Everyone who drives an EV1 gets asked lots of questions by admiring and inquisitive fellow motorists. These FAQ's are
based on Kris Trexler's personal experiences as well his interpretation of official GM information.
|where is it available? is it a Saturn?
why isn't the EV1 available nationwide?
how's the car equipped? what are the specifications?
what colors are available?
how far can you drive on a charge?
how long does it take to recharge the battery pack?
how many batteries does it have? how do you recharge?
|how much does it cost to charge the batteries?
how fast will it go?
what maintenance is required?
how much is the lease?
what happens if you run out of charge or need assistance?
what other advanced technology vehicles is GM working on?
| WHERE IS IT AVAILABLE? IS IT A SATURN?
As of March 31, 1998 the EV1 is available for lease at Saturn dealers in these California and Arizona metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs (Cathedral City), San Francisco, Sacramento, Phoenix, and Tucson. No, it's not a Saturn. The EV1 is the first car to car to carry a GM badge. It is a "General Motors EV1." GM selected Saturn to market and service the car because of high standards of customer satisfaction Saturn dealerships have achieved.
Electric vehicle technology is rapidly emerging and because of urgent air quality problems in California and Arizona, GM has limited the EV1's initial availability to those states. As manufacturing capacity increases and electric vehicles become cheaper to produce, they will hopefully be more widely available. GM is learning a lot about how to market an electric car along as well as dealing with the complexities of setting up charging infrastructure in California and Arizona. One other issue affecting first generation EV1's is the lead-acid battery pack which is less efficient in cold winter climates, making them more ideal for California's warmer weather. The generation 2 (1999) EV1's will be equipped with either Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries developed by GM Ovonic Battery Corp., or a new type of higher capacity lead acid batteries. NiMH batteries are not at all affected by cold weather, making them ideal for a wider range of climates in addition to offering double the range of the Generation 1 lead-acid batteries. The new lead acid batteries have better charging characteristics in hot weather, and are able to be retrofitted into Gen 1 EV1's. They offer a substantial range increase over the original Delco "Delphi" lead acid batteries that were installed in Gen 1 EV1's. NiMH batteries require special cooling which will prevent them from being installed into Generation 1 EV1's.
|HOW'S THE CAR EQUIPPED? WHAT ARE THE SPECIFICATIONS?
The EV1 is equipped with the goodies we've come to expect on a '90s mid-priced car, and more: power windows with express down, power door locks, electro-hydraulic variable assist power steering, keyless entry, AM/FM stereo with CD/cassette/4 speakers, power outside mirrors, solar reflective "ElectriClear" windshield, rear window defroster, heat pump climate control with air conditioning/heating/cabin pre-conditioning, cruise control, interior lights with delayed shutoff, remote trunk release, automatic parking brake activation and release, cupholder, ABS/regenerative electro-hydraulic braking system (truly a marvel - puts energy back into the batteries every time you stop), Michelin 175/65R14 Proxima RR self-sealing tires, tire pressure warning indicator, traction control, bucket seats, center-mounted vacuum/fluorescent instrumentation with state of charge/power use indicator, 1,200 watt trunk mounted 120v convenience charger, daytime running lamps, foward and reverse gear pedestrian alert horns, dual air bags, and more that I've no doubt forgotten. Everything listed is standard equipment (check out the factory window sticker). GM/Ovonic NiMH batteries offering extended range will be available as an extra cost option on 1999 model EV1's.
As for technical specs not mentioned above, I won't cover them all but here are the basics:
The EV1 is manufactured at the Lansing Craft Centre in Lansing, Michigan.
|HOW FAR CAN YOU DRIVE ON A CHARGE?
I have two driving techniques for my personal EV1: "economy mode" which has given me up to 80 miles range of freeway driving at 65-70 mph, and a "let's see what this thing can do" mode around town that yields a range of 45-50 miles. This has proven to be more than satisfactory for my needs. With over a year and 13,500+ miles on the odometer, I have yet to "run out of juice." The large number of public charging stations coming on line allow drivers to extend their range. As of April 1998, over 300 public chargers are available in southern California at many locations such as Ralphs grocery stores, Costco, shopping malls, airports, theatres, and even gasoline service stations, with more being added. An 80% recharge can be obtained in 45 minutes. The new 50kW Fast Charger takes 10 minutes to charge to 80%. PUBLIC CHARGING IS FREE.
