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EV1: GM’s ill-fated attempt at going electric

 Posted by on January 8, 2010
Jan 082010

By Bill Sullivan
Green Right Now

While electric cars are getting a lot of attention these days, powering your automobile with a different kind of juice is hardly a new concept.

GM's EV1 made an appearance in the 1990s before being withdrawn

GM's EV1 made an appearance in the 1990s before being withdrawn

Remember EV1? General Motors pioneered the electric car way back in the mid-‘90s. When its concept car, Impact, drew favorable reviews at the start of that decade, GM decided to move forward with the next generation EV1, the first electric car designed for mass production.

EV1 could get up to 100 miles on a full charge. Unfortunately, you couldn’t buy one. GM chose only to lease the vehicles, and only in certain areas, mostly in California. Before as many as a thousand of them were on the road, the cost of producing each vehicle – independently estimated at up to $80,000 — proved so prohibitive that GM gave up on the whole idea and stopped production in 2003.

Not only were the existing EV1s recalled, but the manufacturer crushed most of them, leaving only a few for museums and educational entities, with the stipulation that they never be driven.

While EV1 is essentially gone, it is hardly forgotten. The controversial decision, coupled with the vehicle’s near-cult following, later inspired a movie, Who Killed the Electric Car? The film suggests that EV1 was a victim of a conspiracy between GM and the oil companies to protect the status quo. Of course, that price tag might have been an issue, too.

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