. Full cycling lithium batteries greatly reduces their life cycle. Hence limited battery range.

The other thing about the EV1 was at the time of its release lead acid was the only choice. (these were the facts the day it was released) Nickel Metal was unproven technology albiet GM was testing Nickel packs. By the time nickel was viable it was game over. Toyotas Rav4 was a couple years behind the EV1 in its launch which was why Nickle was available, however it was launched and killed almost before anyone knew it existed.
Because the EV1 was lead acid battery based it could only be leased in limited markets where the weather was warm as lead acid batteries don't perform in cold weather worth ****. This is the reason that the car was launched on the west coast on top of the California mandate. GM knew at the time it was not a nation wide marketable vehicle due to climate conditions and may never be. It was DOA.

The technology for the EV1 was not all lost though as many of the designs for the lighting, accessories like AC and heat are being redesigned with the latest advances and directly applied to the Volt.
 

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<P>
Did you even read the article? Have you heard of the Volt? The Volt is the successor to the EV1. It is was the next gen EV1 was intended to be, but California's own legislation at the time killed it, since it would be a PZEV, not a ZEV, which is what they were mandating. By the time they changed, GM had already decided to scrap the project. You might want to edit your post into something more intelligent rather than your usual GM bashing, or not, w/e.

Just my opinion, but it seems like a bit of stretch to say that California killed the project because the EV1 with a turbine would have made it a PZEV and not a ZEV. Its not as though GM could not have decided to produce the car with a turbine for markets other then California. And ( IMO) it seems pretty reasonable to think that if the PZEV was successful (granted, a big "IF") California would have ultimately wanted it and changed the regulation. As it is, they changed the regulations anyway. Regardless, it isn't like an EV1 with a turbine couldn't have been sold in Califonia either. It just wouldn't have counted toward the zero emissions mandate.
 

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Toyota killed it's electric vehicle too. GM took all the flak because their car was by far the best of the electrics. It had the most promise. Not Toyota's. Not Porsche's. But they all "killed" their electrics.



And those "technologically superior" electric Porsches were so successful, that the roads are covered with them now..........oh wait.

Yes, technology existed to build a car that could just barely move for a short distance on electric power a 100 years ago. Did you know that PLENTY of companies (in addition to Porsche) built electric vehicles back then? Every one of those companies gave up and went out of business, or started to build FUNCTIONAL vehicles.

The technology didn't exist then to build an electric vehicle that could even come remotely close to competing with the gas engine cars. Maybe, just MAYBE, we are getting into that ability very soon. But no, that technology did not exist 100 years ago, or even twenty years ago. Maybe soon.
GM, Ford, Honda, and Toyota all axed their EV programs. The difference between GM, Ford and Toyota is, that Ford and Toyota allowed the owners to buy their EV's outright, along with a release stating that the buyer knew that the automaker would NOT be supporting the vehicles with replacement parts. GM and Honda chose to crush their cars. Honda got away with their decision soley because they leased VERY few vehicles. GM had a comparatively large number of them on the raod. IMO, had GM followed Ford and Toyota's lead on letting the lease owners buy their car's outright, they would have received FAR less flack over cancelling their EV program.
 
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