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arturodiaz's avatar

If GM managed to build the EV1 with great specs and at a reasonable price why has no one been able to do it again?

Asked by arturodiaz (553points) March 26th, 2010

I been interested in buying an electric car but I have failed to find cost effective alternatives on the internet that meet my needs. I’ve seen lots of concepts but very few actual production models.

Do-it-yourself conversion kits do not seduce me at all as most of them are not very well integrated. I wonder for something that is more commercial and that I am able to buy easily, not just for lease.

I saw the specifications of the EV1, and they are very good, I would buy it today at the very same price it was sold then. And that is technology of 1996, 16 years from now! I am sure there have been some advances in electric motors and batteries by now.
I know there is the auto industry, and the oil industry and that they are buying the designs, but I refuse to believe that there has not been one single person in the whole world that has produced a good EV and did not sold the design to any of the big industries

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9 Answers

mrrich724's avatar

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

GM based the lease payments for the EV1 on an initial vehicle price of US$33,995.[5] Lease payments ranged from around $299 to $574 per month, depending on the availability of state rebates.[citation needed] Since GM did not offer consumers the option to purchase at the end of the lease, the car’s residual value was never established, making it impossible to determine the actual full purchase price or replacement value. One industry official said that each EV1 cost the company about US$80,000, including research, development and other associated costs;[58] other estimates placed the vehicle’s actual cost as high as $100,000.[5] GM stated the cost of the EV1 program at slightly less than $500 million before marketing and sales costs, and over $1 billion in total; a portion of this cost was defrayed by the Clinton Administration’s $1.25 billion Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program.[59][60][61] In addition, all manufacturers seeking to produce electric cars for market consumption also benefited from matching government funds committed to the United States Advanced Battery Consortium.

Keep in mind, these are 1996 costs, HUGE costs.

arturodiaz's avatar

Yes, you are true, I was thinking of the 33,995 price tag as definitive. Anyway, they just produced about 800 hundred of them

jerv's avatar

Part of the problem is that Chevron holds the patents on NiMH batteries. NiMH batteries are what allowed the Rav4 EV to have a decent range at a decent price since NiMH batteries are better than lead-acid, cheaper than Lithium-ion, and more robust than either. many Rav4 EVs got 150K+ miles on their original battery packs before needing replacing.

Technology has advanced considerably since he EV1, but there are too many political/economic pressures against getting away from Big Oil for an EV to be cost-effective. If the car itself can be built for $10K then they will either slap on all sorts of taxes to price it out of contention or do something with the patents to keep the vehicle off the market period.

There is some truth to what @mrrich724 says, but the R&D costs could have been ammortized over a larger number of units had GM so desired.
Then again, it was long thought that the US market didn’t want 300HP turbocharged AWD compact cars like the Subaru STi and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution which other countries have had for >20 years so they didn’t bring them over for a long time. When Subaru finally decided to gamble, they sold out an entire year’s worth in five months and goaded Mitsubishi into finally importing the Evo so as not to lose that market segement to a Subaru monopoly.
My point there is that the carmakers have no clue what will actually sell, and are not really in a financial position to take risks right now. That sort of thing, combined with politics, that prevents Ford from bringing the 65MPG diesel version of the Fiesta to the US. After all, we all know that diesels are loud, smelly, slow things, right?

At the moment, your best bet for an EV really is a home-brew, and I know a few folks that might be able to at least send you down the right path. If it’s any compensation, the White Zombie can be reproduced for about $20K. Sure, it only has a 40 mile range, but it can smoke a ‘vette in the ¼-mile :)

Fenris's avatar

What jerv said, plus the fact that they were so subsidised to hell that it was like a knife to GM’s arteries.

mrrich724's avatar

Chevron holds the patent to the batteries… I’m sure that’s just so no one can have them considering Chevron is one of the largest gas stations.

It’s such bull. If gas companies own lobbyists, then we will never get electric cars priced for the masses!

arturodiaz's avatar

Maybe, but are the patents owned in China, Brazil, India?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I leased EVO’s back in the late 90’s and they were expensive, hadn’t a very good range or mechanical reliability even though people were very enthusiastic to try them. We saw more come to the shop on the backs of tows than would go out.

Nullo's avatar

It was a gimmick, basically.

jerv's avatar

@Neizvestnaya They’‘ve advanced a bit since then. Bear in mind that the EV1 was basically a prototype anyways, so of course it had issues.

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