GM has announced that a new type of lead acid battery will be optionally available on the 1999 Generation-2 EV1 at a lower lease price than NiMH. The new batteries offer a substantial range increase over the original Delco "Delphi" batteries, however the NiMH battery option will offer considerably more range than the new lead acid batteries. While the driving range of the new lead acid batteries will be fewer miles per charge than NiMH, they will not have thermal issues that affect NiMH charging in hot weather. Because of their special cooling needs, NiMH batteries cannot be retrofitted into Gen1 EV1's, but the new lead acid batteries are fully compatible and will be installed in Gen 1 EV1's as the original Delco battery stocks becomes depleted.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECHARGE THE BATTERY PACK?
|The first generation lead-acid batteries can be recharged from 20% to 80% capacity in approx. 45 min. with the 220 volt 6.6kW charger. A complete 100% charge takes about 3 hours. These times are approximately double for NiMH batteries. The 110 volt 1.2kW convenience charger is much slower, replenishing approximately 8% per hour or 15 hours for a complete charge. A new 50kw Fast Charger has been developed that will recharge from 20% to 80% capacity in 10-15 minutes.
HOW MANY BATTERIES DOES IT HAVE - HOW DO YOU RECHARGE?
|There are 26 batteries located in a special tray that is removed from under the car for service. The batteries are in a sealed cage that forms a "T" running down the center of the passenger compartment and behind the seats. There is an additional battery to run the heater-a/c fan, power windows, sound system, and lighting system. All batteries are charged together when the plastic charging paddle is inserted into the receptacle in the front of the car. Slip it in, walk away. The GM MagneCharge system is magnetic-inductive. There is no metal-to-metal contact, no chance for electric shock. Nissan and Toyota have also opted for the Magnecharge system for their upcoming electric vehicles, and other manufacturers may use the system as well. Charging can be safely done in all weather conditions. The batteries have no "memory" problem like Ni-Cads, and can be topped off regardless of remaining charge level. When the car is at home, I leave it plugged in. My "tank" is full every morning, and I don't waste time at gas stations.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO CHARGE THE BATTERIES?
I have a separate electric meter for the EV1 charger so I can monitor my energy costs. I am driving approximately 800 miles per month on $17 worth of electricity. I have a timer on my charger that allows me to take advantage of lower "off peak" electricity rates. The timer is easily overridden if I want to charge during the day when the rates are higher. Charging at public chargers is free for at least the next several years, but eventually, drivers can expect to pay nominal fees for public charging.
|HOW FAST WILL IT GO?
Top speed is electronically governed to 80 mph, ostensibly for safety reasons. However, the EV1 is capable of much more. A test car without the governor has done 183 mph. It's QUICK! 0-30 in 3 seconds, 0-60 in 8 seconds.
|WHAT MAINTENANCE IS REQUIRED?
The EV1 is currently only available for the lease. The Generation 1 EV1 (1997) M.S.R.P. is $33,995. In California, the EV1 leases for $399/month which includes a 220 volt home charger and a portable 110 volt "convenience charger." The lease is higher in Arizona due to different state government incentives. The current lease term is 3 years/30,000 miles, but 2 year leases are rumored to be coming. GM is undecided as to whether to make the cars available for sale at the end of the lease, largely due to government regulations that would require GM to support the car with parts and service for many years. Due to the rapidly evolving nature of electric and other advanced vehicles, GM understandably may not wish to provide parts and service for the current EV1 that long. Many EV1 drivers want to purchase their cars regardless, and we have expressed our desires to GM. I think the EV1 is a car collector's dream, and would like to own mine. Generation 2 EV1 lease prices have not been established as of this writing, nor have the re-lease prices of the Generation 1 cars when the original leases expire.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU RUN OUT OF CHARGE OR NEED ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE?
After becoming familiar with the range limitations, it's easy to organize trips that will prevent this from happening. If you do run out of charge or have a breakdown, free unlimited roadside assistance is available. Drivers that have experienced problems have reported a high standard of roadside assistance. My EV1 has been extremely reliable and has never needed an emergency call.
WHAT OTHER ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY VEHICLES IS GM WORKING ON?
|Several new vehicles based on the EV1 platform have been announced by GM's Advanced Technology Vehicles division. Among them are a diesel/electric parallel hybrid, gas turbine/electric series hybrid, compressed natural gas low emission ICE, and fuel cell/electric powered EV1. A truck based on Chevrolet's S-10 pick-up is currently available to fleet buyers. For detailed information on GM's Advanced Technology Vehicle development and RealVideo clips from GM's 1998 Detroit Auto show presentation, check out EV World.
4 passenger EV1
Almost every automobile manufacturer is working to develop advanced zero emission vehicles for the 21st century. A great resource for information on advanced technology vehicle development is EV World online magazine.
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