Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Smithsonian Removes EV1 Exhibit 420

Posted by Zonk
from the wave-good-bye dept.
johnMG writes to mention a Seattle PI article on the Smithsonian's move to remove the EV1 electric sedan from display. From the article: "The upcoming film 'Who Killed the Electric Car?' questions why General Motors created the battery-powered vehicles and then crushed the program a few years later. The film opens June 30th. GM happens to be one of the Smithsonian's biggest contributors. But museum and GM officials say that had nothing to do with the removal of the EV1 from display."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Smithsonian Removes EV1 Exhibit

Comments Filter:
  • by ciroknight (601098) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:27PM (#15552749)
    Apparently not, Slashdot.

    The funny part is, they're removing an Electric Car display to make room for an SUV display.
  • Riiiiiight (Score:5, Funny)

    by vanyel (28049) * on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:31PM (#15552764) Journal
    But museum and GM officials say that had nothing to do with the removal of the EV1 from display."

    ...and I've got a 1 kwh/kg battery good for 5000 charge cycles to sell you too...

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:34PM (#15552772)
    Lots of things that people like are canned all the time because no-one buys them - and personally I'm not sure I would have wanted a world of all eletric cars when the time came to recycle the batteries...

    The time will come when all electric cars will be more practical, but in the meantime do we have to be so sensationalistic when something we like vanishes?

    Perhaps if there had been a cool movie about electric cars BEFORE they were cancelled we might still have them. If you really like something then now is the time to drum up support for it! Be an evangelist, not a mere consumer.
    • ...personally I'm not sure I would have wanted a world of all eletric cars when the time came to recycle the batteries...

      Since most electricity is still generated by burning fossil fuels, an all-electric car would most likely be worse than one burning the fuel directly. I have never heard of a perfectly efficient method of transmitting electricty from where it was produced to where it was needed (e.g. charge up the car). Ergo, there would be a net increase in "environmental badness" to use the e-car vs wh

      • The situation simply isn't clear cut either way. Centralizing power generation allows you to spend more on efficiency and pollution controls, maybe even do CO2 sequesterization. Can you more than recover the transmission loss? Who knows.

        The key issue is that the energy density and "recharge time" of gasoline make batteries look like toys. Batteries recycle pretty well, so that isn't that big of a deal.
      • by merreborn (853723) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:00PM (#15552898) Journal
        While it's true that a battery-only car is still fossil fuel powered in the end, a gas burning electric plant is FAR more efficient than a 3 liter V6, thanks to economies of scale, and all that jazz. An automotive engine is optimized primarily for fast acceleration and small size, whereas a gas generator in a plant is optimized for maximal power generation per gallon -- size and acceleration are totally useless.

        So, it's not actually clear without hard numbers wether or not driving an electric car 500 miles requires more fossil fuels than driving a gasoline car 500 miles.
        • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:02PM (#15553121) Homepage
          Actually, the *real* reason to go electric (or hydrogen) is that it lets you leverage alternative energy sources, meaning more flexibility. In addition, the centralization makes it easy to upgrade existing plants with new technology. Not so easy with millions of little ICEs.
          • Correct, at least as far as I can see. You store the energy generated by high-efficiency devices (running at optimum output) during non high-usage periods. It's called peak-shaving, I think.
          • There is no real reason to go electric of hydrogen. In order for that to help the environment at all, you need to have the alternative power infastructure in place. The only stuff that you're going to do efficiently without trashing the environment at this point is nuclear, and that's been pretty much regulated and protested out of existence.

            If anything, the best point at this point would be the possibility that your plant uses a domestically produced fuel, so we don't have to trash our economy any more h
        • by Baloo Ursidae (29355) <dead@address.com> on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:36PM (#15553230) Journal
          So, it's not actually clear without hard numbers wether or not driving an electric car 500 miles requires more fossil fuels than driving a gasoline car 500 miles.

          Sure you can, just not in terms of miles-per-gallon. You have to use the lowest common denominator: BTUs per mile.

          Your average 2-ton gasoline automobile uses about 6350 BTUs of energy per mile, and your average 240-ton electric light rail train uses about 1150 BTUs per mile. I would imagine a battery-electric vehicle probably does a bit better than a commuter train.

