EV1 Electric Car was CRUSHED by GM, let’s review what really happened. GM finds it has crushed itself, too.
Crushing the EV1, GM crushed itself.
Why did GM crush the EV1??
The NiMH EV1 had an EPA certified range of 140 miles on a charge; none of the EV1 lessees complained about the range. So if the customer wants the car, despite what someone else says, why not sell it to them?
When GM crushed the EV1, it drove away its own customers, who went to Toyota. Toyota was happy to take our money and sell us the Toyota RAV4-EV, last sold in Nov., 2002. If there was no “liability” issue for Toyota, GM did not have that excuse either.
“Not enough electric??”
Far from a shortage of electric, being able to buy a plug-in car would actually help the utility grid. The EV1 charges slowly, at night, when there is too much electric; and the money you save NOT buying gasoline will more than pay for your rooftop solar PV system. This isn’t fantasy, it’s FACT; hundreds of Toyota RAV4-EV drivers put solar on their roof and now drive for free, free of pollution and free of cost since the money they saved paid it off years ago. But you can’t do this unless you can buy a plug-in car, none are offered for sale by the Auto Alliance.
“Battery too expensive??”
The EV1 came in two “flavors”: one using advanced NiMH batteries, and the other using cheaper lead-acid batteries. With PSB EV-EC1260 lead batteries, this EV1 had a range over 100 miles on a charge. The cost of this off-the-shelf battery pack is no more than $4,800. The rest of the EV1 is just electronics and bent metal. As for Nickel, it’s entirely recyclable; after the Nickel battery wears out, perhaps 200,000 miles, the only expense is melting it down and “reforming” it into a new battery, using all the old metals and components.
“Cost too much to build??”
Lutz stated that the EV1 would cost too much to build. But in 1994, GM bought control of the NiMH batteries under guise of going into production, and, in 1996 and in 2000, famously claimed that it would have leased as many as people wanted, it was a “production vehicle”.
Left, charging in Burbank; right, the EV1 on display at a fair in Irvine.
At the EV1 mock “funeral”, a very sad day and something we could not really wrap our minds around, that no one was going to notice how this great car was being destroyed, unknown to the public.
Alexandra and Ted.
It rained for many days at the Vigil, but some few days were sunny; there were always many people willing to help, and many more who wanted just a chance to buy an EV1. But GM refused to sell.
Toyota did sell its RAV-EV, but GM was either afraid — or continuing its pernicious campaign to sabotage and kill the Electric car.
Here’s the prize: 77 working gen-II NiMH EV1, which could have been sold for $25,000 cash each. But one GM insider told me, “…Wagoner makes that much in an hour, it may be a lot of money to you but to him it’s nothing.” Now, in 2008, GM is begging for handouts.
True Story of the EV1
There are a lot of mistakes and untruths in stories about the amazing electric EV1, the car that won the enduring love of so many former drivers in its brief 6 years of existence. The following is the true account, which you will be able to comment on for corrections or recollections, or for how your feelings were smashed when the beautiful EV1 cars were taken away and killed.
The EV1 originated from the GM Sunraycer, a solar-powered Electric car. Using a $3 million budget, a prototype all-electric battery-powered version was delivered by 1989.
Prototype EV1 delivered to GM in 1989 for $3 million.
Electric cars are much easier to design, having basically only one moving part. There is no clutch, gearing, oil changes, smog check, pistons, rings, valves, crankshaft, flywheel, rods, wrist pins, etc., etc.
The only complicated part of an EV is the motor controller, basically a bunch of electronic stuff that is cheap and lasts forever.
This prototype was driven into the L.A. Auto Show in 1990 by former GM Chairman Roger B. Smith (of “Roger and Me” fame), intended to prove that GM had good intentions about reducing emissions.
The California Air Resources Board (“CARB”), under pressure from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), was trying to reduce car emissions “by 10%” with a deadline of 2003.
The Zero Emission Vehicle (“ZEV”) provided one easy, bureaucratic method for doing so: CARB simply “mandated” that “10%” of all cars sold by 2003 must be ZEV!
For years, auto makers, their industry association (then the American Automobile Manufacturers Association, “AAMA”; later Japanese makers were allowed to join and it became the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, “AAM”), with oil companies and their industry associations (Western States Petroleum, “WSP”), had been fighting any sort of increase in miles-per-gallon (“mpg”) or decrease in refinery or auto emissions.
CARB now, it seemed, had the facts required to force GM to produce the EV1, and to force other car makers to follow with other ZEV. CARB is in a weak legal position, because interstate commerce is regulated by the federal government, not the states, and the only way CARB has power over autos would be under mandate by the EPA, which is charged with enforcing the federal Clean Air Act (“CAA“).
