EV1s Ready to be Crushed at Storage Facility in San Bernadino

Update - December 2003 - The Deed is Done!
here to see the EV1 graveyard pictures

Why is GM Crushing Their EV-1s?
The Continuing Fight against the California ZEV Mandate
By Noel Adams
(December 2nd 2001)

GM has taken steps to demolish their EV program:

Since January 2000 GM has been gradually taking steps to eliminate its Electric Vehicle program, going as far as taking EV1s and Chevy S10 trucks out of service with plans to send them to the crusher.

The first bombshell came in January, 2000, only one month after the Gen II began to ship, when GM announced that they had sufficient EV1s on hand to meet current demand and were going to disassemble the EV1 production line and place it in storage.  Jeff Kuhlman, GM's director of energy and environmental communications was quoted in the Detroit free press as saying "GM can and will crank out another batch of EV1s if the market wants them".

The next Bombshell came in the form of the notorious recall in March of 2000 when GM, prompted by a series of thermal incidents including a fire, wrenched all the Gen I cars and S10 electric trucks from their much-aggrieved owners.

GM promised to fix the vehicles and return them to service but said it would take almost a year before a fix could be engineered.  Keep in mind that the Gen II EV1 already had the problem taken care of as part of the re-designed charger port.  Ken Stewart, then EV1 brand manager, announced that GM was still fully behind their electric vehicle program.

At the time of the recall, GM had only 150 of the 500 Gen II vehicles they had built still un-leased. They began to offer the Gen II vehicles to their Gen I customers instead of the people who were on the EV1 waiting list.   GM took months to place these remaining vehicles even though they had hundreds of Gen I drivers anxious for cars.

By August of 2000 GM announced that an engineering fix had been created, suppliers were lined up and the Gen I car would begin shipping soon. Shortly after this announcement a trickle of S10 trucks were returned to service.

In December 2000 GM finally began to return EV1s to their original lessees. Minor damage had been repaired and the cars had been fitted with the new Panasonic lead acid Batteries.  The range had increased to between 70 and 110 miles depending on driving style and conditions; at last the EV1 was living up to its promise.

Then GM released another bombshell.  They informed the world that they were only going to return those Gen I cars into service whose original lessee had indicated they wanted them back.  This amounted to about 200 cars. The reason they gave for not fixing the other cars was a parts shortage.

GM announced that some of the remaining vehicles would be donated to museums.  So far, there has been no indication that any vehicle has been donated.  It appears that GM may cannibalize some of the remaining 450 Gen Is to keep the other vehicles on the road until the end of their current lease.

In March 2001 a letter went out from Ken Stewart, now brand manager for GM Advanced Technology Vehicles, telling people on the waiting list that they would not be able to lease an EV1.  Nobody outside GM knows for sure how many people were on the waiting list but most EV1 drivers believe that there were over 1000 people.

GM has taken their time shipping out the Gen I vehicles.  It is now almost a year since the first cars shipped and some owners still have not received their vehicles.  The fact that people who have experienced this technical wonder have been willing to wait almost two years to get back into drivers seat speaks volumes.

GM has recently made modifications to the charging software on the Gen II EV1.  GM's reason for these changes is to protect the NiMH batteries.

The EV1 was never designed for NiMH batteries and the confined space in the battery tunnel can lead to overheating problems. To get around this the air conditioner is run during charging to keep the battery cool.  The recent changes in the charging algorithm has resulted in reduced range and increased charging costs as the air conditioning is cranked up soaking up amps that would otherwise be pumped into the battery.

Now the final bombshell has hit the EV community as word began to leak out that GM had laid-of a number of EV specialists in both Northern and Southern California and is planning to crushing both EV1s and S10 trucks.

At least 24 EV1s, including some Gen II machines that had been used by GM EV1 specialists, and 11 S10 trucks including eight that had been built as part of the MOA and never delivered to a customer are scheduled to be destroyed.

It should be pointed out that GM's failure to deliver the eight S10 trucks was not for lack of customers.  At the last CARB review of the ZEV mandate, a number of fleet operators including Warner Brothers Studio and Southern California Edison testified that they has approached GM to acquire EVs and been told that there was non available.