          Let's look at rail transport, which has already gone through this battle almost a century ago. Electric vehicles are more efficient. This was plainly obvious to the railroads very early on. Railroads switched to diesel-electric in the 1960s, which was really taking an old concept (there were a few 100% electrified railroads like Oregon Electric Railway and others by the 1930s, running off overhead wires like many light rail and the Amtrak Northeast Corridor and Florida Funnel lines do today) and making it portable (bringing the power plant along for the ride by installing a few generators on board).

          And if you want anecdotal evidence, next time you get stuck at a busy railroad crossing near a rail yard (thus trains speeding up as they leave), watch the locomotive exhaust. It's hardly noticable. Now when the gates go up, look for a dumptruck and watch how much soot it blows out. And the locomotive has four engines roughly the size of the dump truck's cab....

        • by phorm (591458) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @03:40AM (#15554005) Journal
          While it's true that a battery-only car is still fossil fuel powered in the end

          While your statement applies to much of the US, here in BC, Canada we use mostly Hydroelectric power... which isn't really consumed in use. And of course, many places use other power sources such as nuclear, tidepool generators, etc.
      • by quanticle (843097) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:02PM (#15552909) Homepage

        Since most electricity is still generated by burning fossil fuels, an all-electric car would most likely be worse than one burning the fuel directly. I have never heard of a perfectly efficient method of transmitting electricty from where it was produced to where it was needed (e.g. charge up the car). Ergo, there would be a net increase in "environmental badness" to use the e-car vs what we have now.

        Not necessarily. Your argument is only true if the electric power plant and the gasoline-powered car operate at the same efficiency. If the power plant is significantly more efficient than a gasoline engine, then it is quite possible for the electric car to be more environmentally friendly than the gasoline car, even with transmission losses.

        Your argument also ignores the fact that its generally easier to implement and upgrade pollution controls on a few dozen power plants versus several million automobiles.

        • "Your argument also ignores the fact that its generally easier to implement and upgrade pollution controls on a few dozen power plants versus several million automobiles."

          Aside from that and the efficiency argument it also ignores the fact that not all electricity is generated from fossil fuels. Where I live the electricity that would go into charging an electric car would be hydro generated, which does bring up other environmental issues but it isn't the same as burning fossil fuels.
      • I don't agree with this at all. A gas engine is what, 15% efficient? Well it has GOT to be easier to get a large power plant to be more efficient than that than thousands of little engines. It's also easier to reduce emissions and such because it's all in one place.

        And what's this fossil fuel nonsense? That's not a problem. It's called nuclear power. It's WAY cleaner than burning fossil fuels. Even many environmentalists who fought it 30 years ago have started to say they were wrong. Give everyone electric

        • I don't agree with this at all. A gas engine is what, 15% efficient? Well it has GOT to be easier to get a large power plant to be more efficient than that than thousands of little engines

          New combined cycle plants have a thermal efficiency of 59%. The 25 year old design of the nuclear power plant I work at is 35% thermally efficient or so. If I remember correctly, mitsubishi heavy industries makes a 100,000 hp diesel engine that ran at 100 rpm and was 50% efficient.

          The other factors you'd have to multiply i
      • Not that simple (Score:3, Informative)

        by Foerstner (931398)
        Since most electricity is still generated by burning fossil fuels, an all-electric car would most likely be worse than one burning the fuel directly. I have never heard of a perfectly efficient method of transmitting electricty from where it was produced to where it was needed (e.g. charge up the car). Ergo, there would be a net increase in "environmental badness" to use the e-car vs what we have now.

        In the real world, it doesn't always work this way. For one thing, burning fossil fuels in a powerplant is m
      • Since most electricity is still generated by burning fossil fuels, an all-electric car would most likely be worse than one burning the fuel directly.

        Sure, if you live in some armpit of the planet that still uses coal for power. At least in the northwest, the vast majority of our electric comes from hydropower, followed by steam plants and wind.

    • Lots of things that people like are canned all the time because no-one buys them...

      Except that GM never even tried to sell the EV1. Instead they offerred it for lease, with no option to buy at the end of the lease. When the leases did expire, many leasees balked at returning their cars, and begged GM to sell them. You'd think GM would have gone along, to avoid the expense of scrapping them.

