The 25th Anniversary of General Motors first electric car


This December 5th will mark the 25th anniversary of General Motors releasing the first mass produced electric car in 1994. The car was referred to as the EV1 electric car. The releasing of it changed the world and paved the way for all electric cars after it.

Smithsonian.mag stated, “the EV1, an innovatively engineered attempt to jump-start GM’s 21st century, will never again be driven by loyal fans. Although some 1,100 of the vehicles were produced since 1996 and leased to drivers in California and Arizona, almost all were destroyed once the leases ran out. For many of the lessees, this was a tragedy. As one owner wrote in an open letter to GM CEO Rick Wagoner, “…the EV1 is more than a car, it’s a path to national salvation.” As you can see in the picture in the gallery, almost every car was destroyed and to this day people like me are still confused on why. Why take so much money and just throw it away? They had people who leased and did not lease the cars begging to buy the cars from GM but they refused. This prompted many to try and decipher why GM exactly made this decision. One of these people included, Chris Paine, a filmmaker who made a documentary on this event. It was called Who Killed the Electric Car and even had Mel Gibson in it. A clip from the documentary is currently on Youtube. It gives a nice sneak peak into the documentary and does a great job of summarizing it as a whole. I would highly recommend you watch the documentary because it is great and includes so many stars in it with their thoughts on the car itself and the events that took place with it.

The car was beloved by its owners but due to lack of profit and the zero-emission law change in California everything eventually crumbled. The car had great interior but lacked space with only two seats. The model will live on though through the many museums it can be found in like the National Museum of American History for example.

The electric car did not just make an impact on its owners but the entire car industry as a whole. Not even ten years later Tesla released their Roadster in 2008 while GM went a different route and decided to release the Chevrolet Volt. Still today electric cars are finding difficult ways to get people to go all electric. Greencarereports stated , “As of last year, 70% of Americans still haven’t even been inside an electric car, according to a J.D. Power survey. ” That is surprising to me due to the popularity of Tesla in the past few years and how great Elon Musk has been. I do believe though without the 1,117 that were produced in California and a few other states there would be no big Tesla names out there.

I found this event very odd and it made me realize that it is just one of those occurrences in the world that leaves you thinking, “What If?”.