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The other day, long-time plug-in vehicle advocate and overall voice for cleaner cars Chelsea Sexton published her first column on AutoblogGreen, and it brought together two ends of General Motors's electric vehicle story – the EV1 and the Chevrolet Volt. We've since updated that post with a video of the event from GM and noticed that GM posted a response to Chelsea's column as part of the company's outreach to former EV1 drivers and fans. As Chevrolet Volt communications guy Phil Colley wrote, "we know if [ex-EV1 drivers] enjoy the experience, chances are good that other EV enthusiasts will enjoy the experience as well."

The General has now invited Chelsea to be a part of a webchat that covers the Volt, the EV1, the "Who Killed the Electric Car?" movie and "what she thinks GM has learned from the whole experience." The discussion begins at 2 p.m. EDT today and you can participate or just read what happens after the jump.

[Source: GM]



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  • 25 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey Chelsea,

      What cars have you owned in the past; what do you currently drive; and what dream cars would you like to own or drive? It's okay if it's not eco-friendly (if you say Ferrari, I wouldn't think any less of you :)

      Thanks for your columns and all the good work you're doing promoting EVs. We need more people like you to spread the word around.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hi Shane,

        I'm afraid I haven't owned anything all that exotic- my own cars have been an old Honda Civic wagon, followed by a bunch of Saturns, some of which were company cars. I still drive the last of those, an Ion Redline, which is an absolute kick to drive even for a gas car. ;o) It is also the "big" car in the family, as my husband drives a smart. My intention is to keep driving the Ion until I can get something with a plug on it, which is why I won't buy one of the current hybrids.

        When I worked on EV1, I had between 3-12 of those as well (as other Specialists left, I inherited their cars, as mine was the busiest market area) to care for, and that I drove daily when they weren't on loan somewhere or otherwise engaged. Their torque absolutely spoiled me, so anything in the dream car category is similarly inclined. I do love the lines of some of the Astons and Ferraris, but all things considered, I'd have to pick Tesla. All of the fun, none of the guilt! I haven't driven a Fisker, so can't really weigh in there.

        That said, I'm not someone who can see spending $100+k on a car for myself even if I had it to spend (I didn't get the female shopping gene either, go figure), so I settle for getting my Roadster fix on the occasional test drive. But even though I have a family, I like cars that are fairly small and nimble, and preferably quick.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I will answer your questions wardialer. Pretend I am a GM executive.

      "1) was there really no demand for a vehicle that was neither marketed or available for sale?
      2) was the car that disappointing that it didn't warrant further research? (their hydrogen hummer seems like a much bigger waste)
      3) why charge lessees for dings in the door if the cars were crushed anyways?"

      1)Their was demand for the EV1, we spent millions of dollars on our ad campaign trying to scare people, er, I mean trying to sell the car. We just could not make enough money off service and parts and knew we could get CARB to swallow the hydrogen hoax's and the new president at the time, President Bush helped us sue CARB and push the hydrogen hoax. Aside from R&D costs, we were not that far from the break even point with the EV1, even hand building them. We hired Aerovironment to develop the EV1 because our engineers could not be bothered with it. 40 years from now we will release the numbers and you can see for your self.

      2)The car warranted more research and many people found it fun to drive. After all it would beat a 5.0 Mustang from 0 - 45 mph. We simply could make more money selling ICE's. The ICE car is in our blood and the EV1 created to many revenue losses. Damn motor could go potentially a million miles with out maintenance. How are we suppose to make parts and sales revenue from that? Sure we could have become a battery manufacturer but it was easier to sue the government for lower CAFE standards and sue CARB, we made significantly more profits doing it our way. President Walker Bush said oil would be cheap well into the future, he was suppose to have a relationship with the Saudis, some relationship.

      3) We charged for the dings in the door, because sir. Nothing is free. You signed the lease didn't you. In the lease it says you would be charged for dings. Do you have something against us for tying to recoup some of our losses?

      Our marketing experts knew the public was ingnorant enough to be duped into the hydrogen hoax, we may have misled the public in this way but it was very profitable to sell our SUV's while the public waited for H2 cars which will always be just around the corner. We most likely would have dropped the Volt program if we did not need the governments money. Thank you for your cash, please come again!

      In the interest of full disclosure, I have not worked for GM but spent $95k buying their ICE vehicles between 1999 and 2005. If I can answer any other questions, I am happy to be of service. The Volt is a step in the right direction.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sorry I did not see that first one.