      GM was obviously gaming the system somehow, though I've never understood exactly how.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:34PM (#15552776)
    "GM happens to be one of the Smithsonian's biggest contributors. But museum and GM officials say that had nothing to do with the removal of the EV1 from display."


    Also, the insistence on making electric vehicles look as unsexy and unstylish as possible was not a deliberate ploy intended to kill public interest in them. We all know that most people would just love the chance to be seen driving around in something which looks like a French milkvendors cart.

  • Who controls the British crown?
    Who keeps the metric system down?
    We do! We do!
    Who leaves Atlantis off the maps?
    Who keeps the martians under wraps?
    We do! We do!
    Who holds back the electric car?
    Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?
    We do! We do!
    Who robs the cave fish of their sight?
    Who rigs every Oscars night?
    We do! We do!
  • GM loves corn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Original Replica (908688) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:40PM (#15552802) Journal
    GM is pushing "flex-fuel" over hybrids. Ethanol over electric cars. For GM to have this first commercial electric car and then lose the hybrid market is embarassing. But at least they have the good sense to put SUV's in their place: in a museum.
    • About that Corn (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:27PM (#15553205) Journal
      The ethanol situation is not nearly as simple as "use corn".

      As it stands, the US Gov't pays farmers not to plant fields, subsidizes the farmland that is planted, and buys up excess product to keep prices up. This practice isn't limited to corn, most independant/corporate farmers recieve gov't handouts.

      Ontop of that, the Feds have tariffs to keep the domestic price of ethanol up, because ethanol production (like farming) is heavily subsidized and not exactly profitable.

      The entire market that is/would be involved in large-scale ethanol production is heavily skewed because of subsidies. The cheapest route would be to import ethanol from places where it is cheap.

      On a side note: Why do SUVs belong in museums?
      Like trucks and the TUV (Truck-UV), they fill an important niche.
      The SUV is just a vehicle, maybe your problem is with the people who drive them.
      • Re:About that Corn (Score:5, Insightful)

        by maxpublic (450413) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @11:52AM (#15554941) Homepage
        That's because using corn for ethanol production is a net energy loser. You invest more energy in producing the ethanol than you ever get out of it, especially after you factor in transportation costs to distribution centers (i.e., gas stations).

        Ethanol can only be efficiently produced from very high-energy crops like sugar beets - or even better, sugar cane. Unfortunately most of the land that's being used to grow corn doesn't do very well growing sugar beets, and can't be used to grow sugar cane at all. In fact, the places best suited for both of these crops are in central and south America. That is, places where there aren't any American farmers, nor any representatives in Congress.

        You ever wonder why corn syrup is used as a sugar substitute in so many things, like, for instance, cola drinks? Because Congress, in it's infinite wisdom, outright bans the import of sugar past a certain allowed tonnage each and every year. The sole reason for doing so is to support corn farmers, who'd otherwise lose the corn syrup business to sugar cane farmers in other countries (it takes far less sugar to make something taste sweet than it does corn syrup, and sugar tastes better than corn syrup). It makes no economic sense for the rest of the country, but there you have it - your tax dollars at work in a government protection racket.

        These same farmers push for corn-derived ethanol despite the fact that it can never be efficient, nor can it ever be economical for the rest of us - those of us who aren't corn farmers. Ethanol from corn is a bust, but don't expect the government to ever admit to that, or to admit that the only truly productive ethanol will come from places like central or south America, or Hawaii, or perhaps southern Florida. Too many Congresscritters would be out of a job if they ever admitted to that.

        Max
    • Re:GM loves corn (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ScrappyLaptop (733753) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @02:54AM (#15553916)
      "GM is pushing "flex-fuel" over hybrids."

      That's because there is this nasty little law that allows car makers to in effect grossly inflate the stated mpg of flex-fuel vehicles %20 over what they actually get. Many good selling vehicles (i.e., pickups) actually are flex-fuel, but the only way that you'd know it is from the VIN. You see, they don't actually *care* about you being able to burn flex-fuels; what they care about is artificially raising the fleet average fuel economy rating.

