On this day in 1996 General Motors launched production of its first mass produced electric car, the EV1. Manufactured in Lansing, Michigan, the EV1 had a range of 70-90 miles before requiring a recharge. More than 1,100 EV1s were produced for lease testing between 1996 and 1999, making it the first mass produced electric car from a major automaker in nearly a century.
The car came to market under pressure of the proposed CARB law which would require GM and other automakers to make at least 3 percent of the vehicles they build emissions free. Though GM and its counterparts were against the law, GM jumped into overdrive with its electric car project should it go into effect, hoping to build a simple and easy to service electric vehicle.
GM stopped production and leasing of the vehicles among growing interest from the public, citing the program as unprofitable. The reality is that the CARB law was ousted and the need to make electric vehicles was gone. At this point, GM recalled the cars due to safety concerns and a lack of spare parts. A majority of the EV1s were crushed by 2003, but a handful of the them were lucky enough to make it into museums.
Cover: By EV1A014_(1).jpg: RightBrainPhotography (Rick Rowen)derivative work: Mariordo (talk) – EV1A014_(1).jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0