      "the questions to ask however are:
      what would a big oil company like chevron want with a competing technology that they haven't improved at all while sitting on the patent these last couple of years? cobasys was losing around $80M / year before recently being sold to samsung/bosch who STILL have no say in who gets to use the technology. what did GM think texaco was going to do w/ this patent?"

      You see Wordialer, the reason we sold the patient to Chevron/Texaco is for the same reason we crushed and or decommissioned all the EV1's. We payed Aerovironment a fair some of money in R&D to build the EV1. We paid Oshinsky for his battery patients. We could not have other companies or individuals keeping our EV1 and disassembling them and though introspection learning all the innovations we paid for and possibly competing against us with our own technology. Crushing them was the logical choice. The battery patients were much the same, we paid for them, we may as well recoup some of our losses from the program and sell them to a corp that would not readily compete against us. We may have been in a joint venture with Chevron at the time and owed them some money anyway, so it was very convenient and logical to sell the patients to them.
      Thank you, please come again!

      • 5 Years Ago
      Just like the recent poll by GM - 83% would prefer a Volt over 100 mile BEV.
      http://gm-volt.com/2010/04/28/lutz-gm-research-reveals-83-would-prefer-volt-over-100-mile-ev/
      It's all spin. Depends on how you ask the question:
      Would you rather have a car that you can easily fill with gas when you run out of electricity or one that you have to find a charger for when it runs out?

      Would you rather stand around in a gas station filling a tank, or have a car that is fully charged in the morning after spending 5 seconds pluggin it in at night?

      Would you rather have a car that requires regular oil changes and tune-ups, or one that doesn't?

      If GM can get Chelsea to say nice things about the Volt, they will certainly take advantage of it. Hopefully, if she does say anything complementary, it will be backhanded. "Yes, I like the Cehevy Volt, but the car would have been far superior if GM hadn't abandoned the EV1 project". Or something like that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The discussion made no mention of the governments mandated new cafe standard. At 35.5 mpg it assures that a good amount of ev and phev must be sold to achieve that average. The other point is that we need the support system for the ev, we need public charging systems installed at malls and other locations. I think that MIT's work on the lithium ion phosphate battery shows alot of potential for future batteryu technology that will make the electrical vehicle, not only a reality, but a desirable ride.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nice try on the belated damage control GM. You're only, uh, umm, about 10 years late.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You guys are so filled with false GM hate that you're hurting the EV movement.

      The EV-1 wouldn't sell today at the price point it was at. Period, no question. Get over it, GM made a smart decision to crush those cars, and to halt the program.

      They spent More than any car company on development, and their work made the current movement possible. Look to the variable voltage AC motors and see the chain, GM to AC Propulsion to Tesla and others.

      The EREV is the only way to go. The Leaf is going to sell to people with a 2nd car and a few die hards only. It's not going to change the way any non-follower feels. Normal people will turn away the second they hear 100 mile hard limit.

      EREV's don't compromise convenience, comfort, reliability or range. Anyone can get into an EREV and instantly save an average of 80%+ on their fuel usage, and in need drive exactly the way they always have. There's no draw back compared to an ICE, other than cost which will come down, and there's plenty of advantages.

      Hating GM in the past for some movie which emphasized some dramatic crushing scenes and ignored pointing out why the crushing was good business is foolish, but forgiveable. Hating them for the Volt is hypocritical in the extreme.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Greg Woulf said, "The EV-1 wouldn't sell today at the price point it was at. Period, no question. Get over it, GM made a smart decision to crush those cars, and to halt the program."

        What price point Greg? GM was so interested in subterfuge and miss information at the time we don't even know a price point, do you? Yes, I am sure GM could have easily made the price point out of reach, imagine that. My price point for purchasing your 01 Corvette was over $45k. My price point for purchasing a EV from Li ion Motors with 120 mile rang was over $42k with shipping.

        "GM made a smart decision to crush those cars." Considering the new administration coming in giving 100,000 tax right offs for Hummers, sure GM made a smart decision to halt the program, for GM, not the people who did not want to be addicted to oil. Not all the GM executives agree with you about crushing those cars. Rick Wagner said he regretted that decision. Great decisions to sue CARB, sue the EPA, crush EV's and halt the program and have the new oil president Bush help. Seems those decisions were not the right choice after 8 years of making the wrong choices, GM went bankrupt.

        Greg said, "They spent More than any car company on development, and their work made the current movement possible. Look to the variable voltage AC motors and see the chain, GM to AC Propulsion to Tesla and others."

        "They spent more than any other car company on development..." Why was that? Just a lark or what? Must have been some government funding set aside for GM to pay Aerovironment to develop the EV1. If only CARB had not seen the EV1 sitting there, they would have never made you produce the Aerovironment car.

