Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Electric Cars - California experience

Battery technology:

Current lithium technology would make the EV1 a 250-300 mile range car.


Who killed the electic car?

Watch this fantastic DOCUMENTARY MOVIE !!
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Background info:

The EV1 was the first production quality battery electric vehicle produced
by General Motors in the United States and, at the time, was the only
electric vehicle in the history of the company to bear the "General
Motors" badge.

GM leased over 800 EV1 cars out of about 1100 manufactured[1] with the
provision that after the three-year leases were up, the cars reverted to
the company. They were available in California and Arizona and could be
serviced at designated Saturn dealers.

The purpose of the EV1 was, in part, to satisfy California's
Zero-emissions vehicle mandate initiated in 1990. The ZEV program
specified that by 1998, 2% of all new cars sold were to have no emissions.
GM stated that they spent over $1 billion developing and marketing the
EV1, though much of this cost was defrayed by the Clinton Administration's
$1.25 Billion Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV)[2]

In late 2003, GM cancelled the EV1 program.[5][6] Despite unfulfilled
waiting lists and positive feedback from the lessees, GM stated that it
could not sell enough of the cars to make the EV1 profitable.[7] GM also
cited a lack of demand.

The price for the car used to compute lease payments was $33,995 to
$43,995, which made for lease payments of $299 to over $574 per month. One
industry official said that each EV1 cost the company about $80,000,
including research and development costs.[8] The vehicle's lease prices
also depended on available state rebates. At that time, the cost for the
electricity used to power the car was computed to be 1/3 to 1/2 the cost
of the equivalent amount of gasoline[citation needed], and since that time
increases in gas prices have made electricity relatively even less


The EV1 was a 'purpose built' electric vehicle, not a conversion of an
existing vehicle or drivetrain. General Motors used many advanced
technologies including:
Aluminum frame
Dent resistant side-panels
Anti-lock brakes
Traction control
Heat pump (Heater/AC)
Keyless entry / keyless ignition
Special one-way thermal glass to allow for better insulation
Regenerative braking
Self-repairing tires
Very low drag coefficient - Cd~0.19, CdA~0.36 m² (3.95 ft²)
Super light alloy mag wheels
Low-rolling resistance tires

Most of these technologies were included to improve the overall efficiency
of the EV1.

The first generation EV1s used lead-acid batteries in 1996 (as model year
1997) and a second generation batch with nickel metal hydride batteries in
1999. Some of the Gen 1 EV1's were refurbished and upgraded to Panasonic
Lead Acid batteries.

The Gen 1 cars got 55 to 75 miles (90 to 120 km) per charge with the
Delco-manufactured lead-acid batteries, 75 to 100 miles (120 to 160 km)
with the Gen 2 Panasonic lead-acid batteries, and 75 to 150 miles (120 to
240 km) per charge with Gen 2 Ovonic nickel-metal hydride batteries.
Recharging took as much as eight hours for a full charge (although one
could get an 80% charge in two to three hours).[9] The battery pack
consisted of 26 12-volt lead-acid batteries holding 67.4 MJ (18.7 kWh) of
energy or 26 13.2-volt nickel-metal hydride batteries which held 95.1 MJ
(26.4 kWh) of energy.

A modified EV1 prototype set a land speed record for production electric
vehicles of 183 mph (295 km/h) in 1994.

Consumer Experience

The EV1 driving and ownership experience was unlike a conventional petrol
(gasoline) or diesel vehicle. The EV1 had the lowest wind resistance of
any production vehicle in history, with a Cd of 0.195, while typical
production cars have Cd's in the 0.3 to 0.4 range.[10] As a result, at
highway speeds, the only audible noise was often the steady thrum of the
tires, with nothing from wind or motors. At lower speeds, and at
stoplights, there was no noise at all, save for a slight whine from the
single-speed gear reduction unit. The EV1 could accelerate from 0-60mph in
the 8 second range. Top speed was limited to 80 MPH, though the EV1's
propulsion system and aerodynamic shape were theoretically capable of 190
MPH with modified gearing. Speed, range, and various other numbers were
displayed by digital readouts spanning a thin curved strip just under the
windshield and well above the dashboard.

The home charging installation was about 1.5'x2'x5' with integrated
heatsinks and resembled a gasoline pump. Charging itself was entirely
inductive, and accomplished by placing a plastic paddle in the front port
of the EV1.


