Roger Smith, the former General Motors CEO who oversaw the company through the '80s and had a very green vision for GM, died two days ago. Here is a quote from the LA Times by Roger about hybrid cars from an interview he did in 1990 with University of Michigan business historian David Lewis.
Wait until you see what the car of the year 2000 will be ... I'm absolutely convinced it will be a hybrid, part electric, part engine.

In 1986, Roger was the one that agreed to enter GM in the Australian solar race which led to Paul MacCready creating the car that would become the EV1. In 1990, before he left GM, Roger promised that the EV1 could be made, and it was his statements that were probably the reason California created the ZEV mandate. That is not how Roger will be remembered or the way things worked out at GM.

Roger Smith is known in popular culture as the target of Michael Moore's Roger and Me, a movie about GM closing plants in Flint, Michigan and Moore's quest to try and talk to Roger about it. Honda released the first hybrid in 1999 and, as Roger predicted, GM released the EV1 but then they killed it. CEO Rick Wagoner has downplayed the potential of hybrids for years, only recently showing support for the technology. Would things have been different if Roger were CEO of GM in the '90s?

Rest in peace, Roger Smith.


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