        " Look to the variable voltage AC motors and see the chain, GM to AC Propulsion to Tesla and others."
        So what are you saying here? GM is the grand daddy of EV's? GM did everything in it's power to squash EV's. You had some die hard execs like Tom Gage who did not want to give up on EV's and GM is taking the credit for that. How much funding did GM give to AC Propulsion's to carry on. Did you let ACP use any proprietary components from the EV1? Some how I doubt this. AC Propulsion's is the grand daddy of EV's and before them it was Aerovironment. GM was just the 800 lbs gorilla in the room that could not be ignored. GM was forced to produce the EV1 and when the pro oil administration came into power they gained enough political clout to successfully sue and keep the country addicted to oil and the ICE for profit. To hell with global warming, to hell with national security, easy profits was what the Walker Bush administration wanted right along with GM. After all we were just recovering from the dot.com bubble, Bush like Reagan was willing to trade environment and national security for profits and jobs, jobs, jobs.

        Toyota came out with the Rav4 that had the range of the EV1 and seated four and had more ground clearance. On top of that they were some how convinced not to crush all of there vehicles. GM's plan of, out of sight out of mind did not come to complete fruition. Some of those Rav4 are still on the road reminding the public of the longevity of the vehicle and their components. I did read that Toyota is still crushing them today when they get a chance. Preposterous!

        Greg said, "The EREV is the only way to go."

        I respectfully disagree. Choice is the only way to go. Educating the public is the way to go. We did it with cigarettes and we can do it with EV's

        Greg said, "EREV's don't compromise convenience, comfort, reliability or range."

        As far as convenience I have not yet used a public charging station in the year I have been driving my EV approx 12,000 miles so far. On cold days I preheat my EV, in the garage with the door closed with the engine idling, it is very convenient. As far as comfort, my EV is as comfortable as the ICE car it was converted from. Reliability, there have been some glitches but nothing that prevented me from driving the car when it was not in the shop. (My new 2005, 4wh, 4 door Siverado was in the shop three times, stranded me twice in the first six months, turns out it was the battery intermittently discharging on it's own). Range, I have never been stranded, I have a brain and I use it, I know my vehicle capabilities. I don't use my Corvette for 4 wheel drive applications either.

        Look, I understand how all this happens, I voted for Walker Bush twice and purchase three new GM vehicles between 99 and 05 all of them V8's. It does not make it right!

        The Volt, if Joe public can afford it, is going to expose the public to EV driving, that is a good thing. 50 mpg in charge sustaining mode is a good thing. Their may be a time when a larger percentage of the public demands EV's and RE-EV's, the demand will c
        • 5 Years Ago
        "False GM hate?" It's not hate but history.

        Let's say you are trying to sell me a new light bulb - but several years ago you sold the patent to the light socket to the whale oil industry and they haven't sold a single light socket to anyone since then. This destroyed the light bulb industry since the whale oil lawyers sued anyone who tried to make their own light sockets. So nobody made a single light socket - and therefore nobody COULD sell a light bulb - for almost a decade. Now you come here saying you really REALLY love light bulbs now and want to sell them but you are only going to make 10k of them. And you lie and lie about why you sold the patent to the evil whale oil company. And you lie about actually ever trying to sell light bulbs in the first place - the only ads you put out for light bulbs were scary, unfriendly, gloomy versus the happy, smiling, peppy music enfused ads for harpoons you put out the very same year.

        It isn't hate to have a memory. It isn't hate to expect the executioner of the electric car to at least admit they screwed up and give some kind of reason (ANY reason at all) for single handedly destroying an entire industry (the EV that is).

        Pardon my ability to remember what happened a few years ago. You are fortunate that you are not burdened with that capacity.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Reading the comments so far it seems clear that GM needs to address their reasons for selling the patent for NiMH batteries to an oil company (of all people!). They need to come clean about all of the lies and half truths they have told in the past and are still telling regarding the EV-1, the CARB mandate and their efforts to defeat it, selling the NiMH battery patent, the hydrogen hoax and who exactly came up with this red herring in the first place, and all the other issues surrounding the EV-1.

      There needs to be many, many more of these type open discussions as well. GM may believe that they can just gloss over the past and nobody will call them on it but the odds of that are vanishingly small.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I will just say that it's obvious you have an agenda of hate, Wardialer.

      The interview was good, the poster before you said it wasn't filtered, and I agree with him.

      I do recall something about EREV trucks, I'll look and see if I can't find the link. I'd warn that if my memory it the item is good that it was in the negative and had to do with wind resistance.