In 2001, the California Air Resources Board modified the ZEV Mandate[11]
to allow manufacturers to claim partial ZEV credit for hybrid vehicles.
General Motors and DaimlerChrysler then sued the state of California and
CARB, alleging that the new ZEV rules violated a federal law barring
states from regulating fuel economy.[12] In response, CARB removed the
requirement for electric vehicles from the ZEV mandate in 2003, and GM
cancelled the EV1 program soon thereafter.[13]

The last private lease expired in August of 2004. Upon lease expiration,
the cars were put into storage at a facility in Burbank, California. GM
donated a small fraction of the total of EV1s to colleges and universities
for engineering students, and to several museums, including the
Smithsonian Institution. By March 15, 2005 the last 78 in storage had been
transferred to the GM Desert Proving Grounds in Mesa, Arizona for
disposal, crushing, and recycling.

Over a hundred people offered to purchase the electric cars and waive such
liability as they were able, but GM refused. GM more recently stated that
they would be subject to product liability and that the policies would
require them to provide service and replacement parts for ten years.[14]

GM stated that the electric car venture was not a failure, and that the
EV1 was doomed when the expected breakthrough in battery technology did
not take place.[15] There were additional practical reasons for the EV1's
cancellation. The NiMH battery packs that improved range came with their
own set of problems; GM had to use a less-efficient charging algorithm and
waste power on air conditioning to prevent them from overheating.[16]

PICTURE -- EV1s crushed by General Motors


Many consumers and government officials questioned General Motors'
commitment to the EV1 program. Inadequate marketing and artificially
constrained supply have led some to believe the EV1 program was intended
to fail, and to prove that electric vehicles were not feasible. Also of
concern was GM's insistence on repossessing and destroying all EV1s,
rather than selling them at the termination of the program, and GM's ties
with the oil industry. GM insiders later provided documentation of long
waiting lists that went unfulfilled.

The process of obtaining an EV1 was difficult. The vehicle could not be
purchased outright. Instead, General Motors offered a closed-end lease for
three years, with no renewal or residual purchase options. The EV1 was
only available from specialist Saturn dealerships, and only in California
and Arizona.

Before reviewing leasing options, a potential lessee would be taken
through a 'pre-qualification' process in order to learn how the EV1 was
different from other vehicles. Next came a waiting list with no scheduled
delivery date. After two to six months, the lessee would be allotted a
vehicle. Installation of a home charger took one to two weeks.[17]

A documentary about the demise of the EV1 and other electric vehicles
entitled Who Killed the Electric Car? debuted on June 30, 2006. Several
weeks before the debut of the movie, the Smithsonian Institution announced
that its EV1 display was being permanently removed and the EV1 car put
into storage. Although GM is a major financial contributor to the museum,
both parties denied that this fact contributed to the removal of the
display.[18][19] According to the museum, the removal of the EV1 from
display was a necessary aspect of its renovation.[20] The space where the
EV1 stood has been filled by Stanley, an unmanned Volkswagen Touareg

According to the interview with Rick Wagoner in the June 2006 issue of
Motor Trend magazine, the worst decision of his tenure was "axing the EV1
electric-car program and not putting the right resources into hybrids. It
didn’t affect profitability, but it did affect image."[22][23]


Who Killed the Electric Car? Nov 10, 2006

In 1987, a solar powered electric car resembling a shiny cockroach sped
along the desert highway that connects Darwin to Adelaide.

The car, nicknamed Sunraycer, was a phenomenon.

Built by American motoring giant General Motors (GM), Sunraycer averaged a
speed of 67kph as it blitzed its rivals to win the inaugural Darwin to
Adelaide World Solar Challenge race.

Sunraycer completed the 3,021km trek two days quicker than the
second-placed car and was heralded as the future of the automobile.

A year later, GM chief executive Roger Smith agreed to fund an electric
car prototype for the American general public and, in January 1990, the
company unveiled the car at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The development of the vehicle continued and in 1996 GM's electric car,
named the EV1, was offered to the public in California, leasing for
$US400-$US500 ($A500-$A630 at the time) a month.

But the EV1 had a short life.

In 2003, in an announcement that outraged EV1 owners, GM said it would not
renew the EV1 leases and would reclaim the vehicles by
the end of 2004.

Just like dinosaurs, the EV1 was soon extinct, with many of the cars,
still in working order, trucked to Arizona and crushed into scrap metal.

