Thank you General Motors for the EV1

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Red EV1 production Number 1 is in the foreground and Silver Impact Number 1 is in the background of this picture at the GM Heritage Centre.

The General motors EV1 electric car changed the face of history forever. The fast sleek futuristic teardrop changed forever the worlds idea of electric cars. Roger Smith commissioned the Impact and his successor Robert Stemple continued with the Impact which became the EV1. As usual GM was light years ahead of all the other car manufacturers just as it had been with electric starter motors, catalatic converters, and Motorama cars. The gorgeous sports car made instant fanatics of anyone who leased or drove her and competely out shone the Ford Toyota and Nissan EV's of the same day. Even today, 15 years since the first EV1 rolled of the production line in Lansing Michigan, there is no comparable electric sports car! It is the amazing Grandfather of the GM Chevrolet Volt Hybrid that we see today. ref: GM Chevrolet Volt and General Motors Chevrolet Volt


EV1 Series Hybrid

EV1 series hybrid prototype at EVS-16 pictured in Beijing, 1999

EV1 Series hybrid

The series hybrid prototype used a stretched EV1 body and a gas turbine engine APU placed in the trunk. A single-stage, single-shaft, recuperated gas turbine unit with a high-speed permanent-magnet AC generator was provided by Williams International. It weighed 220 lb. (99.8 kg), measured 20 inches (50.8 cm) in diameter by 22 inches (55.9 cm) long and was running between 100,000 and 140,000 rpm. The turbine could run on a number of high-octane alternative fuels, from octane-boosted gasoline to compressed natural gas to Aviation Kerosene. The APU started automatically when the battery charge dropped below 40% and delivered 40 kw of electrical power, enough to achieve speeds up to 80 mph (128.8 km/h) and to return the car's 44 NiMH cells to a 50% charge level.

A fuel tank capacity of 6.5 US gal (24.6 L; 5.4 imp gal) and fuel economy of 60 mpg-US (3.9 L/100 km; 72 mpg-imp) to 100 mpg-US (2.4 L/100 km; 120 mpg-imp) in hybrid mode, depending on the driving conditions, allowed for a highway range of more than 390 miles (627.6 km). The car accelerated to 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) in 9 seconds.

There was also a research program[31] that powered the series hybrid Gen2 version from Stirling engine based generator. The program demonstrated the technical feasibility of such drive train, but concluded that commercial viability was out of reach at that time.

GM EV1 Parallel Hybrid

EV1 Parallel hybrid
The same stretched EV1 body was used for a parallel hybrid variant featuring a de-stroked 1.3 L turbo charged DTI diesel engine (Isuzu Circle L), delivering 75 hp (56 kW), installed in the trunk along with an additional 6.5 hp (4.8 kW) DC motor/generator. The two motors drove the rear wheels through an electronically controlled transaxle. When combined with the AC induction motor which powered the front wheels, all three power units delivered a total output of 219 hp (163 kW), accelerating the car to 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) in 7 seconds. A single tank of diesel fuel could keep the car running for 550 miles (890 km) with a fuel economy of 80 mpg-US (2.9 L/100 km; 96 mpg-imp). A similar technology is used in the 2005 Opel Astra Diesel Hybrid concept. This photo was taken at a display in Los Angeles CA,

EV1 Fuel Cell

EV1 fuel cell

The Fuel Cell Prototype extended all-electric propulsion capabilities with a methanol-powered fuel cell system (developed by Daimler-Benz/Ballard for the Mercedes-Benz NECAR), again installed in the trunk. The system consisted of a fuel processor, an expander/compressor and the fuel cell stack. The highway range was about 300 miles (480 km), with a fuel economy of 80 mpg-US (2.9 L/100 km; 96 mpg-imp) (in a gasoline equivalent). The car accelerated to 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) in 9 seconds.

