The story of General Motors' first mass-produced electric car, the EV1 (at first, unfortunately, named the Impact). This project was decades in gestation, the early dreams of pollution and noise-free vehicles taking a long time to progress beyond visionary prototypes. This was partly because of opposition to the concept from oil companies and the automotive industry. Eventually a combination of government prodding and technological advances in battery design made it possible. Schnayerson describes the supportive role of GM chairman Robert Stempel and the tenacity of a group of true-believing engineers who kept the idea alive after Stempel was ousted.
From Publishers Weekly
Hailed as the first practical electric passenger car, General Motors' Impact faces an uncertain future, with doubts about whether a market will materialize for a high-priced auto with significantly limited range and few recharging options. The sleek, small, battery-powered aluminum prototype, which runs silently with no engine or tailpipe, owes its existence to ex-GM chairman Roger Smith, who on Earth Day 1990 publicly declared that GM would mass-produce an electric vehicle (EV). He then resigned. When his successor, Robert Stempel, was replaced in 1992, the Impact development team of engineers was significantly downsized, and the project seemed dead. Secret talks initiated by the Impact team with Ford and Chrysler to consider an EV consortium led instead to GM's renewed commitment to the project, which was kept under wraps. Shnayerson, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, recreates a remarkable, inspiring saga of glitches, unexpected setbacks, power struggles and ingenuity, and in doing so he tells how GM, once stagnant, resistant to technological change and battered by foreign rivals, staged a comeback. Photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.