Over 200 EV1s sit on a lot in Van Nuys awaiting their fate.  It is not clear if GM plans to send these vehicles to the crusher but nobody is optimistic that they will ever be returned to service.

Those who believe in conspiracy theories might think that GM spent a billion dollars on the EV1 just to prove that the EV would never be commercially viable.

Personally I think the bean counters that run GM just don’t get EVs.  I have seen the pride on the faces of Saturn Salespersons as they describe the EV1 to a prospective customer.  They know that GM has crafted a magnificent vehicle, arguably the best EV ever made.  But the top brass at GM don’t see immediate profit and that, in an American corporate world that seeks instant gratification, is death to a program like the EV1.

So GM fights to stop CARB from imposing its ZEV quota.  Arrayed against GM are many environmental groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists and the American Lung Association.  Their most loyal customers, those few lucky people who get to lease the EV1, are the biggest thorn in GM’s side.  They have organized into a group called the Production Electric Vehicle Drivers Coalition (PEVDC) and are squaring off to fight GM in court.  They are keeping their strategy close to their chest, but at stake is the EV1 they love, sure to be snatched away from them if GM prevails.

In another turn of events, the two Northeastern states, New York and Massachusetts who also planned to adopt the ZEV mandate, have now reached an agreement with the Automobile Manufacturers to delay the implementation until 2007. This will have an impact on the number of ZEVs sold and will make it that much harder for the manufacturers to reach a high enough volume to bring down the cost of these vehicles.  Vermont, the third Northeastern state that plans to implement the ZEV mandate, is still planning a 2003 launch date.

Since CARB voted to keep the ZEV mandate in place there has also been an increase in the number of articles appearing in print that rail against CARB, the ZEV mandate, and electric vehicles in general.  Typical of such articles is "CARB Throws a Hail-Mary Regulation" by Patrick Bedard that appeared in the August 2001 issue of Car and Driver.  Article such as this, many of which were no doubt prompted by the automaker's publicity machine, usually contain a lot of misconceptions and half-truths about electric vehicles.

Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate in place:

On January 25, 2001 the California Air Resource Board (CARB) had overwhelmingly agreed to keep the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate in place.

The requirement to produce 10% of vehicles as Zero Emission was kept but some modifications were made to make it easier for the Automobile industry to comply with the mandate.

The six largest automobile manufacturers will be required to produce ZEVs in numbers that meet two percent of total vehicle sales.  Another two percent can be made up of Advanced Partial Emission Vehicles (ATPZEV) that includes grid rechargeable hybrids, fuel cell vehicles using an on-board reformer to get hydrogen from gasoline or ethanol, and vehicles that burned hydrogen in an internal combustion engine.  The remaining six percent would be made up of Partial Zero Emission Vehicles (PZEV) such as the Nissan Sentra CA and the CNG powered Honda Civic, which meet SULEV emission standards, have zero evaporative emissions, and have a fifteen-year warranty on their emission systems.

Environmental groups and EV drivers appeared to have won the war.  The prospect of cleaner air in California came that much closer.  How the Automobile companies would react as 2003 approached was now the question.

GM was the only manufacturer that continued to openly oppose the ZEV mandate.  On February 23, 2001 they filed a lawsuit in Contra Costa County Superior Court.  In a forty-four-page complaint, GM alleges that the ZEV mandate violates the California Environmental Quality Act and other State Laws as well as the Federal Clean Air Act.

The basis of their lawsuit boils down to the allegation that CARB could find more cost effective ways to reduce air pollution than by imposing the burden of producing Battery Electric Vehicles on the Automobile Manufacturers.

GM also asserts that the ZEV mandate will actually increase emissions not reduce them.  To support this hypothesis GM relies on a report entitled “Impacts of Alternative ZEV Sales Mandate on California Motor Vehicle Emissions: a Comprehensive Study”, better know as the NERA/Sierra Report.