      Cheat number two:

      MTBE was added to gasoline as an "oxygenate" to make it burn cleaner. Only one company (arco?) was making it at the time and they lobbied heavily to make sure that the specs in the law pretty much spelled out that only MTBE would fit the bill, if you will excuse the pun. It gave them a six month lead on the market until other manufacturers could ramp up. Well, it turns out MTBE is really nasty stuff that gets into ground water, and causes the birth of three headed monkeys from otherwise normal canaries. And they had no idea. Oh, and Congress is working hard to make sure that you can't sue them. Anywhoo, now that it is acknowledged that MTBE is bad, new law has been constructed that pretty much guarantees that Ethanol will replace the previous 10% by volume oxygenate. Problem is, Ethanol gets something like 20% worse mileage than MTBU (Ethanol 76,000 btu/gallon, MTBE 93,500 btu/gallon, US gas 115,000 btu/gallon). Work out the math and you see that once again, the oil industry wins big time. Under the guise of "cleaner fuel, cleaner air, cleaner water", we are going to be filling up MORE often with MORE expensive gasoline that will create MORE pollution! Oh, and Ethanol might be worse for groundwater, as it is totally mixable in water and carries lots of other things from the gas with it. Can't smell it like you can MTBU, though, so you'll be drinking it for years before you realize it. Of course, the replacement of MTBU with Ethanol was enacted within a day or so of the Big Head Cheese giving a big "I understand the concerns of the simple folk" speech about how we are going to cut our reliance on foreign oil and clean the air and water by "doing things" with alternate energy. Same time that the alternate energy budget allocations were cut. Doublespeak at it's best...

  • by slashbob22 (918040) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:43PM (#15552820)
    Gas prices were high, so one of the Smithsonian workers drove it to the corner store. Unfortunately, they wrote the vehicle off on the way there.
  • Repressed technology (Score:4, Informative)

    by kevin98055 (983155) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:50PM (#15552850)

    Alternative fuels have always been repressed by the US government and big auto makers because of the global dependence on oil. Do you think it has taken us 50 years to get a car to go supposedly 40mpg?

    Back in the late 70's there was a little know company called AMECTRAN, that a the first production ready electronic vehicle that could go 80mph, had a range of 100+ miles, and costs less than $10,000. Electric cars suck? Yea right! Take a look at the inventor's website: [amectran.com]http://www.amectran.com/ [amectran.com] .

    • "..big auto makers because of the global dependence on oil"

      This makes no sense. The Automaker that makes an effeciant electronic car would not need the big oil companies.

      If big oil company(now known as Energy Companies) have the technology to have effecient vehicals, or vehicals that are not dependent on petroleum, would make a lot of money. 9 Billion dollars a year would be chump change.

      Fnally, I can't seem to find a link on that site that talkes about how itr works. Am I just missing it, or is thes magica
    • Why would the US government want to repress electric cars when the country imports oil?
      Why would auto makers want to promote oil dependence when they make no money from selling oil?
    • $10K? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ruff_ilb (769396)
      Where's that information coming from?

      From the site:

      "The interesting thing about the EXAR-1 was, that the pictures never did the car justice. When seen in person, the car was as beautiful as any foreigh exotic costing 7 or 8 times more; as well as the fact, that the EXAR-1 sported advances that even the most expensive automobiles in the world would not have for many years in the future."

      "Mr. Ramirez, actually built an electric automobile, making sure that details, such as matching ring and pinion gears to ti
    • by raehl (609729) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [113lhear]> on Saturday June 17, 2006 @01:54AM (#15553790) Homepage
      Do you think it has taken us 50 years to get a car to go supposedly 40mpg?

      The *SAME* car? No - the problem is that the American consumer will pay more for a car that is heavier (safer) and has more features/trunk space/acceleration/handling/etc than they will a car that has the weight, trunk space, acceleration and handling of a car from the 1950's that gets 80 MPG.