The EV1's short history is detailed in the new documentary, Who Killed the
Electric Car?

"This is a story that no one told," the documentary's producer, Dean
Devlin, who owned an EV1, said.

"The only reason why we made this documentary is because nobody else put
the story together.

"We were waiting for a book to come out or an expose to come out on
television or a big-time magazine piece.

"There was nothing that put all of the pieces together."

The documentary examines the role of oil companies, car manufacturers, the
US government and other government bodies in the
creation and then destruction of the EV1s.

The major driving force in turning the Sunraycer into an EV1 available to
the public came in 1990 when the California Air Resources Board (CARB)
adopted a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate.

At the time California was choking on pollution, with the Los Angeles
basin suffering 41 dangerous stage-one smog alerts in 1990.

The mandate required car-makers to produce ZEVs, with each company's
market share in California to include two per cent ZEVs in 1998, five per
cent in 2001 and 10 per cent in 2003.

"What California did in 1990 was a great thing," the film's director,
Chris Paine, said.

The ZEV mandate, however, was short-lived. In 1996 the mandate was
weakened and in 2002 GM, DaimlerChrysler and seven auto dealerships, with
the support of the US Justice Department, sued CARB.

In April 2003, CARB, again under pressure, weakened the ZEV mandate
further so car-makers no longer had to make electric cars.

Soon after, GM announced it would not renew the EV1 leases to the public
and would reclaim the cars by the end of 2004.

California drivers, who were not given the option of buying the cars, had
to hand the EV1s back to GM and many of the vehicles were taken away and
crushed, despite being in working order.

Devlin said if CARB had stuck to its mandate there would be one million
electric cars in California today.

"California should re-instate the mandate as it was written then and every
state in the US should adopt that same mandate," Devlin said.

"If we have zero emission in every state, there would be so many zero
emission cars on the road today it would have an impact on global warming
and our dependence on foreign oil."

The film argues car-makers were not supportive of electric cars because
the vehicles did not need expensive servicing, a significant source of
income for the vehicle makers.

A typical maintenance check-up for the EV1, because it did not have a
conventional engine, involved replenishing the windshield washer fluid and
rotating tyres.

"I have always lived by the philosophy when it comes to conspiracies,
never attribute deviousness to that which can be explained by
incompetence," Devlin said.

"I think the story of the electric car is the combination of incompetence
and deviousness and it comes from many directions.

"That's why we decided to tell the story.

"It wasn't as easy as saying, 'Well the oil companies killed it'.

"Sure, they were a big part of it, but there were a lot of hands involved
in this murder."

Who Killed the Electric Car? is playing in Australian cinemas


The Burbank Vigil

Tragically, on March 15, day number 28 of our round-the-clock vigil at the
GM Training Center in Burbank, a total of eight transporters came and
hauled all remaining EV1 cars off towards the GM Provining Grounds, for
their destruction in the Arizona desert. See Media Coverage and March 15,
2005 press release for more. Additional photos are in the March 15 album.

March 15, 2005 - 8 car transports loading more than 50 EV1s

On Monday, 2 people were arrested for blocking the exit from GM's Burbank
site, as three auto transport trucks attempted to leave with at least 15
EV1 cars. The 3 trucks were later allowed to leave after Burbank Police
peacefully arrested Alexandra Paul and Colette Divine, who sent a powerful
message of the importance of this clean air technology to the lives of
people everywhere.

General Motors continues to decline offers by customers of $1.9 million to
buy the cars and waive all future responsibility for continuing service or
parts. See Media Coverage for recent reports and our see our March 14,
2005 press release.

Background when the vigil began on February 16, 2005

In 1996 GM introduced the EV1, the first modern all-electric automobile.
Spurred-on by worsening air quality in the Los Angeles area, California
regulators created the Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate, which required that
major auto manufacturers offer zero emissions automobile for a small
portion of their overall fleet. GM built a small number of vehicles to
meet their initial obligations under the ZEV Mandate, however has focused
much more energy on lobbying and legislation to undermine the regulation.

