Although it was one of the first electric cars ever developed and put on the market, it is almost impossible to find an EV1 by General Motor in working order. Available between 1996 and 2002, the EV1 was the first of its kind to be mass-produced. Due to the technology being newly developed, the EV1 was leased to customers, and not sold, in order for customers to test out the vehicle. However, in 2002, the EV1s were repossessed and later demolished even though the majority of customers were happy with them and desired to keep driving them. Due to the mass destruction of the EV1, only a few of them exist today. For this reason, and the fact that it was the first ever electric car on the market, they are coveted by car collectors.
The Origin of the EV1
There is disagreement when it comes to the origin of the EV1. For some experts, the EV1 was developed after being inspired by GM’s Sunraycer, the solar-powered electric car that had been designed as a student project for the World Solar Challenge in 1990. However, others believe that the EV1 was designed after its electric concept car, the 1990 Impact, was a huge hit at the LA Auto Show. Others still believe that the decision was made due to the California Air Resources Board’s decision to force carmakers to create vehicles that did not emit emissions. Although we may never know the real reason for the decision to develop the EV1, we do know that the decision to do so was made in 1989. The prototype at the time cost a whopping three million dollars and was debuted the next year at the LA Auto Show.
Availability of the EV1
As we mentioned above, there are only a small number of EV1s still in existence. One of the reasons for this is the fact that not many were made available when it was first released. Again, it was only made available for lease and was only available at first in LA, Tucson, and Phoenix (and later in some cities in Georgia and Sacramento and San Francisco). If you able to lease the EV1 at the time, you would have to find a Saturn dealership in the event that it needed to be serviced.
There were two generations of the EV1 produced. The first of the two generations was released beginning in 1996. These first generation EV1s were powered by 312V lead-acid batteries and could run anywhere from 70 to 100 miles. They were also only available in a limited number of colors. Beginning in 1999, the second generation EV1s ran on a 312V 18.7 kilowatt-hour lead-acid battery pack. These batteries were later replaced with a 343V 26.4 kilowatt-hour NiMH battery. This allowed for an increased range. These newer EV1s were able to go from 100 to 140 miles. GM ceased the production of the EV1 in 1999; however, they did not decide to take them off the road until three years later in 2002.
The Rarity of the EV1
Many car collectors count themselves lucky for having simply come into contact with an EV1. Those who are one of the few who own one are sitting on a goldmine. Just over 1,100 are believed to have been produced. This, in addition to the fact that the majority were destroyed, make it one of the most rare vehicles ever produced.
Reason for the Destruction of the EV1
Although there is speculation around GM’s decision to cancel the production of the EV1, most believe that it is due to the fact that it was simply too expensive to produce and the potential for profit was slim. Therefore, they decided to repossess and destruct them instead of allowing those who were leasing them to buy out the remainder of their lease. About sixty were provided to museums, either through donation or sales. However, some believe that many more are out there, hidden.