      We have gotten REMARKABLY more efficient with engines in the past 50 years. We just spend that efficiency on things OTHER than MPG because that's what the consumer wants.
  • by blueZ3 (744446)
    Let's face it, there's a very simple, logical explanation for the failure of the EV-1 and GM's unwillingness to support it: the cars couldn't be sold for the amount of money it took to build them. EV-1s were heavily subsidized by GM as part of an R&D and PR program. I remember reading at the time they were introduced that the actual cost of the vehicle was almost twice what GM was selling it for, and GM could hardly move any, even at half cost. Add to that their extremely limited range and the short lif
    • Bullshit! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RelliK (4466) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:15PM (#15553162)
      Bullshit! All of it! I have to reply to this misinformation.

      the cars couldn't be sold for the amount of money it took to build them

      Change that to "the cars could not be bought for any amount of money". That's right: GM never sold a single EV1, they were all leased with no option to renew the lease or buy the damn car! On top of that, GM made the customers jump through hoops to even get an EV1.

      Still some people were persistent and patient enough to get their hands on EV1s. But after the leases had expired, they had no choice but to return the cars to GM. What did GM do with them? They crushed them! Every single one! Crushed them and dumped them in a junk yard! Seems like the prudent business decision would be to *ahem* sell your product rather than trashing it, no?

      Here is more information on the whole fiasco: link [wikipedia.org]. My take on it is that GM set EV1 up for failure so that they could point at it and say "see? no one wants electric cars!". But when, despite GM's best efforts, customers actually showed interest in it, GM decided to pull the plug.

      • Re:Bullshit! (Score:3, Informative)

        by gnugie (757363)
        GM never sold a single EV1 for a very simple reason:

        Batteries.

        No vehicle in the world has, either before or after, had the sheer volume of batteries of the EV1. The expected lifespan of the batteries was the same as the expected life of the lease. No one in their right mind would buy a car knowing that in 3 to 5 years, another $50K would have to be plunked down to replace the entire array of batteries.

        There's no magic or mystery here. The car was killed because it wasn't sustainable.

        Don't believe me?

        • Re:Bullshit! (Score:3, Interesting)

          by daviddennis (10926)
          While I have no doubt you are right about the batteries, I think there are at least a few owners who would have been happy to put the $50k into a new set.

          I know this nice fellow who runs the Duffy Electric Boat Company [duffyboats.com]. He made a great big pile of money from Duffy Electric Boats, and he bought an EV1 to support the idea of electric car technology.

          The Duffy Boat story is a pretty interesting one for those who are skeptics about electric propulsion technology. Turns out the Duffy Electric Boat was a truly f
      • GM spent about $1 billion in R&D to develop this. Seems a bit expensive to prove a point.
    • by Sithech (858269)
      "GM could hardly move any" is how GM likes to phrase it. GM actually refused to sell them. I would have bought one of them except that they weren't for sale - they were only leased, and you had to agree that you would turn it in at the end of the lease period. Also, the number made was very restricted and there was an onerous qualification process.

      I waited three months for one of the first Priuses and a whole year for the hybrid Highlander. But GM wouldn't do even that much. BTW, the Prius was heavily subsi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:59PM (#15552893)
    . . . was very, very simple. GM couldn't make any money from them. They knew that going into the project, they knew it when they were making prototypes under the "Impact" name, etc., etc. Thirty thousand dollar loss per vehicle.

    So why did they make them at all?

    Well, California was going to impose a zero-emissions vehicle standard, that required a fixed percentage of the vehicles sold in California from every manufacturer be zero emissions. GM figured it could own the Californian market if it could put together a from-the-ground-up electric car, while companies like Chrysler were doing things jurry-rigging electric Voyager minivans. After all, if GM were able to dominate the electric car market, then the percentage-of-sales rule would allow it to dominate the normal auto market in California. Who cares if you're losing thirty thousand dollars per vehicle on a couple of percent of the Californian auto market, if you simultaneously wind up with much higher, law-guarnateed market share on profitable cars?

    So, after GM puts in all this investment, California repeals the law just as it's going to go into effect, leaving GM with no way to actually make a profit from the vehicles. They go ahead with the program anyway (it's too late to save much money, since the tooling was already ordered on year-plus lead times), they recoup some cash leasing the cars), and then when the liability calculations make it cheaper to recycle and scrap than continue to lease or sell them, they got rid of them.