If the EPA chose not to enforce the CAA, then California would be off the hook, and could drop the ZEV mandate.
In effect, California is dependent on federal policies for any leverage over auto companies.
This proved fatal to the ZEV mandate.
Each two years, a review was held by CARB of the ZEV mandate, and auto makers’ progress toward their ZEV targets. Instead of progress, auto and oil industry groups testified that the goal was unreachable, impossible, and that no one wanted an Electric car like the EV1.
In 1994, they engaged a public relations firm run by Joe Cerrell to fight the ZEV mandate. A letter writing campaign, bused-in retirees, focus groups, and other tricks were used to try to derail the ZEV mandate.
After years of acrimony, CARB and the AMA reached, in 1996, a Memorandum of Agreement (“MOA”) which seemed to be an amicable solution. Unfortunately, this MOA was kept secret from the public, which was unable to review it. CARB is still allowing the AAM to scam the public by keeping exact ZEV numbers and status secret, to this day.
As events proved, the AAM had a couple of nasty surprises in store for CARB. First, one ploy to weaken the Mandate was the idea of trading off pure ZEV production for hybrids, and giving “PZEV” (partial ZEV credit) for better gas mileage. This led to an injunction since it infringes on the federal government’s sole power to regulate MPG and CAFE standards. In the aftermath, auto makers used the hiatus to dismantle their battery ZEV programs and crush the EVs. Thus, CARB should have resisted AAM pressures, and stuck to requiring ZEV production.Their conciliation proved a weakness. The second shock was revealed at the CARB 2000 ZEV review: the MOA, contrary to the ideas of CARB, did not commit the AAM to a “good faith effort” to build a market. Rather, it only committed them to put out a certain number of ZEV cars for a certain number of years. The fate of the ZEV was not spelled out in the MOA:
CARB staff thought the ZEV program would expand, and ZEV numbers on the road would increase; while
AAM intended, and the MOA text permitted, the ZEV to be taken back and crushed after the demonstration period ended.
This is why GM, Honda, Ford, Nissan and, for a while, Toyota were able to keep control of the ZEV and not sell to the public (their worst nightmare!) and were able to get away with never offering their ZEV for sale. It was only Toyota, from Mar. to Nov. 2002, which offered the last 328 Toyota RAV4-EV for sale to the general public.
Only Toyota honorably sold a production EV on the free market, without trick or artifice, although there were only 328 to sell. The gas RAV4-EV had undergone two design changes by 2002, so any further production, beyond the 328 sold, would need a complete re-design of the RAV4-EV’s 500 EV-specific parts. Toyota abruptly cancelled the RAV4-EV sale, stopped taking deposits, and spent months finding the parts and car bodies to fullfill unexpectedly heavy orders. All orders were filled, but it took a while.
EV1 wait anxiously for ABC news crew to publicize the danger, but it was in vain. Not even the news could save them from being destroyed. In the background, dozens of EV1 drivers do their best to try to save their beloved cars.
GM only leased the EV1 under special conditions that removed the purchase option. If you didn’t sign the lease, you didn’t get the car: as one Honda Honcho stated, “…they don’t care whether you take it or not, they are losing money on each one…”.
In 1997, GM released the first of two “builds” totaling about 650 1997 EV1. Originally powered by Delco (now Delphi) lead-acid batteries, they only had a 60-70 mile range and the battery packs often proved defective. After 1998, the defective Delco packs were gradually “upgraded” to Panasonic lead-acid batteries, which increased the range to 110 miles and never failed. While peppy, there was an alarming sway under heavy acceleration, the windshield seals leaked into the dashboard electronics, and the windshield tensioning led to persistent windshield blowouts. These leases had “unlimited miles”, but that didn’t do much good since the cheap Delco batteries kept breaking down.
On Mar. 2, 2000, GM issued a “voluntary recall” of ALL 1997 EV1, claiming that the 1997 EV1 had design flaws, one of which could lead to fires under certain conditions. This was an underbuilt Magnecharger input port, which needed an upgrade that affected all the charging electronics. After 14 months, GM re-released the “upgraded” 1997 EV1 back to their original lessees, this time under modified two-year leases that did not include unlimited mileage. All the “non-upgraded” EV1 were destroyed, and crushed. Just when the EV1 really could travel 200 miles per day with the new Panasonic batteries, this change now billed extra miles at 35 cents per mile.
