The history of the electric car technology began in the late 1800s. As Schneider writes, Henry Ford's wife drove electric cars, and the clean, quiet vehicles were cast as products for genteel society women.
In the late 1980s, General Motors Corp. teamed with a California company called AeroVironment Inc.
Then General Motors built 1,100 of the two-seater EV1s beginning in 1997, pushing electric-car technology further than it had ever gone in a mass-produced vehicle. (Schneider 4)
The lead acid EV1 required a 5 to 6 hour charge, which offered a driving range of 55 to 95 miles. The nickel-metal hydride battery pack required a 6 to 8 hour charge, which provided a driving range of 75 to 130 miles. The vehicle was available for lease only, and monthly payments ranged from $299 to $574, with significant subsidies by GM and some governmental incentives.
At its time, the EV1 was a stretch well beyond existing technological boundaries. Every system was optimized for minimum energy consumption. It carried 23 patents with innovative approaches to efficiency and weight savings, breakthroughs in the use of electro-hydraulic steering and braking, and the first automotive application of a heat pump. Its drawbacks, however, were a restricted driving range and, as a sporty commuter car, seating for only two people - factors that severely limited its consumer appeal. (General Motors Corporation 3)
I want to draw your attention to the fact that General Motors has chosen a specific target group for the EV1. EV1 owners were a group of persons who cared about the environment and had enough money for it. ...