Auto Manifesto

December 11, 2008

EV Flashback

Speaking of General Motors, a quick glance down memory lane to the February 1994 issue of Automobile Magazine reveals a test of a prototype of the GM Impact electric car. One reason it was developed was because of California’s optimistic requirement from the early 1990’s that 2% of each major manufacturers’ vehicle sales in the state would be made up of Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs) by 1998.

Looking back the Impact had amazing specifications for its time: Drag coefficient of 0.19, a 70 gasoline mpg equivalent range on the EPA cycle, regenerative braking, a top speed of 80 mph, 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds, and a curb weight of 2,910 lbs. That’s including 1,100 lbs of lead acid batteries, and functional air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, and airbags.

The magazine praised the car’s handling, developed with the help of former Lotus engineers, despite the low-rolling resistance tires that were inflated to 50 psi. GM estimated that with volume production the price would be $24k, though more like $17.5k with tax incentives.

Granted the batteries were hoped to last 1,000 charge cycles and last four years, about 20k to 30k miles, but the idea was brilliant. If they had the will to stick with it, GM would be leading the electric car segment today, and it would probably be a lot bigger than it is.

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