Most people coming here either for the first time or regularly are likely to have heard about the EV-1, GM's previous electric. But not as well known is GM's more distant electric vehicle history. Automotive News has an excellent article detailing some of that.

From 1912 to 1917 GM built a line of electric trucks. In the early to mid 1960s GM built several electric car prototypes. They were called the Electrovair I and II and were based on the Chevy Corvair. These cars used silver-zinc batteries and had from 40 to 80 mile ranges. The gas crisis of the 1970s prompted the appearance of an electric Chevy Chevette.

It was in 1990 that GM introduced the forebear concept car to the EV-1. It was called the Impact and was a two-seater with 120 mile range. A 50 car test fleet was built in 1993 and was driven by 1000 consumers and utility companies. Encouraged by the Impact's performance, GM went on to build the EV-1.

The EV-1 was introduced in 1996, and 1000 were built between 1996 and 1999.

The EV-1's waiting list, a paltry 5000 people (compared to the 44,000 already here on GM-Volt.com) apparently only led to 50 qualified lessees. Having spent $1 billion on the program, GM found current and future servicing those cars too expensive and combined with the departure of the CARB mandate, pulled the plug and crushed them.

Despite the ensuing conspiracy theories, GM learned a great deal from the EV-1 experience and it has led to the Volt program.

GM vice chair Bob Lutz has noted that EV-1 development "solved a lot of fundamental problems" on how to engineer an electric vehicle. He also notes that those GM engineers initially working on the EV-1 program, "were scattered in the wind," but now that the Volt program is active, GM "got them all back," thinking, "their ship has come in."

Source ( Automotive News )