Just over 1100 EV1s were built by GM in two runs of production during 1997
and 1999. About 800 of these were leased to fleets and individuals in
California and Arizona who were willing to wait months of sometimes years
to take delivery of a vehicle. At the end of the 3 year leases, GM removed
the vehicles from the road, over the pleas of many drivers, who offered to
continue the lease or buy the vehicles. Most of these working zero
emission vehicles, funded by up to $13,000 in direct state and federal
subsidies, were unceremoniously crushed. A few have made it to New York
and Massachusetts where, under the guise of test program, they are double
dipping – receiving credit against both California and New York ZEV
mandate programs.

78 EV1s remain on a lot in Burbank, awaiting transport to GMs test grounds
in Mesa, Arizona, where they too will be crushed. These vehicles are all
in working order, and in fact are regularly charged and moved around the
GM parking lot. A group of dedicated individuals, supported by
environmental and clean-air advocacy groups has established a 24 hour
vigil outside the GM facility, asking GM to put these remaining vehicles
back where they belong, in the hands of drivers. Please join us in asking
GM to do the right thing. We’ll all breath easier with these zero emission
vehicle back on the road.


Media release: Thursday, September 1, 2005 Announces Toyota Victory, Launches Plug In America™

Former CIA Director joins auto engineers and advocates to encourage
automakers to produce petroleum-free, pollution-free cars

Los Angeles – In an international telephone press conference today, lauded Toyota’s recent decision to keep its zero-emission,
battery-electric RAV 4 SUVs on the road. Joined by a former CIA-director,
an ex-GM employee, an EV engineer, and the Southern California Edison
Electric Transportation director, is declaring a victory in
its efforts to save America’s last remaining petroleum-free,
pollution-free vehicles.’s success in saving Toyota’s RAV4 EV, the Ford Th!nk City EV
and Ford Ranger EV from the crusher while bringing national attention to
General Motors’ decision to destroy its popular EV1s, have inspired the
group to help America move towards an oil-independent future with Plug In
America™, a new advocacy organization launched today. The organization
will work with industry, environmental and national security
organizations, and concerned citizens to revive plug-in auto production
and give Americans the freedom to choose cars, trucks, and SUVs that are
powered by cleaner, cheaper, domestic sources of energy.

Following a three-month campaign, Toyota agreed to stop crushing its RAV4
EV, and allow satisfied customers to lease or buy their zero-emission
SUVs. Electric vehicle advocates, long dismissed as “fanatics” or
“hobbyists” by automakers, are in fact speaking for the majority of
Americans concerned about national security, public health, rising gas
prices, and global warming. A recent Reuters survey found that most
Americans believe it is patriotic to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle to help
reduce American dependency on foreign oil. Nearly no oil is used for
making electricity in the U.S; over 70% of our oil is consumed for
transportation. Plug in America wants the government and automakers to
prioritize building and marketing plug-in vehicles now.

Plug In America

Pulling away from the pump and plugging into our nation’s extensive
electric infrastructure would mean that Americans could immediately make
the switch to cheaper, cleaner, domestic energy sources to power cars,
trucks and SUVs. The cost of plugging in to the grid and charging up at
home is the equivalent of pennies per gallon on the average electric bill
as compared to $3.00-plus a gallon at the pump today. The widespread use
of renewable energy like solar and wind power is on the rise across
America and offers drivers the opportunity to plug-in to fossil-fuel free
energy. With a plug-in hybrid, which uses a battery-powered electric motor
for the first 30 to 50 miles, most American commuters would rarely if ever
need to fill up or even top off with gasoline unless making a long trip.
Since 50 percent of Americans do not drive more than 20 miles per day, the
electric range of a plug-in hybrid would power nearly all of our daily

A Brief History of EVs and The People Who Tried to Destroy Them started in 2004 in response to auto companies’ ongoing
destruction of their electric cars after successfully eviscerating
California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate. Despite enormous popularity
including waiting lists to lease the all-electric, zero-emission vehicles,
the auto industry spent millions lobbying Sacramento and suing in federal
court to take the cars off the road and replace them with gasoline cars as
the only readily available option. Successful grassroots interventions
including demonstrations at dealerships, car-sit vigils, and public
education rallies helped save from the crusher hundreds of Ford and Toyota
electric cars.’s efforts have received public support from the American
Lung Association,, California Assembly Member Fran Pavley,
California Assembly Member Mark Leno, California Environmental Protection
Agency Secretary Alan Lloyd, California State Senator Sheila Kuehl,
Electric Auto Association, Environment Now, Global Exchange, Greenpeace,
Jumpstart Ford Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Orange County
Interfaith Coalition for the Environment, Rainforest Action Network, Set
America Free, Sierra Club, City of Santa Monica, South Coast Air Quality
Management District and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Supporting Statements

James Woolsey, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and
member of Plug In America coalition and Set America Free, is a well-known
advocate of plug-in hybrid technology. “We must encourage the
commercialization of technologies that are compatible with existing
infrastructure. What makes plug-in hybrids promising is that they are; we
don’t need a Manhattan Project to make this happen.”