Dated January 2001, this report was authored by the National Economic Research Associates, Inc. and Sierra Research, Inc.  It alleges that the introduction of Battery Electric Vehicles will need to be subsidized by increasing the cost of new vehicles.  The report projects that this so called “ZEV Tax” would increase the cost of every vehicle sold in California by $250 to $400. This in turn would cause people to put off buying a new car resulting in older more polluting cars being kept on the road.

They also allege that because of the charging time for a battery electric vehicle they can only be driven about 8000 miles per year, even though GM’s action to increase the mileage allowance for a three year lease on the EV1 from 36,000 miles to 48,000 miles seems to contradict this claim.  It appears that the increase was in response to many EV1 drivers who are doing more than 12,000 miles per year.

CARB has countered with a study of their own that concludes that the NEDRA/Sierra report had some glaring errors, such as assuming that no improvements in technology would occur between now and 2020.  They calculated the ZEV Tax as between $36 and $52 per vehicle: an insignificant amount.

Automobile manufactures had presented a united front:

Over the past few years the Automobile manufactures had presented a united front to oppose the mandate but now they have broken rank.  Honda and Nissan appear to be sitting on the Fence waiting to see what happens; Ford, Chrysler and Toyota are taking steps to meet the mandate

Both Honda and Nissan appear to be watching to see if the ZEV mandate stays in place or is overturned.  Both manufacturers have placed PZEVs on sale although neither has indicated any plans to market ZEVs.

Nissan has been placing a few of their Hypermini City EVs in various demonstration projects, but Honda has started to remove the EV Plus from service.  An EV Plus coming off lease in good condition is being kept for use in Honda’s fuel cell program, while those in poorer condition are being sent to the crusher.

I would speculate that if the GM lawsuit fails the strategy for both Honda and Nissan will be to place enough fuel cell vehicles, each worth 10 ZEV credits, to meet their 2% requirement, making up the rest with ATPZEV and PZEV vehicles.

Ford now has William Clay Ford at the helm.  He has pointed Ford in a more environmentally conscious direction, and has even been know to drive a Ranger EV.

They have begun to ship 480 Postal trucks, based on the Ranger EV platform, to California.  The production of these vehicles has slowed the availability of the Ranger EV for public and fleet use to a trickle however.

The have also started placing one hundred and seventy Norwegian built Th!nk Cities in demonstration projects and fleets.  They are also leasing a limited number of them to the public through 5 dealerships mostly in Southern California.  In northern California Hertz is offering them for short-term rental at location in San Francisco and Palo Alto.

Because these vehicles were brought to the USA as demonstration models and do not meet all our safety requirements these vehicles is up they will be returned to Norway where they will be crushed at the end of their thirty-four month lease.

These Th!nk Cities are leasing quite well.  Two of the dealerships have already announced that they have leased all the vehicles they ordered.

Word coming out of Norway indicates that the redesigned 2003 Th!nk city, made to meet the safety requirements of the USA, should be arriving is showrooms early in 2002.  It is expected that these vehicles will be offered for sale, not just for lease.

Ford has also started to sell the Th!nk neighbor NEV through a limited number of dealerships in California. Sales of an NEV in 2001 and 2002 are worth 4 ZEV credits so Ford is looking for these vehicles to help it meet its ZEV requirement in the short term

Dailmer-Chrysler also sees early sales of its NEVs as a way to meet their 2003 requirement.  The rumor is that they plan to dump up to 15,000 GEM NEVs in California. If they can sell that many vehicles in 2002 they would accumulate enough credits to meet their ZEV requirements through 2005

This makes sound economic sense for Daimler-Chrysler.  The Fine for failing to place enough ZEVs is $5,000 per unit.  The basic 2 passenger GEM costs about $6,000 - $7,000 to build.  If each GEM is worth 4 ZEV credits then Daimler-Chrysler could give them away and still be ahead.

If their plan is accomplished, do not expect to see EPIC minivans in production.

Toyota has also placed a limited number of its Ecom City EV in service with fleets and demonstration projects but has not announced any plans to market this vehicle in the US.  It has also continued to ship its highly regarded RAV4 EV to fleets in California.