All of these 1997 EV1 found lessees; none was unclaimed. Those EV1 drivers who lost their “non-upgraded” EV1 were put at the top of the list for getting a 1999 Nickel Metal Hydride (“NiMH”, EPA-certified 140-mile-range) model, when and if they were ever released.
NiMH Batteries Reviewed
GM hinted that they were unable to produce the EV1 with NiMH batteries, which is the reason they released it originally in 1997 with lead-acid batteries. The Impact prototype was crammed with lead-acid batteries in a battery “T” shaped tunnel, which was difficult to ventilate. Putting NiMH batteries into this tunnel was a design disaster. What was needed was a redesign, putting the NiMH batteries under the EV (as Honda and Toyota had done). Unwilling to change from the original design, GM just added a cooling system that used up a lot of energy.
Putting the lie to the claim that NiMH was not usable, Toyota designed and released a ZEV version of its then-new 1996-99 RAV4 which used NiMH batteries, and Honda released a version of its CRX called the Honda EV Plus which also used NiMH batteries. By starting with existing gasoline-powered vehicles, design and production costs were minimized; also, a simpler permanent magnet brushless motor was used, and, most importantly, the NiMH batteries were deployed in a tray under the floorboard. This aided cooling, and also, it turned out, was beneficial for the weights-and-balance and strength analyses. No such EV ever turned over, and the battery pack provided a natural “crush zone” in collisions.
These Japanese EVs were the first production EVs with range over 120 miles on a charge, thanks to the more powerful, longer-lasting, and more reliable NiMH batteries. Toyota, recognizing the importance of batteries, had formed an alliance with Matsushita (Panasonic) called “PEVE”, which developed the EV-95 NiMH battery, the most-researched, most-powerful, most-tested, and the only successful battery that lasts longer than the life of the vehicle, perhaps over 200,000 miles. CARB recognized this in a 2000 position paper resulting from the Battery Technology Assessment Workshop that put an upper cap on NiMH costs at $350/kWh, or at most $12,000 for a typical 30 kWh 770 lb. NiMH battery pack. This amortizes out to no more than 6 cents per mile, less if the 90 lbs. of Nickel and other metals is reprocessed into new batteries when the batteries are scrapped.
This might have been intended as a mild slap in the face of GM, which had gotten them into this trouble in the first place. Essentially, Honda and Toyota were faithfully trying to fulfill the letter of the ZEV mandate, which might have embarrassed GM if it were capable of embarrassment.
To add insult to injury for GM, the Honda and Toyota offerings were issued for $499/month, less money than the $599 lease cost of the EV1, which had less powerful, defective batteries. GM was forced to lower its lease cost.
The most successful EV ever made, the Toyota RAV4-EV on the right, is still active in California in fleet and individual use, still running on the original pre-2002 Nickel Metal Hydride batteries and still retaining a range over 100 miles, even though Toyota is not providing replacement batteries. All the other EVs produced under the prodding of the ZEV Mandate, including the 1997 EV1 on the left, were NEVER SOLD OR OFFERED FOR SALE, and all have been destroyed by permission of CARB when, in March, 2003, CARB surrendered to the petroleum industry and the Bush regime.
Only three (3) CARB Commissioners voted to preserve these EVs.
Those voting to kill the EV1 were Chair Alan Lloyd and 7 other Commissioners.
The 1999 EV1 was delayed, GM stated, by a cooling issue. The original EV1 was designed for lead-acid batteries, which were more heat-resistant than the much more powerful Nickel Metal Hydrid batteries used in the 1990 Solectria Sunrise (which achieved 220 miles range on a charge).
Finally, in Dec., 1999, under pressure from CARB’s Jan. 1, 2000 deadline, GM released about 200 1999 EV1 with NiMH batteries. They proved to have a 160 mile range, and never failed. In addition, GM solved some of the flaws in the 1997 version, removing the sway, new seals, etc.
As one EV1 driver, the late Mr. Don Devlin, happily exclaimed, “…Its a sensation…Huge congratulations … A revolution in … range…”
All the 465 1999 NiMH EV1 which were made available found happy lessees. None ever went unwanted, none ever had problems. All were mourned when they were abruptly crushed by GM.
No more were ever built after 1998. GM had dismantled the EV1 supplier and manufacturing plant in 1998, it was reported by GM insiders; the only question was who would be allowed to lease the already-built EV1. Over the next 18 months, the remaining 200-odd 1999 EV1 were released, a few at a time, to selected lessees, mostly high-profile celebrities and politicians.
There was never a time when an EV1 could not find a willing lessee.
