Recalling the Rollout of the EV1 16 Years Ago
1996: General Motors begins delivery of the EV1, an electric vehicle that is a technical triumph for the time. It generates passion-fueled controversy that still reverberates today.
The technological innovations of the EV1 went well beyond the battery pack, inverter and AC induction motor that propelled the car without using any gasoline. The lead-acid battery pack could store only 17 kilowatt-hours for the first generation, roughly equivalent to half a gallon of gasoline. As a result, GM engineers had to do everything they could to reduce the weight and aerodynamic drag of the car to achieve a workable range.
To make the car as aerodynamic as possible, they adopted a teardrop shape with covered rear wheel wells. That resulted in an unprecedented coefficient of drag of only .19, which was about half that of most cars at the time. As a result the car was unfortunately about half as comely as other cars too.
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From the earliest days of GM's EV1, electric cars have enjoyed one major advantage over even high-powered Corvettes and Vipers: startling acceleration.
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