Inside EV1

Use of Advanced Technology

The EV1 was based on a GM Impact Concept car created by AeroVironment which included design ideas handed down from the highly successful GM SunRaycer that won the 1987 World Solar Challenge race by two days. The World Solar Challenge is a Trans-Australia race for solar powered cars. The first generation EV1's, sold as 1997 models, used 26 Delco 12-volt lead-acid batteries. Second generation 1999 models had a more refined smaller and lighter Power Inverter Module and were offered with Ovonic nickel-metal-hydride batteries which improved the range up to a possible 160 miles. Some of the Gen 1 EV1s were refurbished and upgraded with Panasonic lead-acid batteries. The EV1 used many advanced technologies including anti-lock brakes, traction control, heat pump AC and heater, cabin preheat/cool, CD Player, keyless entry and ignition, and special one-way thermal glass for better heat rejection. To keep weight down, the sleek coupe used dent resistant side plastic panels on an aluminum frame, super light magnesium alloy wheels, and magnesium framed seats, aluminum suspension components. To maximize range, the EV1 was super light weight and had the lowest aerodynamic drag coefficient of any production vehicle in history - a Cd of 0.195 compared to the typical Cds of 0.3 to 0.4 that are considered good. It rode on self-sealing, low rolling resistance tires with an automated tire pressure loss warning system. Regenerative braking recouped energy to keep batteries charged.

EV1 Drawing

Great Performance

The EV1 could accelerate from 0-60 mph in about eight seconds and had an electronically limited 80 mph top speed. The Gen 1 cars got 55 to 75 miles per charge with the Delco Lead Acid batteries and this increased to 75 to 100 miles when the Panasonic PbA batteries were substituted. Gen 2 EV1's with 11 cell Ovonic NiMH batteries got 75 to 160 miles per charge. This could have risen to 200-240 miles if Panasonic NiMH had been used. Recharging took up to eight hours for a full charge, with an 80 percent charge requiring just two to three hours. Inductive charging was done via a Magne Charge paddle placed in the front charge port. Magna Charge was also used by Nissan (Altra EV - First vehicle with Li-Ion Batteries) and Toyota (RAV4 EV). GM offered a 6.6Kw home charger and also protoyped a 15Kw fast charger. Lead Acid EV1's also came with a 110v Convenience charger packed in the trunk.


A total of 1117 EV1's were built, 660 Generation 1 and 457 Generation 2. At the end of the EV1 program GM donated around 40 Generation 1 EV1's to colleges, universities, and museums. All the donated EV1's are the original 1997 versions and were disabled by removing the modules and batteries. The rest were stripped of their recyclables and crushed. A few were retained by GM probably as test mules or for Advanced Vehicle Technology research. The Generation 1 Production EV1's were version 5.0 cars

Disney's car at the Epcot Centre is a Limited Production Fleet 4.0 Impact, not a production EV1



GM Impact

183 MPH !

183 MPH Impact ! (set record at Fort Stockton )

Yellow EV1

\AeroVironment Impact


AeroVironment Impact Concept Car



GM Contractor AeroVironment and sub-contractor Allan Cocconi built the SunRaycer for GM in 1987, then went on to build the Impact Concept Car for GM, using the resources of the GM labs and Wind Tunnels etc. Of the 4 Impacts there were two distinctly different cars called "Impact". The first was the one off Concept Car built by AeroVironment and Allan Cocconi, and the second was the 3.0 and 4.0 Limited Production Fleet cars build at Warren Tech Centre By General Motors. The outside body's remained almost identical but the controller and electric drive train was considerably different. The AeroVironment Impact used two air cooled electric motors - one in each front wheel and a mosfet string based analogue controller. The GM LPF 3.0 and 4.0 Impact used a single water cooled electric motor and an IGBT based digital Controller from Hughes alabeit developed from Allan Cocconi's analogue controller. The 4.0 cars were used for the highly successful PrEView test drive program. The battery size and battery tunnel was enlarged from the 4.0 Impact to the 5.0 EV1. Some Pre EV1 concepts show aspects that later influenced the EV1 shape. Aspects such as the small turret and teardrop tail stand out on the 1980 Epcot show car. On the 1982 GM Aero 2000 features like the curved rear window, aerodynamic shape aerodynamic flat wheels, wheel spats, aerodynamic head lamps, etc. are clearly visible. These aspects all made their way to influence the design team who developed the super low drag (.019) Impact Body that went on to become the EV1 Body shape.


Built for GM by AeroVironment, the 1987 SunRaycer won the Australian, Darwin to Adelaide solar challenge by 2 days cruising at 42mph with a top speed of 90+mph


SunRaycer had 4 channels of cruise control - Speed, Amps, Charge, Volts. AeroVironment and Allan Cocconi hand built two SunRaycers and the Impact Prototype.

Red 1980 GM Epcot 2003 show car

Note the Spats, Small turret, Disc wheels , curved rear glass, smooth laminar wind flow from front bumper to tapered tail.

82 GM Aero

Silver 1982 GM Aero 2000 Show car


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Last Updated September 2014