They have also hinted that the RAV4 EV will finally be put on sale to the public some time in early 2002.  They have established a web page where people can express interest in one of these vehicles and several dealerships have told prospective customers that they will have vehicles in the near future.  There has been no indication that these vehicles will be offered for sale, what the lease price will be, or if they will be available outside of California.

Toyota has not yet produced a vehicle that has been certified as a PZEV but the Prius HEV already meets SULEV emission standards and could be made PZEV for very limited cost.

Of course, if the ZEV mandate is defeated in court electric vehicles, with the possible exception of those produced by Ford’s Th!nk division will probably disappear quicker than snow on the streets of Los Angeles. It is also likely that expenditure on research into fuel cells will also be cut back markedly.

So the fate of the ZEV mandate still hangs in the balance.  The battle rages on with the quality of California’s air, and the health of our children at stake.  Only time will tell if GM will win their court battle or if the ZEV mandate will remain in place.

Noel Adams

From the ETList:
Mike Thompson wrote:

Are they really crushing EV1s?

YES! They are. Makes you cry doesn't it?

An earlier post by someone on the ev1-club list, later picked up on the
EVlist and EVWorld:

It seems that General Motors has recently granted permission for a number of 1999 generation 2 EV1s to be crushed sometime in the very near future. Despite having over 1000 people on waiting lists for these vehicles, GM has made it perfectly clear that NO new customers will get an EV1 and there will be NO lease assumptions.  There are also hundreds of generation 1 vehicles that will be crushed because GM decided to re-lease only a few to those individuals who had their vehicles recalled last year (these vehicles have been fixed and enhanced with advanced Panasonic lead acid batteries).

The vast majority of these vehicles received thousands of dollars in incentive money from the California government, local air districts, California Energy Commission and the Federal government.  All of the NiMH based vehicles (gen2) were part of the California Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between GM and the Air Resources Board in exchange for removing the mandate requirements in 1998 and 2001.  The MOA calls for these vehicles to be in service for 3 years.

All of the following EV1 VIN#s (last 3 digits) are 1999 model generation 2 vehicles. All are NiMH (and thus part of the required California Memorandum of Agreement) unless otherwise noted.  Many if not all of the individuals who terminated their lease, did so without paying any of the termination fees called for in the lease agreement.

180 promo car (EV1 specialist in San Francisco)
154 promo  (EV1 specialist in San Francisco)
345 promo  (EV1 specialist in San Francisco)
029 unassigned as of 1/1/1  originally from Arizona (lead acid gen2)
073 promo (EV1 specialist in L.A.)
078 (lease terminated April 1, 2001 zero $)
070 promo (EV1 specialist in L.A.)
166  (swapped for gen1, lease terminated 7/01 at zero cost)
150  (lease terminated 7/01at zero cost)
379 ?? NiMH
292  (delivery 5/21/00  terminated 7/01 at zero cost)
112 ?? Panasonic lead acid
061 ?? Panasonic lead acid
077 promo (EV1 specialist in L.A.)
034 promo (EV1 specialist in L.A.)
224 promo (EV1 specialist in San Francisco)
320 promo (EV1 specialist in Orange County)
302 ?? NiMH
324 promo (EV1 specialist in San Francisco)
256 NiMH (terminated on 6/01 at zero cost)
194  (swapped cars )
153  (film director, terminated 6/01 at zero cost)
155 ( currently terminating)
083  (PbA)( terminated 2/01 zero $?)
112 or 061 or neither could (PbA)(terminated 2/01 zero $)

S10-EV truck returns (probably NiMH)

S-10's part of MOA, still parked (never delivered)

On Tue, 6 Nov 2001, Todd Hunter wrote:

Please forgive me if we have covered this but I wanted to know definitively if they were actually crushing any of the EV1's.

We enjoyed our EV1 rental so much I didn't know if EV1 Crushing was hearsay or actual fact.


Todd Hunter
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Read September 4th 2002 Update from Salon.com
Steal this car!
By Katharine Mieszkowski