What did kill the electric car?

I heard there was one working in the 70s..

17 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The electric car concept has never been “killed.” It has only been knocked back. 100 years ago there were more electric cars on the road than any other. They were popular for their ease of use, quiet, and reliable nature compared to the then smelly, noisy, complicated and difficult to maintain and operate other vehicles of the time.

    In the late 1980's while the personal computer was in the middle of 20 years of rapid advancement GM won the world wide solar car race in Australia.1 The team was then challenged to make a passenger electric vehicle. The result was the “Impact” a concept car with state of the art electronics. The Impact was produced in California and was a shock to the automotive world. 2

    At the same time California, the state with the most air pollution, and its California Air Resources Board, (CARB) was struggling to come up with a solution to air pollution. 3 Seeing the Impact already existed they came up with the Zero Emissions Mandate which required Automakers who wanted to do business in California to have a small percentage of their vehicles sold in California produce zero emissions like the Impact. 4

    The automakers did two things. First they negotiated a compromise with CARB and allowed them to produce vehicles “for the demand” and not as a percentage of other sales and GM produced the EV1 and the S10 EV, Honda the EV+, Ford the Ranger EV, and Toyota the Rav 4 EV. All were purely electric vehicles, but they were only available for lease. You could not buy one outright. Advertisements for the EV1 were dark and gloomy. Prospective lessees were grilled and told all the negatives of the electric cars. Even so there were waiting lists that were not filled.

    Another development was that in 1996, GM purchased world wide rights to the the ovonic nickel-metal hydride battery, a great innovation in battery technology. But when they produced the EV1 they put in lead acid batteries. It was only after public demand they started putting in the better batteries. 5

    And there were still waiting lists for cars. So the second thing that the Automakers did was sue the CARB and its members individually. The members were already rattled by wondering what they were going to do if the automakers did not comply with the mandate. They settled the lawsuit and hydrogen cars replaced electrics as the golden child. At the last shameful meeting it is clear that the CARB members were not going to give a fair hearing to anyone trying to preserve the zero emissions mandate. It does not take an intelligent person to see that there is an official story and then there are actions and back room deals that are not so obvious.6

    GM sold the rights to the only promising battery technology to Texaco who then merged with Chevron 6 days later.5 Chevron brought suit against the only competing producer of these batteries for cars and the batteries in the Rav 4 EV were no longer produced. This gasoline producing company says it is willing to license the batteries for car use but "strangely" this competing technology has never been licensed. There are Rav 4 Evs with the original batteries operating over 100 miles on a charge still running after 100,000 miles today.7

    A violent act may “kill” a child. But when the parent refuses to give it proper nourishment and watches it slowly die what do we call that? GM and the other automakers "somehow" seemed to get the same unprecedented idea to only lease their vehicles and at the end of the leases to recall their vehicles and crushed them. Only some S -10 and Rav 4 EV remain on the roads today.

    One EV1 was given to the Smithsonian and kept on display in a wing built with funds from a GM ceo. When the movie “Who killed the Electric Car” came out and interest would have been keen around the display it was quietly removed with no intention to be displayed again. 8

    The conclusion is clear that the electric car of the 90's was starved to death by those who did not want to see it survive.


  • 1 decade ago

    Despite what others are saying it was the general public that “killed” the electric car. The EV1 cost about $80,000 each to produce and GM used a lease price of US$33,995 to US$43,995, but even at that price it couldn’t stand up to the competition, if I remember right a Toyota Corolla sold for less than $10,000, given that I could buy a nicer, much nicer car, and still have a lot of money left over to pay for fuel, that left the EV1 behind the 8 ball.

    Also what people don’t say or remember is that the EV1 was beginning to have problems, due in part to the short R & D time for the car. Some of those problems included failure of some parts that might cause an accident. So GM at the time was faced with cheap competition, and the possibility of millions of dollars in lawsuits should just one person die as a result of the failure of one part. Given the cheap fuel, competition, and potential liability GM took the safe route and destroyed the cars.

    By the way I love it when people say big oil is in bed with the car companies, if they are so tight why didn’t big oil pump a few billion of their profits into the car companies?

    If there would have been a big enough market GM would be pumping out the EV1 descendant today.

  • 1 decade ago

    They are not practical. They cost more, and don't work as well as gas or diesel powered cars.

    Would you buy a gas powered car with a 2 gallon gas tank?

    Gas and diesel powered vehicle create their own power from their fuel on demand and independently. This would have to replaced in the way of electric power generation and power distrubution, to support electric vehicles. As it is now the electrical grid can just barely support population growth.

    Imagine everyone is driving an electric car trying to evacuate from a hurricane when the electricity is out, no one can charge their batteries, and there are dead electric cars blocking all of the roads.

  • 1 decade ago

    Car companies, oil companies and government killed the electric car. YOU really need to watch "Who Killed the Electric Car" by Sony Pictures. Ok maybe you have but its excellent information. The movie starts out slow and boring but soon they get into the nitty gritty of it all. Below is a link to watch the movie in 10 parts I think there is a series that is only 4 parts. 10 thumbs up to "Breath on the wind" above he/she covered almost all the basics of this subject.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Back in the 90's when GM, Ford, Toyota, and Honda made them they cost about $80-100k to make. However they were nothing more than a subcompact with lots of batteries, an electric motor, and no storage space. The usable range was about 50 miles and they took forever to charge.

    People simply aren't going to pay $80k for a car that looks like a $15k car. On top of that they would need a real car if they wanted to go more than a few miles or needed to bring more than 1 other person with them.

    GM was the 1st to produce them and the last to stop. All 4 manufacturers crushed their cars to prevent them from falling into the hands of a competitor since they all had very different technology. Someone could have combined the 4 systems into something far better than what any of them could build on their own.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Our dependency on oil, the oil barons, and the lobbyists killed the electric car. Our uncertainty helped, too, because those groups fed on it. We were unsure it could be efficient enough to power a Hummer because we love our SUV's. The fact that the Bush Administration gave tax breaks to people who drive Hum V's didn't help matters, either. So what killed the electric car? Greed and ignorance.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    hire the movie out, even though its a bunch of bias ****. the electric car was only up for lease from gm because of the technology involved at the time. it cost gm too much to maintain and service. people says stuff like it was the oil companies but it just wasnt. there are working electric cars now too, like the tesla kharma. just nobody wants electric cars because they dont have the same mileage and people dont understand them aswell. i myself dont like the idea of an electric car because im a revv head, i love fuel, and the noise and the smell of internal combustion engines. u dont even have a gearbox with an electric car, wats the fun in that? besides electric cars dont really help the environment, because if everyone starts using electricity, more coal will be used to supply us with electricity at the power plants. its just as bad. also, it is currently impossible to dispose of lithium batteries, so they go into landfills and pollute the planet.

  • 1 decade ago

    Early on all cars were electric then Henry Ford mass produced his gasoline car and sold it cheap.

  • yeah, it was invented by thomas davenport, i think... he invented the first electric motor anyway... but i think the power of the cars wasn't so good and wasn't ideal for times back then. but the ideas are coming back on it with our new hybrid cars

    Source(s): i am a relative of thomas davenport
  • 1 decade ago

    The fossil fuel lobby along with political apathy.

    The citizens are always open to alternative technology as long as they see something concrete at the policy level.

    Affordability & performance are other factors as electric cars haven't matured on these fronts.

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