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This Electric Car before Tesla had the potential but never meant for sale

The word electric car once comes to our mind means we start imagining about the Elon Musk Tesla. Often we think, it’s Tesla who started the electric car evolution, but this is the biggest misconception because some prominent brands like General Motors tried it unsuccessfully before. In fact, we can say the company had the intention to become unsuccessful from the beginning though there is no concrete proof still, we can say it by seeing the way of dealing with it. Tesla may be the first company that started selling electric cars to the customer but long before, GM did in a different way to give its customer a new kind of experience. The car is non-other than GM EV1, the world’s first mass-produced electric car by General Motors during the 90s, and was the first electric car for customers in the modern world. Till date, the company never produced another electric car for unknown reasons where the market is booming, and companies like Tesla are making huge profits. There are numerous assumptions regarding the failure of the ambitious project, and even a documentary Who Killed the Electric Car pointed the conspiracy of oil companies but the company rejected the allegations. It’s still unknown why a company like General Motors didn’t show the interest despite seeing the demand, however, there could be three reasons for the failure of GM EV1.

The electric car was not for sale

It may be the first mass-produced electric car in the modern world, but numerous companies had tried it before without launching it into the market due to multiple reasons. The surprising fact is in the 20th century, the United States had 38% of electric cars and by the end of 1915, Chicago had 4000 alone which was the highest number during that time. Even Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company which didn’t produce electric cars bought for his wife. However, despite having the popularity, it started losing the market after Ford produced gasoline car and was lesser than electric car price, and gasoline was cheap due to the Texas oil boom.
From the 60s era, again the experiment regarding the electric cars started, and various companies were doing it, and in 1971, three Lunar Roving Vehicles were sent to the moon. In 1990, companies like Honda, Nissan and Toyota developed but delayed the productions which is why many accused them of working on behalf of the interest of oil companies. In this time, the company made a massive launch of General Motors EV1, but to surprise, the company didn’t have any interest to sell instead it gave to the customers on a lease basis. Even though the demand for the car was high still the company didn’t allow to purchase after the end of the lease, and instead, it asked the customers to renew the contract. The move was unusual, and the company never gave any clear answer regarding this.

The company thought electric cars are not viable

Even the demand for such cars was high still, the company had doubt about the progress and thought the market is not ready for the changes and wanted the CARB (The California Air Resources Board) regulation to be removed. The regulation made it compulsory for automakers to make zero-emissions that the company didn’t want to follow. The vice president of GM even questioned the consumer interest whether they are ready for electric cars or not and all of its top executives expressed negativity regarding this. This was questioned by the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation who said that the company doesn’t want to lose the multi-billion investment in internal combustion engine technology.

Technical issues


The company may be accused of favouring oil companies by suppressing its own ambitious project, however, apart from that, the car faced serious technical issues. GM never admitted that the project as a failure, and instead it cited battery technology as a reason. The lack of availability of battery which was required for EV1 improvement was the main reason according to the company. Though it was able to solve partially later, however, that was not impressive as expected and the charging time was long, and the battery heated quickly where air condition was required for cooling down.

When the car sales in the US market was falling down, former GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner admitted that the decision was worst during his entire tenure that affected the company reputation. Even if the company didn’t admit publicly, but the General Motor electric car was a success and accepted by customers and had the potential to replace the gasoline cars. Whether it’s technical or other issues General Motors unable to see the future of the electric car even though it was ahead of the game during that time. The decision delayed the revolution in the automobile sector until the entry of Tesla else the world could be a little bit different than today.

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