Published on August 17th, 2013 | by BajaBusta2
1997 General Motors EV-1 Test Drive
Environmental concerns really began to hit home with the motor industry at the end of the 1980s, as the public mood world-wide began to take on board at lest part of the ‘green’ agenda. General Motors was ahead of the shift in the ecological zeitgeist, as it was already working on a radical electrically powered road car that could be considered as a viable proposition for the average motorist.
The Impact electric vehicle was something of a future shock machine: the overwhelming importance of having a slick aerodynamic shell to slide through the air meant the Impact’s styling was both functional and high tech. Making the car very lightweight was probably even more important, because an electric car relies on heavy batteries, so the Impacts body was made from composite materials.
The Impact was built around a pack of 32 batteries, which were mounted longitudinally down the center of the car in what looked like a massive transmission tunnel. A clever box of electronics mounted in the nose converted DC current into AC with minimal power losses, powering two electric motors one mounted on each front wheel.
The Impact had a top speed of 100mph and could sprint to 60mph faster than a VW Golf GTI. It was also well equipped, with a very modern interior featuring digital instruments and air conditioning. What conspired against the viability of the Impact was the cost of the batteries and the need to re-charge the car for six hours overnight.
It took more than six years for the Impact to appear as a production car. Renamed the EV-1, the car’s main retail market was environmentally conscious California, where it was sold through Saturn dealerships. But production was only running into the hundreds of cars – although ti was popular with ostentatious environmentalists, and was regarded as a fine car with a handy turn of speed. Although the EV-1 was ignored by most motorists, Californian legislation ruled that manufacturers had to sell a certain percentage of electric vehicles.