    Five gets you ten that the movie comes up with some wild-ass conspiracy theory involving oil company influence at GM, though. After all, when an activist-favored technology fails utterly in the marketplace, it has to be the fault of Big Evil Corporations.
    • The problem with the simple explanation is that 100 or so of the (former) lessees wanted to buy them, and were willing to absolve GM of any liability, service, or warranty obligations. Many of these people were fairly wealthy, and probably would have paid good money for the cars. Certainly enough to let GM come out ahead after processing the fairly trivial legal paperwork involved. Yet GM went out of its way to collect the cars and crush them into oblivion.
      • The Tucker automobile was manufactured in quantity 50, and every last one of them became a coveted, high-priced collectors item. Tucker (was he played by Jeff Bridges in a movie?) was kind of the John DeLorean of his day -- high-styled, high-living, high-ego, and got in trouble with the law.

        The Chrysler Turbine car of the mid 1960s was given out for trials by dealers and loyal Chrysler customers, collected, and cut up for scrap. The excuse not to save even one for a museum was that they avoided paying h

      • The problem with the simple explanation is that 100 or so of the (former) lessees wanted to buy them, and were willing to absolve GM of any liability, service, or warranty obligations. Many of these people were fairly wealthy, and probably would have paid good money for the cars. Certainly enough to let GM come out ahead after processing the fairly trivial legal paperwork involved. Yet GM went out of its way to collect the cars and crush them into oblivion.

        Although IANAL, I'd be willing to bet that GM's law
        • I think the conspiracy is perfectly reasonable.

          1. GM sponsors an entry in the first Solar Race Across Australian
          2. GM's Sunraycer runs away from the competition
          3. a. The board says, "rah rah, good PR opportunity. Now back to our business of making gasoline-powered cars."
          b. The engineer CEO says, "Build me a prototype, I want GM to be a leader instead of playing perpetual catch-up!" The board says, Are you sure? Might give those crazy CARB regulators ideas...
          4. Impact pr
    • Great post! This makes more sense than all the consipiracy theories.

      Working in the electronics industry RoHS [rohs.gov.uk] has had a similar effect for lead-free R&D.
      You see similar dropping of Pb-free technology development not because of pressure by "big lead," but rather, whenever there is an exemption [arrow.com] added to the list.
    • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @01:04AM (#15553658)
      That was certainly a huge factor and I totally forgot about it.

      The California regulations required that some percent (5%? 10%?) of the cars sold in California be zero emissions by a certain date. So companies start to make electric cars.

      And what does California do? Back away from the regulations. First, they declared that some gas-powered could be qualified as partial zero emissions vehicles (PZEV) and thus qualify for the regulations. I don't have a problem with SULEVs (the less Orwellian name for PZEVs), but anyone who thinks they deserve credit for being zero emissions should have to sleep in a bedroom ventilated by the exhaust of PZEVs for a couple nights and report back how the "zero" emissions are treating them.

      So after GM spends a lot on real ZEVs, California allows other companies to spend less than 10% as much and make the grade. then they flat out ditch the program making GM (and Honda's) efforts an almost total waste of money.

      No wonder the car companies fight new regulations that seem likely to force them to make vehicles there probably isn't a market for. Once bitten, twice shy.
  • S.U.V. (Score:2, Interesting)

    Since they are putting up an SUV on display in the museum does that mean that we may see an end to this class of vehicle soon? How would we explain these vehicles and their widespread popularity to our children who will one day visit this exhibit? Now, as time passes and people see new interpretations of acronyms that get across the lesson we learned from that project or event, I wonder what SUV will mean down the road to our children. So, just out of curiosity I decided to find out what the other possibl
  • by UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:46PM (#15553062)
    Who killed it, Physics. There is only so much energy you can put into a battery. Hulling around 50% of the cars mass in batteries (as is the case of the EV) is not very efficient. Nor is the whole concept when you factor in the energy creation from (coal, oil whatever) to end disposal of the car.

    EVs have nice performance and are can be fun cars. But there is a practical side that needs to be factored in. They typical person may have a EV capable commute, but odds are they also make a few trips a year that are outside the range of the car. That alone makes them a no go for most people. Also they tend to be small 2 seat vehicles. Which again are not practical for most people. People want 1 vehicle that does it all.

    Furthermore, hybrids are far more practical in the end and much more environmentally friendly from an entire life cycle standpoint. That's why all the car companies killed their EV programs (EV1, S10, Ranger, Epic.. All now dead).