In 1999, ex-Governor Davis appointed Alan Lloyd, a fuel cell advocate and enemy of Battery EVs (“BEV”), to the position of Chair of CARB. CARB gradually weakened and then withdrew the BEV component of the ZEV mandate (it was existing EVs that were killed: the ZEV mandate itself is nominally still in force, but currently “inoperative” so far as actually doing anything).
With the 2000 seizure of power by oil politicians and the ascension of Andy Card, GM’s chief lobbyist against ZEV Mandate, federal EPA policies were modified and CARB’s ability to affect AAM policy and production diminished. At meetings, AAM execs just stood with arms folded, refuseniks.
In March and April 2003, CARB Chair Alan Lloyd presided over postponing the ZEV mandate to 2018, “back-ending” compliance and relying upon Hydrogen Fuel Cell cars which would be much more expensive and would require extensive research over 15 years.
No one can explain why Lloyd considered BEV “too expensive” but why the proposed 15 years of research into a new infrastructure and technology, less promising than Compressed Natural Gas, would be “practical”.
The batteries exist, the cars existed: the failure was CARB.
The EV1 were trucked to Mesa, AZ, stripped of tires and batteries, subjected to an 18″ crush, then trucked back to smelters in California. It is estimated that GM spent about $600 to destroy each EV1 instead of selling them for $25,000 each.
Helpless, without allies, the EV1 were herded up, sequestered, then hauled in covered car transporters to the great killing ground in Mesa, AZ. After the assassination, the remains were melted down, far from the drivers who longed to save them.
Solar Electric Photo-Voltaic
Solar Electric Photo-Voltaic (PV) Power is one of the enabling technologies to solve the biggest political problem of the 21st Century: Energy Independence. The other enabling tool is the Plug-in Electric car (EV).
Together, PV-EV allows us to substitute renewable solar energy you can make yourself on a rooftop solar system to replace oil. It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely for some! If enough people are able to go PV-EV, we can avoid overseas oil imports and avoid overseas political entanglements with oil dictators. Ordinary individuals can commute using an 80 mph, fun Electric car, charging overnight with cheap, otherwise unused grid power.
With credits from solar rooftop power, live essentially oil-free of the gasoline pump, free of smog checks, oil changes and tune ups. Each morning, the Electric car is full, ready to drive. You never know how much fun an Electric car is until you feel the smooth acceleration from a standing stop, and the joy of driving gas-free.
Solar rooftop electrric power and plug-in Electric cars for Energy Independence now.
There was always a waiting list for the 465 1999 EV1 Electric cars, even though they were only leased and cost $500 per month plus 50 cents per mile. Most on the list did not have a chance to get a car. NO other model was confiscated and destroyed like this, even alleged mistakes like the Corvair and Edsel, which are still on the road and still have car clubs and fans.
Hybrid cars that can not plug in to charge are still tied to the gasoline pump, still require oil changes, smog checks and tune ups. Only a car that plugs in can cut oil dependency.
Hydrogen is a myth not worth waiting for. Compressed Natural Gas is a clean car technology that is here, now. If GM were serious about Fuel Cell cars, it would start by making CNG generally available. Hydrogen cars would need many new power plants to free, compress and store the Hydrogen. The “hydrogen hype” is just a PR campaign to delay battery electric cars.
Electric cars charge up overnight, using off-peak electric power. Electric cars are so efficient, we could easily eliminate more than 40% of our gasoline usage just with existing off-peak electric capacity, as shown on DrivingTheFuture.com.
The weak point of an Electric car is the batteries. GM bought control of the advanced NiMH batteries needed for all plug-in EVs but showed no intention of improving them or perfecting them.
Chevron owns the patent rights on the EV batteries!! What? Why?? Read or comment
Toyota, working to meet the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, set up a production line in 1997 for the “large-format” EV-95 batteries needed for their Toyota RAV4-EV.
These EV-95 NiMH batteries, after years of research, were perfected for EVs:
- Deep Cycle, no memory effect;
- High energy output for acceleration;
- Long lifetime, longer than the life of the car — even a Toyota car.
Toyota’s EV-95 batteries are still running Toyota RAV4-EV cars more than 20,000 miles per year, and for over 100,000 miles so far. But no more EV-95 batteries can be made, after Chevron sued Toyota.
In 1994, Stan Ovshinsky, the inventor of the NiMH battery and principal of Energy Conversion Devices with the late Dr. Iris Ovshinsky, sold control of the NiMH batteries to a jont venture, GM Ovonic, between GM and his company, with the goal of manufacturing patented NiMH batteries for EVs. Ostensibly, GM was supposed to go into production, and thus, it seemed, perhaps, natural to allow them control of the battery they would, supposedly, be using. In the event, Honda and Toyota used NiMH 4 years prior to GM’s final release of a NiMH version of the EV1.
