After GM first introduced the Chevy Volt concept in January 2007, there was a lot of ire and skepticism from the former EV-1 crowd. Most vocal among them was Doug Korthoff who appeared in the film Who Killed the Electric Car?
Doug has since filled the web with extensive anti-GM rhetoric and used to make appearances on this site. He and I had a chance to meet in LA last year as well, quite cordially.
In response to an article in the LA Times outlining the Big 3 automakers financial difficulties, Doug has reappeared with a letter to the editor that he copied to GM vice-chair Bob Lutz.
"GM has been seriously looking for options for getting more fuel-efficient cars on the market quickly, because there is some question about its financial health after 2008. Rebranding foreign cars has become more expensive as the dollar falls. GM has proposed producing the VOLT, described as an Electric car with a range-extender, but it isn’t planned for earlier than 2011, and it depends on Lithium batteries which don’t yet exist.
There is one option GM has not considered, which would turn things around, both in image and in reality.
GM could resume production of the 1999 EV1, using Panasonic lead-acid batteries. These were leased in Arizona in 2000, and regularly attained a range of over 100 miles on a charge.
Resumption of production would be simple; the EV1 plant is empty, the former assembly workers have been laid off and are idly drawing "jobs bank" salaries, the batteries are available off-the-shelf in any quantities over 1000, and the design is proven successful.
Production of the EV1 does not depend on an expensive product design cycle, new engineering, questionable battery testing and recalls; it’s a proven winner.
This is the GM car that fans watched over in a rain-plagued vigil for 28 days. Here’s an example where would-be purchasers clamored for a chance to buy GM products, hoping for the faint chance that GM would sell six-year-old used versions for $25,000 cash.
Supposedly, GM is now bemoaning the lack of enthusiasm for its current products; why not re-activate the EV1 fan club, recharge the excitement of the "21st century test pilot" GM fans, and turn GM around? Spend scarce engineering dollars on new versions of the EV1: four-passenger, pickups, serial hybrid with range-extender; but the current version could be in showrooms in six months.
If GM had re-started the EV1 line, instead of starting design work on the VOLT, the EV1 would already be generating revenue right now.
Fresh off the assembly line, these cars would sell for no less than $35,000, perhaps as much as $50,000 or more. But the morale value would be even greater.
Revival of the EV1 would quiet GM’s critics, make GM some money, and attract new customers as well as increase floor traffic for other models. New and improved versions of the basic Electric car, year after year, would expand GM’s footprint on the world market, leveraging scarce investment dollars, maximizing profit and leading the way forward.
And we could say once again that our cars were "made in America and fueled by American Electrons".
Is it a measure of GM’s past failure that resumption of EV1 production is not even under consideration?"
Apparently having heard enough of this Mr. Lutz in his earnest no-nonsense way decided to respond:
"The EV will not meet any current safety laws. Putting a version into production that meets regulations would put us out to ’11 or ’12. They cost us well over $80,000 to produce, and, being a two-seater, we could only sell 800 in four years. We lost over one billion dollars on that experiment.
I don’t know why you insist that lithium-ion doesn’t exist. We are getting packs from our suppliers, they test well in both hot and cold, they store the energy as claimed, we are fast-cycling them to make sure they last, we are doing high-temp, high-load testing with the cooling system shut down and are experiencing no thermal problems. Trust me, the battery will not delay the car."
Source (LA Times ) and thanks to our reader KFO18 for Doug’s letter.
This entry was posted on Saturday, June 28th, 2008 at 8:34 pm and is filed under Battery, EV-1, Public Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.