    The EV1 was also not that spectacular. I've worked on one. It's a 1980s tech car developed by Aerovironment and sold to GM to put into production. It was a very crude and dated car when it went into production. GM dumped 2 billion into the program, and never even leased 1000 units in the couple years the program ran. They lost money hand over fist on it. It also had technical problems of the charge port catching the car on fire which was the final nail in the coffin.

    EVs do have a place. Fleet service they can work out well for. There you have a fixed usage, daily schedules you can use it around. So the limits of an EV are not a problem. And the durability is a plus. But for consumer usage, they just aren't there.

    Now if you manage to make a battery pack that fits in a 13 gallon space, and has the same amount of energy as 13 gallons of gasoline, and weights the same. Now you are on to something. But that isn't going to happen tomorrow.
    • by Phil Karn (14620) <.karn. .at. .ka9q.net.> on Sunday June 18, 2006 @01:30AM (#15557338) Homepage
      I find it amusing (or I used to find it amusing) when people with no practical experience with electric cars pontificate at length about why "everybody just knows" they can never work.

      How about asking those who actually drove them every day?

      I drove the Smithsonian's car here in San Diego for two years. (Yes, the very same car. See http://www.ka9q.net/ev/ [ka9q.net]). After that, I drove another EV1 for three years.

      The EV1 was a great car, a lot of fun to drive, and it met nearly all of my needs. I don't know about you, but none of my other cars could do 0-60 in 7 seconds, and I considered that pretty spectacular. In fact, my gasoline car went unused for so long that I lent it to a friend. I had a charger at home, and I was also lucky enough to have one at work. (Truth be told, I didn't really need the charger at work.) Since those are the two places my car spends most of its time parked, it was nearly always fully charged when I came out to drive it. I never had to go out of my way to a gas station (except to use the car wash), and I hardly ever had the need to drive more than its range in a single day. On the rare occasions I traveled out of town, my EV1 could still take me to the airport. And on the even rarer occasions I needed to drive out of town, my EV1 could easily take me to the local Enterprise lot where I could rent a vehicle more suited to the purpose (such as a SUV for desert camping).

      The charge port problem to which you refer was only in the Gen 1, model year 1997, which includes my first car. It was caused by a defective capacitor which had already been removed in the Gen 2 (1999 model year) design. I know of no problems with Gen 2 cars, and I'm pretty sure I would have had there been one.

      This is what's so frustrating about having been an EV1 driver: knowing from personal experience just how great a car it was, and seeing others without that experience mouth total gibberish. But I guess we just have to educate people one by one.

  • Fishy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by somethinghollow (530478) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:04PM (#15553128) Homepage Journal


    The reason this is so fishy is because GM denied renewal of leases (despite begging and protest) and took back cars back to have them destroyed. They seemed intent on obliterating the EV1 to remove it from public memory, much the same way the Egyptians did with Akhenaton [cartage.org.lb] when he tried to change the whole of Egypt to a monotheistic religion. And now, on the eve of the release of a motion picture that brings light to a set of events not many people are aware of, the Smithsonian removes (AFAIK) one of the last places people can see a real-life EV1 (like so much stone from a bas-relief sculpture), making a documentary seem, for all intents and purposes, more like fiction in the public eye. Oh, and GM had nothing to do with it. They were not under pressure to engage in some uber sparagmos-like act of worship to the oil gods at the detriment of all EV1s ever made.



    Makes me wish I had GTA'd one and hidden it somewhere for future generations.



    Well, that was a fun conspiracy theory. I'm going to drink some more vodka.

  • Interesting Story (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rie Beam (632299) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @01:46AM (#15553765) Journal
    My chemistry teacher actually owns one of these. He purchased it when they were first introduced, and then was offered almost twice of what he paid for it to sell it back to them. He turned them down and still drives the thing to this day, much to GM's dismay, I'm sure.
  • by barfomar (557172) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @03:44AM (#15554016)
    Is the technology behind the EV1 a secret?
    Why not create a set of plans based on the Open Source model that could be used to bypass GM like FOSS bypasses Micro$oft.
    Eventually, a RedHat will come along and produce the hardware for the masses.

    It may not look sexy like a Jaguar, but it will get you there.

ASCII a stupid question, you get an EBCDIC answer.

Working...