      Without knowing what your specific questions I may be wrong and I apologize if I was, but it seems to me that this wasn't the right place to grind your axe.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wardialer- I'm sorry I didn't answer your questions, but I assure you it was my fault. I've watched some of the chats before and sometimes they go so slow they're like watching paint dry- so I was trying to pick and answer as fast as I could, but only got to a fraction of the total. (There were also some engineering questions that I didn't pick because I don't know the answers.) But I can promise that Phil wasn't filtering them from me- was a condition of participating at all.

      If you want to post them here, I'll answer them if I can?
      • 5 Years Ago
      have they fooled Chelsea into speaking their case and glossing over the past..
        • 5 Years Ago
        I would disagree. It is called moving on. We have all got to do the best we can from here moving forward into the future. If people are more comfortable with the Volt it may do more for less gas use than the Leaf. Joe public is extremely range challenged as per the comments above. I am not because I know you can use a 100 mile range car for about 345 day per year but Joe sixpack public is ignorant, as I was before I started using my EV.

        It is terrible to have to think. Oh my god, you mean I can't just stop and pay the oil corps and country's and fill up my tank in 10 minutes and shove a bunch of smoke out my exhaust? Forget it, that is way to scary. I would never buy a 100 mile range car cause I am to ignorant to figure out were I will be going. I have kids so I could not possibly do that. (Precisely because you have kids you should be using a EV, setting a positive example for your kids should be a priority) Kids should know their are trade offs for doing what you belive in.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wardialer- I didn't pick questions based on who asked them. In fact, with rare exception I didn't notice who asked what because I was trying to go fast. But I did go back and find your questions:

      "to originally gauge demand for the EV1, you claimed that no amount was good enough while GM PR mentioned that 4000 dwindled down to 50 applicants. who was closer to the truth and why?"

      It was my experience that we (EV Specialists) could never get a specific number from GM at the time as to how many people on a list or other demonstration of demand it would take to re-start EV1 production, and that the waiting list we did compile (~5,000 people) wasn't considered sufficient. I'm not sure how GM arrived at the "4,000 to 50" statement, as there was never an attempt to contact everyone on the list in the few years between when we started compiling it and when I left the company. There were letters sent to some on the list toward the end of the program, asking for a completed credit app to remain on the list in hopes of assuming the rest of someone else's lease. Between that, that it was known that the plant had been dismantled, and the fact that they'd been left hanging all that time, it's no surprise that the response wouldn't have been overwhelming. I was actually on that waiting list myself and never was contacted.

      "if BEVs are demonstrated to be more popular than ER-EVs by sales and profitability of Nissan's Leaf, will GM abandon their platform in favour of what the public wants? how will this affect their bottom line and long-term vision?"

      Obviously, I can't speak for what GM will do in that case, though I'm not sure these are mutually exclusive choices. If demand for pure EVs is clear, I'd hope that GM would do another EV program, either in addition to the Volt if it's doing well or as a replacement. As I did say in the chat, I'd expect that in the next decade, most major automakers would have at least one EV and one PHEV/EREV program...though certainly some will specialize in one or the other and we also have to see what the market ultimately wants. But this isn't an either/or scenario to me.

      "as the only existing retrofit based on PE-VE's NiMH cells, how does the RAV4's continued success and praise from current owners affect GM's claims regarding the many shortcomings of the EV1."

      I would imagine that all of the automakers have learned from the longevity of the RAVs. Even Toyota has been very candid about the fact that they didn't expect them to last so long, though Toyota still continues to pull them off the road when they can, and is still crushing them. With respect to the last generation of vehicles, there was no "honorable" automaker except perhaps, Honda, who said from the beginning that they were going lease cars for a certain time, take them back and build no more. I think they've all learned that some of the things they all thought were limitations might not be considered such by the public, or we wouldn't be seeing so many ~100-mile BEVs on the way now. But PHEVs have also been in the works for about a dozen years, including by GM, who showed a serial PHEV EV1 back in about 1998. So each automaker is making a bet on what they think will do best today. Only time will tell if GM has picked right, but I think the Volt could do very well.

      "when letterman had elon musk and his tesla on his show for some free publicity did GM (through CBS/paramount) have some influence on bob lutz's appearance championing the Volt? (this one's for you Phil)"

      I can't answer for Phil....but I'd guess that GM probably contacted the show directly and offered Lutz as a guest- but otherwise, I don't think they'd need to do any "influencing". Bob's an entertaining character at a time that the company's struggles were a top story. Hardly requires much selling.

      Hope that helps,

      chelsea
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