"Southern California Edison is proud to operate one of the nation's
largest and most successful EV fleets, “says Ed Kjaer, Director of
Electric Transportation Department of Southern California Edison. “Since
its inception, SCE's EV fleet has traveled almost 12 million trouble-free
miles delivering significant petroleum, emissions and green house gas
reductions as well as lower maintenance and operating costs. Thanks to the
continuing support of Toyota and as a testament to the quality, durability
and reliability of their world class EV, SCE is committed to maintaining
its almost 180 Toyota RAV4 EVs indefinitely."

“The waiting lists and public campaigns for plug-in vehicles only proves
that the demand for these cars has always gone unfulfilled by the
automakers,” says Chelsea Sexton, Plug In America organizer and former GM
EV1 specialist. “There was compelling demand a decade ago when large EV
programs started and were killed. That demand has only increased
exponentially as the nation has come to realize the devastating
consequences of depending on foreign oil.”

“Four years and over 30,000 miles driving electric cars has proven to me
that the best way for us individually and as a nation to use less oil is
to have the choice to use none,” says Marc Geller, Plug In America
organizer. “Automakers need to offer plug- in electric alternatives,
because electricity from the American grid, or in my case my solar PV
panels, is cleaner, cheaper and domestic. We shouldn't have to pay off oil
companies or undemocratic regimes just to get to work. Disruptions in oil
supply – in Iraq, in Louisiana - compel us to move quickly. We need
choices. Now. Unlike the ever-more distant panacea of hydrogen fuel cells,
plug in technology works today, and the infrastructure is ubiquitous. The
automakers have already proven they can make great plug in cars. I drive
one past gas stations every day.”

“Before I leased my RAV4 EV, I never knew how much I’d love it. After I
had it, I had no idea how hard I’d have to fight to keep it,” explains
Linda Nichols, Toyota RAV4 EV owner. “Toyota’s turnaround is a courageous
decision to respond to consumer demand and revise a policy created years
ago for the benefit of their customers as well as the environment.”

Press Conference:

James Woolsey, former CIA director and member of Set America Free
Ed Kjaer, director, Electric Transportation Department, Southern
California Edison
Chelsea Sexton, alternative fuel vehicle consultant, former General Motors
EV1 specialist
Paul Scott, founding member of and Plug In America
Wally Rippel, lead engineer, General Motors EV1
Linda Nicholes, owner, Toyota RAV4 EV
Dave Raboy, owner, Ford Ranger EV
Marc Geller, former lessee, Ford TH!NK City EV and current owner, Toyota



Hydrogen Fuel Cells are

- dangerous (only big companies are safe)
- high-tech (only big companies are cheap)
- depend on a huge infrastructure (only big companies....)

Battery Cars are:

- safe (even Third World countries could make them)
- low tech (even Third World countries ...)
- adapt to any infrastructure (even Third World countries ...)


GM Responds to the film "Who Killed the Electric Car"

Who Ignored the Facts About the Electric Car?

By Dave Barthmuss GM Communications

The film EV Confidential: Who Killed the Electric Car? showcased the
intense passion for GM's out-of-production EV1 electric vehicle. I
understand why. It was great technology for its day, a great concept and a
great car. GM was and is proud to have brought the electric vehicle
concept as far as it did and further than any other electric vehicle
project attempted by any other automaker around the globe. Sadly, despite
the substantial investment of money and the enthusiastic fervor of a
relatively small number of EV1 drivers - including the filmmaker - the EV1
proved far from a viable commercial success.

