Prompted by AN, I took out my photos from 1997 and found the shots from the day I drove the EV-1 (top, right) in California. The salesman at the car dealership presented the EV-1 as a something for enthusiasts (which contrasted with the sludge I expect he was selling). The idea was that the EV-1 would appeal to people still interested in the technology and car-ness of cars. At the time I was a bit cynical about the GM car. 90 miles didn’t really seem that impressive although even today a 90 mile range would be very useful for most people’s daily needs. I got that wrong then. The Bolt has a 238 mile range.
I’d really like to have a clearer recollection of the experience now other than that I recall clearly the EV-1’s impressive acceleration and the iffy ergonomics of the buttons. What I’d like to do is also look at the car with my current set of eyes. It looks fabulous in photos now, doesn’t it? Would I think the same if I saw a real one?
At the time I did not really understand what I was looking at. Bearing in mind the technology available, (1997) the EV-1 had a very credible range of 90 miles. With a revised set of batteries that reached 130 miles. And I was obsessed with the button graphics.
The main photo above shows another car, the Honda EV Plus. I drove that too and had forgotten about it.
While GM is (rightly) excoriated for totally destroying the EV-1’s, Honda also took back their EV-Plus vehicles (only 340 made) and killed all if them albeit in a nicer way, by recycling them. GM flattened theirs, which was rather tastelessly violent. However, GM are seen as the meanies. The really dumb thing was not to build on the EV-1 experience. Instead as soon as GW Bush’s administration demonstrated its indifference to resource conservation GM pointedly ceased their EV work. Well done, good move.
It won’t surprise you to know that I remember nothing at all about the Honda EV-Plus other than it it was almost exactly like every other small Honda I’d driven. That was perhaps the point too. Honda wanted to show that an EV could look and function like a conventional car while GM wanted the EV-1 to display its USP and to feel like it was worth all the money they were asking from customers who leased one.
On balance GM got the EV-1 wrong as a package, cool as it was. And they got it wrong in abandoning their EV research. I am glad I got to try it though and in a broader EV market, the EV-1 would probably be a contender.