Arguably the best EV ever put it on the market, GM made it available only for lease at Saturn Dealers in California, Arizona and parts of Georgia. It is no longer manufactured. GM was known to avoid showing it off where they knew it would generate interest. Their motive, as best I can tell, was primarily to avoid having to retool the entire industry to make EV's, to avoid progress and change, and to avoid becoming more like just coach makers rather than full vehicle makers. Also, since EV's have so few moving parts (no pistons, no engines, less brake usage, etc.), the entire vehicle repair industry would have been much less busy and would have changed dramatically.
Their primary argument was that it cost too much, even though many felt that reducing costs in the auto business is often largely a result of mass-manufacturing of parts and vehicles, and that the GM EV1 would have realized significant reduction in costs had this been done. GM has never been known to avoid publishing projections of anticipated realizable economies of scale with other introduction vehicles.
They claim they are not capable of reinstituting manufacturing or updating the car for crashworthiness. GM is fighting every possibility of making more electric cars, such as in their recent lawsuit against CARB. A few hundred refurbished EV1's are coming on the market Q1, 2001, with the good Panasonic Lead-Acid-Batteries (rather than the cruddy Delphi faulty batteries).
The Spring 2000 sale of GM's stake in Ovonic Battery basically to Texaco was hard to judge. At first we Ovonic fans thought, well maybe since GM no longer can hold Ovonic back from mass-manufacturing of long-range batteries, then the planet can finally have great EV's. But now it looks possible that Texaco's fuel-cell interest (Ovonic does both batteries and important fuel cell componentry) might partly be a cover to continue the repression of the best EV batteries ever made. The auto manufacturers seem ok with fuel cell hybrids, but not pure EV's. Is Texaco deliberately keeping Ovonic from getting into a situation where they are mass-supplying the auto EV market? Based on GM's decades of anti-ev lying nonsense, I cannot believe they'd sell off Ovonic unless there was a plan in place to continue to keep pure-EV's down. ...out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Book Recommendation: Taken For A Ride: Detroit's Big Three And The Politics Of Air Pollution, by Jack Doyle
"If there are cars available then why is there a [wait] list?" GM EV1 Owner, June 28, 2000
GM's EV1 is a good electric car according to those who have leased it. Range with the NiMH batteries is 130 miles or more. Range with the special Panasonic Lead-Acid batteries is 110 miles or more, once proper driving habits are learned, and the batteries are less susceptible to the heat that can impair performance of the NiMH batteries.
GM is refusing to make more. GM refuses to sell them outright, allowing only for leasing. GM is refusing to distribute the EV1 outside of California, Arizona and a few in Georgia. So, for example, folks in the Midwest who experienced weeks of gasoline prices in excess of $2.00 per gallon, do not have any chance of leasing an EV1.
Reports have been that those going to Saturn Dealerships attempting to lease them are asked to "qualify" in ways that no other vehicle requires, and are generally asked to jump through several hoops. There have been no particular reports of buyers of other vehicles being asked to go through this process. For those not dissuaded by Saturn's EV1 qualifying process, reports have been that GM refuses immediate delivery, making them go through months of wait-listing.
Meanwhile, GM brags about the few high-profile personalities who have leased the vehicle, and laments to the California Air Resources Board that the vehicle has not been in demand, even as they continue to wait-list those who want it. Several have given up hope of leasing one, and have moved on to other vehicles.
Here is GM's EV1 website.
Several years ago, GM bought 60% of a joint venture called Ovonics to manufacture the best vehicular long-range batteries on the planet. But GM dragged its feet and only leased EV1s with the special batteries starting in December of 1999, at least two years later than they'd originally promised.
02/02/02: update: GM sold its stake in this battery venture and now Chevron-Texaco has it, in partnership with the original maker and partner, Energy Conversion Device's Ovonics Division (I'm not sure what the exact percentage owernship is, or what the politics are). Chevron-Texaco, like many of the Big Oil Companies, has been making "We want Green Credentials" noises, and they have announced finally building some sort of larger plant to make these critical-to-long-range-EV batteries. But the batteries, as of this writing still cost dozens of thousands of dollars per pack per car, and so somehow Chevron Texaco hasn't yet managed to get the economies of mass-production into place. It is possible though that they're not completely insincere, so we'll see.Back to 02/22/01: ....Now Ovonics has possibly lost some of its early lead. Toyota and Honda get their NiMH batteries from Matsushita, which may pay some royalties to Ovonics, but doesn't use their most recent technology. Chrysler gets its NiMH batteries from the French battery maker SAFT. It is good news that progress has continued around the globe but it is sad to see the best American effort whittled away. Chrysler has been acquired by a European manufacturer, and GM is no longer the largest most important most powerful car company around. Someday they may look back and realize that Americans lost jobs, business and prestige partly because of their assinine anti-innovative foot-dragging.
Here are comments by EV1 owners and other followers of the GM EV1 situation. Www.ev1.org has some further info from another owner. Here is an excellent article discussing the massive Oil and Automotive Lobby in California, and their campaign against electric cars.