But the story for GM does not end with the final credits on the movie.
I've been the person who has spent the last few years answering the
questions of why GM discontinued the program. Although I have not seen the
movie or received an advanced DVD as others have from the film's
producers, I can tell you that based on what I have heard there may be
some information that the movie did not tell its viewers. The good news
for electric car enthusiasts is that although the EV1 program did not
continue, both the technology and the GM engineers who developed it did.
In fact, the technology is very much alive, has been improved and carried
forward into the next generation of low-emission and zero-emission
vehicles that are either on the road, in development or just coming off
the production line. For example:
GM's two-mode hybrid system designed for transit busses have been placed
in more than 35 cities across the U.S. and Canada. Perhaps many have seen
these cleaner-burning diesel-electric mass transit vehicles. The buses use
technology developed for the EV1, such as the regenerative braking system.
The Saturn Vue Green Line, which will hit showrooms later this summer,
incorporates a new, more affordable gas-electric technology. The Saturn
Vue Green Line will be priced at less than $23,000 and offer the highest
highway fuel economy at 32 mpg of any SUV, hybrid or otherwise.
GM is co-developing with DaimlerChrysler and BMW Group a new two-mode
hybrid system for passenger vehicles. This new two-mode hybrid technology
will debut next year in a Chevrolet Tahoe full-size SUV, which will offer
a 25 percent improvement in combined city and highway fuel economy when
joined with other GM fuel-saving technologies. Technology born in the EV1
is incorporated into this new two-mode hybrid system.
GM's fourth-generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, which enhances the
technology found in today's HydroGen3 fuel cell vehicle, (currently in
demonstration fleets around the world), will be introduced later this year
and will represent a leap forward toward a production ready version of a
hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. For the longer term, GM sees hydrogen and fuel
cells as the best combination of energy carrier and power source to
achieve truly sustainable transportation. A fuel cell energized by
hydrogen emits just pure water, produces no greenhouse gasses, and is
twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine. Although hydrogen
fuel cell technology was cast as a pie-in-the-sky technology by the
moviemakers, GM is making great progress in fuel cell research and
development and is on track to achieving its goal to validate and design a
fuel cell propulsion system by 2010 that is competitive with current
combustion systems on durability and performance, and that ultimately can
be built at scale, affordably.

Add to all this GM's leadership in flex-fuel vehicles that run on
clean-burning bio fuels such as corn-based ethanol and our new "active
fuel management" system that shuts down half the engine's pistons at
highway speeds to improve fuel economy, and we feel we are doing more than
any other automaker to address the issues of oil dependence, fuel economy,
and emissions from vehicles. And we are committed to do more.

Lastly, because the movie made some harsh criticisms of GM for
discontinuing the EV1, let me set the record straight:
GM spent more than $1 billion developing the EV1 including significant
sums on marketing and incentives to develop a mass market for it.
Only 800 vehicles were leased during a four-year period.
No other major automotive manufacturer is producing a pure electric
vehicle for use on public roads and highways.
A waiting list of 5,000 only generated 50 people willing to follow through
to a lease.
Because of low demand for the EV1, parts suppliers quit making replacement
parts making future repair and safety of the vehicles difficult to nearly

Could GM have handled its decision to say "no" to offers to buy EV1s upon
natural lease expirations better than it did? Sure. In some ways, I
personally regret that we could not find a way for the EV1 lessees to keep
their cars. We did what we felt was right in discontinuing a vehicle that
we could no longer guarantee could be operated safely over the long term
or that we would be able to repair.

In turn, GM engineers used EV1s for cold-weather testing to continue the
technology transfer to hybrids and fuel cells. We also donated them to
universities and museums. In fact, we donated an EV1 to the Smithsonian
and are now being wrongly accused of a conspiracy with the museum because
they removed the car for renovation of the National Museum of American
History. I can assure you that this is nothing more than unfortunate

So as right and as good as our intentions were, we understand that the
moviemakers see them as wrong. We'll accept that criticism, but don't
punish GM for doing a good deed. Rather, work with us and give us credit
for taking a necessary first step in developing technologies that hold the
potential to change the face of automobile transportation. That's what GM
engineers are doing everyday.

Posted by Editor at June 23, 2006 10:41 AM


Since then he doubtlessly has seen the film... and THERE IS NO MORE

You should see this film, too.

Install the fabulous Opera Browser
and click on this link:

burn onto a CD and pass it around.

Who Killed the Electric Car? is a 2006 documentary film that explores the
birth, limited commercialization, and subsequent death of the battery
electric vehicle in the United States, specifically the General Motors EV1
of the 1990s. The film explores the roles of automobile makers, the oil
industry, the US government, batteries, hydrogen vehicles, and consumers
in limiting the development and adoption of this technology.