But passing control of the batteries to GM proved a fatal mistake for the future of EVs.
GM announced on Oct. 10, 2000 the sale of the worldwide patent rights for the NiMH batteries to Texaco. Six days later, on Oct. 16, 2000, even before the sale was consumated, Texaco announced its merger into Chevron, the successor to Standard Oil of California. The sale of the batteries was finally concluded on July 17, 2001, long after Texaco had become one with Chevron.
Chevron/Texaco received “…GM’s 60 percent stake in [NiMH] batteries, and a 20 percent stake in ECD itself…”, giving Chevron effective control of NiMH.
In October 2000, Texaco Inc. bought GM’s 60% share in GM Ovonics Battery Systems, adding to their existing 20% share in the company, and restructured the joint venture as a 50-50 partnership with ECD Ovonics, renamed Texaco Ovonic Battery Systems LLC. Less than a week later, Texaco and Chevron Corporation announced a merger plan, which was completed a year as they became ChevronTexaco Corporation.
In 2004 this joint venture was renamed Cobasys LLC.
In addition to holding a 50% share of Cobasys, Chevron holds a 19.99% interest in ECD Ovonics. Chevron maintains veto power over any sale or licensing of Cobasys’ NiMH technology. In addition, Chevron maintains the right to seize all of Cobasys’ intellectual property rights in the event that ECD Ovonics does not fulfill its contractual obligations. On September 10, 2007, Chevron filed a legal claim that ECD Ovonics has not fulfilled its obligations. ECD Ovonics disputes this claim. N/A
On Mar. 6, 2001, just months after inheriting control of NiMH batteries, Chevron’s associate/subsidiary cobasys filed suit against Toyota, Panasonic, their PEVE joint venture, Sanyo et al.
On December 12, 2001, Chevron’s affiliates filed an arbitration demand…with the International Chamber of Commerce…In December 2002, an arbitration agreement…on Nov. 4-19, 2003, the hearing was held, and concluded on Jan. 21, 2004.
On July 7, 2004, the settlement agreement ended in complete defeat for Toyota, Matsushita and their joint venture, PEVE. NiMH was only mentioned for “hybrids”, those which cannot plug in, and Cobasys, Chevron’s unit, became distributor of PEVE batteries, received $20 million licensing fee, in addition to $10 million paid to Energy Conversion Devices.
“Cobasys will also receive royalties through December 31, 2013 on certain NiMH batteries sold by [Toyota] in North America.”
Chevron oil, the successor to Standard Oil of California, thus worked with GM to eliminate the batteries needed for plug-in EVs, similar to how America’s small urban commuter railroads were bought up by the same surprising buyers. The railroads were dismantled, the right-of-way lost to the public domain, just as the NiMH batteries are now unavailable to run EVs or plug-in hybrids that can replace our oil addiction and address global warming concerns.
Until we move to plug-in cars and electric trains, any talk of dealing with climate change, decreasing oil use, or getting free of our oil addiction anemia, is a sham.
Chevron’s subsidiary sued Toyota, Panasonic and other battery makers, forcing a settlement agreement and $30,000,000 payment from Toyota to Chevron’s subsidiary.
Most importantly, Toyota’s NiMh EV-95 production line was closed down, and
No more EV-95 batteries are available for any purchaser at any price.
Toyota closed down their production line, and the batteries which power the RAV4-EV or the 1999 EV1 are no longer available. Chevron’s patent rights don’t expire until 2014.
When General Motors and oil companies claim “the batteries are not ready”, they are asking you to ignore the hundreds of 2001, 2002 and 2003 Toyota RAV4-EV still running on EV-95 NiMH batteries, faultlessly performing to the specs needed for plug-in EVs and plug-in hybrids.
Don’t let them get away with ignoring these real, working batteries, and oil-free cars!
It’s not economical to ignore proven batteries in order to do endless “research” on battery technology that is no better than NiMH. They will lie, and say “Nickel is too expensive”, but they have no documentation, no facts. Ask them how much of the battery is Nickel, and how much that recycles for. Nickel has not advanced in price much more than other metals, and it’s non-toxic, recyclable, and only a small fraction of the cost of the battery.
Rally pics from Feb. 26. Former EV1 drivers continued to offer to purchase their cars for cash for years. This is a check for $1,700,000 representing the $24,000 residual value for each of the 77 remaining EV1 6-year old used cars. GM refused to sell, and continued crushing and destroying the last of the EV1. Blomberg bloops on GM’s Volt.
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