- Mar 12, 2007
General Motors Heritage Center houses four decades of GM's electric drive vehicles
General Motors has been developing electrically driven vehicles for well over four decades, and may now finally be approaching a really viable one with something like the Volt. A few other bloggers and I were fortunate to be invited to visit the General Motors Heritage Center recently, and among many other vehicles we got to see a sample of the vehicles propelled by electric motors that were on hand there. Of course, I brought my camera.
The Heritage Center is a private museum of sorts where General Motors stores and displays classic and historically important GM production, experimental and concept vehicles, as well as archival documents. The center is not open to the public but is used for special events by General Motors. They have over eight hundred vehicles that are rotated through with about 180-200 on display at any one time.
While we visited the center, there were six historic General Motors electric vehicles on display. The oldest was the Electrovair II, a battery powered 1966 Corvair Monza sedan. It was the second electric Corvair, the first coming in 1964, and was powered by zinc-air batteries. They chose to use a Corvair because of it's light weight but the electric version came in at 1,000 lbs heavier than the stock model.
Next up was the ElectroVan, the world's first hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle. Based on a 1966 Chevrolet HandiVan, it used a pair of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks. It saw limited testing on the GM grounds before going into storage, for several years prior to finally landing at the heritage center.
Across the aisle is the GM Impact, concept progenitor of the EV1. The example on display is the first running example of the tear-drop shaped electric, that would set the path for the first series production GM ev, the EV1. We all know the sad tale of the EV1 so I won't recount it here yet again, except to say that there is a lot more to the story than the narrative that was spun in a certain recent film.
Finally, the there are the Opel Zafira based HydroGen3 fuel cell van, the H20 S-10 pickup and the AUTOnomy skateboard chassis. The skateboard was featured in a recent episode of the FutureCar series and presented the concept for the platform of the Sequel fuel cell car. The H20 was a fuel-cell powered pick up truck and on-board gasoline to hydrogen reformer that occupied most of the bed. Unfortunately, the Volt was not present to be photographed alongside its forebears, as it was still in transit back from a conference in California.