Exclusive Q&A with Chelsea Sexton about the EV1, why the Prius gets a 'C',
and who really killed the electric car

Posted Jun 22nd 2006 12:03PM by Sebastian Blanco

Filed under: Emerging Technologies, Etc., EV/Plug-in, GM, Toyota,
AutoblogGreen Q & A

You don't have to spend much time talking with Chelsea Sexton to realize
she is passionate about electric vehicles. Sexton has been part of the EV
debate that started in the 1990s with the debut of General Motor's first
mass-production all-electric vehicle, the EV1. Sexton worked for GM,
leasing the EV1 to customers and working on marketing strategies, until
late 2001, when she was laid off and GM stopped the EV1 program. The EV1's
story is told in the new film "Who Killed The Electric Car?", which
features Sexton and others talking about the strange fate of the cars that
were once hyped by Hollywood stars, then found a fanatic consumer base,
and are now out rusting in the desert. Sexton found time for an exclusive
Q&A with AutoblogGreen.

ABG: Do you think "Who Killed The Electric Car?" accurately portrays the
EV1 story?

Sexton: I do, actually. I've been really proud of Chris [Paine, director]
and Dean [Devlin, executive producer]. That is part of what has enabled
all of us to have a good level of trust going into it because it is their
story, too. The director and the executive producer were both drivers of
these cars [EV1s]. We knew they'd do right by the story. I've been really
impressed with how well Chris told that complex story in a precise and
compelling way.

ABG: How did you get involved in the film?

Sexton: (laughs) I leased them their cars. I've known Chris for about nine
years and I actually leased Dean his car but also his father Don Devlin
was one of my very first drivers, the guy to whom the film is dedicated.
In some ways, Don is responsible for our ability to tell the story with
such accuracy because he was, from the very beginning, saying the auto
companies do not want to do this and he made us pay attention all along.
It was very rewarding to get to tell the story for Don in the end.

ABG: There is a scene in the film where you go see an EV1 in an
underground parking garage, I think in a car museum. Is this the last EV1
in existence?

Sexton: No. There are about 40 that GM gutted and donated to museums and
universities, basically in an effort to get some brownie points in the
end, I guess. The Peterson [Automotive Museum] got one of them. Another
one that is kind of making a lot of waves right now is the one in the
Smithsonian because they got the only intact car, but they just removed it
from display. The Washington Post wrote a big article on it a few days
ago. The other interesting component is the wing that the EV1 sits in was
paid for by General Motors. GM donated $10 million to the museum and now,
on the eve of the film coming out, they remove the car. There's no
conspiracy theory involved, but it certainly is a big coincidence.

ABG: The films shows there was quite an activist movement to save the EV1,
and you were part of this group. How should activists approach such
battles in the future?

Sexton: I think, more and more, it's imperative that consumers ask for
what they want and not settle for the status quo. Part of that comes from
having worked within the industry and I know how it works. The typical
industry model for automotive is, "We're gonna build something and
convince the customer that they want it" not, "Let's ask them what they
want and build it." This is one of those cases where this was absolutely
been proven. Just last year, as a good little example, Life and Times [Los
Angeles-area PBS show] did a story on auto enthusiasts and they went to
Hummer and to Prius and they came to us last at the vigil. While they're
setting up we were just chatting, and they said, "We just went to Toyota
and we asked them about all this grassroots demand for plug-in hybrids and
the Prius seems like the obvious first car to start with and people are
making them in their garages. Why don't you build a plug-in Prius?" and
they said, "Because we don't have to. So many people are buying the
gas-burning version we don't need to build anything else." That's sort of
the perfect distillation. As long as we buy what they're making, they
won't make anything else. It is necessary that consumers get involved,
whether that's protesting or grassroots pressure or simply voting, not
just politically but with your wallet and not buying something that isn't
truly what you want. We have to get involved if we're going to end up
seeing in the showrooms the cars that we really want to drive. Because
that's what it's about in the end. It's not about, Oh my gosh, this one
little car. It's about the choice that consumers have been denied. I'd
never tell a Hummer driver that, "You can't have the choice to drive a
Hummer." Choice is one of the cornerstones that we hold up as an American
value. Similarly, we want the same choice, to drive something cleaner,
especially something that has been proven to be viable in the market.

ABG: And people were interested in driving the EV1. Was this because it
was a zero-emission vehicle?

Sexton: People buy cars for different reasons, many of them emotional. A
lot of reasons people buy products in general are not necessarily the most
logical on paper arguments. But there is absolutely a segment of folks who
want a car that is clean or a car that is smooth and quiet, or a car that
doesn't pollute or a car that doesn't rely on the Middle East. I mean, if
you as Jim Woolsey [former head of the CIA, currently a partner in Booz
Allen and works with Set America Free and Plug-In America, where Sexton is
director] why he wants one of these cars, it has nothing to do with the
environment. He's an environmentalist, but that's not his primary
motivation. It's all about domestic energy. There are more and more, as
time goes on, all kinds of varying reasons why people like these cars,
which is what makes it such a common ground, technologically.

ABG: The movie ends by showing the plug-in hybrid as the next best car.
What do you think the future of electric cars will be in America?

Sexton: I think for pure electrics, the next stage is going to come out of
the smaller companies, the Teslas of the world. That car is wicked fun to
drive; it's a very cool little car. In terms of the major automakers, I
see them first going to plug-in hybrids, partially because there is a very
broad market for it and partially simply because it's not a purely
electric car and there is such an emotional fight right now. The more we
want them the more they're not going to make them and it's almost come
down to that particular fight over principle. So they are more likely to
make plug-in hybrids, and that's fine. In our experience, the best way to
get people to use less oil is to give them the option to use none, even if
that's just for twenty or forty miles a day. That still gets most people
through their daily commute and when you need to go further you have that
back-up tank that you can put gasoline in, and eventually we'll be putting
ethanol in or biodiesel or something else. I'm fine with the plug-in
hybrid. I don't see it some sort of compromise in a bad way.

ABG: What kind of car do you drive?

Sexton: I drive a Saturn. I've had about eight of them. I won't buy a
hybrid, so I drive a good little economical gas car, as little as possible
and I won't buy another car until I can buy one with a plug on it. Mostly,
it's just what working in the industry and watching what we were showing
and then watching the sort of diluted products that we came out with. I
use the analogy of accepting Cs from your kids when you know they can get
As. In the case of the Prius, paying thirty grand for that C? I'll wait
until there's a plug-in hybrid available or an electric car.

ABG: Finally, who do you think killed the electric car?

Sexton: No single snowflake in an avalanche feels responsible. I certainly
think that some foes played a bigger role than others, but I don't think
that any one of those suspects could have done it alone. It's a matter of
a confluence of events and people, industries and companies acting in
their own best interests and people not asking enough questions. Also
there was a certain amount of complacency. I don't have just one suspect.
I know some folks do, but having been in the middle of it, I know it took
more than one.


It's interesting to see people continue to dodge the cultural issue, even
here in the posts (chad, lithous).

Supposedly, we Americans are capitalists, and regardless of the reasons
the EV1 was built, the fact remains that GM refused to allow people who
wanted to buy their product to buy it, at any cost.

GM was offered total legal and fiscal absolution for any consequences of
putting the existing cars into private hands, and yet they refused to do
so - turning down PROFIT while making up specious claims of LOSS.

I don't know why they did it, but that's the issue here for anyone who
believes in the virtue of a fair marketplace. It doesn't matter whether
you like electric cars or not, what matters is that a supposedly
for-profit corporation did something that sure looks like racketeering to
me... GM screwing their own stockholders for the benefit of oil producers.


Most people drive less that 30 miles a day. I drive about 55. The EV1
would easily fit my commute. 95% of the time I'm with my family we drive
my wife's Volvo V50 (small wagon). Instead of $40 a week in fuel I'd spend
about $7 in electricity. Considering a savings of $132/month and $50 less
for the car lease than my current lease that would add up to $182/month it
would put in my pocket. It would prove inconvenient about 2% of the time
(have to swap cars with my wife for the day if I was going more than 100


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Anonymous Mercedes Parts Blog said...

The National Museum of American History is why a rare surviving example of that car -- a silvery-blue 1997 EV1 sedan -- would be removed from display yesterday just as interest in the innovative vehicle seems bound to grow. General Motors used many advanced technologies in developing the Electric cars namely Aluminum frame, Dent resistant side-panels, Anti-lock brakes, Traction control and GM heat cores pump (Heater/AC).

Friday, March 9, 2007 at 6:10:00 PM PST  

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