The True Story of GM’s Electric Car of the 1990’s the EV1

26 мая 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи The True Story of GM’s Electric Car of the 1990’s the EV1 отключены
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The Solar Car Race in Australia

In GM bought Hughes Aircraft for to six billion dollars from the Hughes Medical Institute, a Howard Hughes had created. several marriages and numerous Howard Hughes never had any and he left his estate to the medical Hughes Aircraft dealt in the advanced technologies and was heavily in the U.S. space program.

Aircraft did not exactly fit naturally the GM organizational structure and its management was on the for some way to show its technical could be of value to the automobile In 1987 Hughes Aircraft, built the solar panels for was invited to participate in a race of solar propelled cars Darwin in North Australia to in the south. Hughes Aircraft the invitation on to GM and GM was interested because it quite likely with the solar panel technology of Aircraft and the automotive design of GM that GM could win the competition.

GM was for something to illustrate that GM was on the of transportation technology and not the technologically dinosaur it was reputed to be. However Howard Wilson, the Vice of Hughes Aircraft, pitched the to Lloyd Reuss, the head of North American operation, turned it down. On his way out of Reuss’ Howard Wilson saw Robert who was in charge of GM’s truck and bus and GM’s overseas operations.

pitched the proposal of GM entering the solar car race to Stempel and agreed to support it.

GM chose to its solar racer designed by the engineers at the Southern California and design (RD) firm of AeroVironment had two world-class engineering of Paul MacCready and Alec MacCready had designed and built the flying machine that won the prize money for such a Later he built flying for crossing the English Channel, one of relied upon solar Brooks had designed and built a water craft that the water surface.

AeroVironment in another world-class engineer as a on the project. He was Alan Cocconi. assignment was to build a device to the direct current (DC) the solar cells to alternating (AC) so AC motor could be to propel the vehicle. AC motors did not the brushes that sapped and created heat in DC motors.

The for converting DC to AC is called an inverter . The AC of public utilities has a frequency of 60 per second; the AC for the electric car was set to 20,000 per second.

Alan Cocconi

Cocconi was able use the inverter to create and the regeneration of electricity to recharge the battery. When power was not delivered to the motor the AC motor as an AC generator and the inverter converted the AC to DC recharged the battery. This was called regenerative braking or for short.

The racer had a teardrop for aerodynamic efficiency with the covered with solar The racer was so streamlined that its coefficient was only 0.12 as to a value of about 0.25 for production cars. The proposed was accepted in Detroit thanks to the of Robert Stempel, who had become a advocate of electric car technology for GM. It was and in the race starting in Darwin it took the lead and never was Its winning time was just 45 hours for an average speed of under 42 miles per hour.

It was a public relations success for GM.

The GM Electric Car

In the late 1980’s GM top rehired the RD firm of AeroVironment, time to design a concept car. It was significant that GM to an outside firm. It was similar to IBM an outside firm design the computer which it marketed in An outside firm was not constrained by practices and thus would do a better job than an inside

AeroVironment completed its design and built a prototype. Roger the CEO of GM at the time, introduced the electric car at the Los Angeles auto show in He was so pleased with the response he went on to announce on Earth Day of that GM would build car.

Roger Smith

GM to Design an Electric Car for Production

In the 1990’s with this interest in an electric car at GM Kenneth R. was chosen to manage the program.

R. Baker

in retirement

Baker was a bit to manage another electric car after his disappointment at the cancelation of the the Electrovette. But after seeing the for the new electric car program among top GM he to take the assignment.

Baker was to think in terms of an annual of no more than 25 thousand per year. A new model for the standard GM would typically involved of 250 thousand or more. GM had four previously acquired the Hughes Co. with its advanced expertise in


Hughes also had developed a for the management of technical development it called system engineering . GM system engineering for its programs and the car program needed to use that

When Baker and the other people at GM examined the concept car built by AeroVironment they that there was much needed to be redesigned for a production The AeroVironment team reported their electric car had a driving of 120 miles. Baker and his team that figure meant a lot than it appeared to mean.

The range [] was real, but the news failed to mention that the side mirrors had been its windows and doors and body taped, that the seals had cut off bearings to reduce even bit of drag.

More important, the failed to mention that the braking had been cranked up so that on level ground the car nearly stop as soon as the let up on the accelerator; on steep hills, of the high regen recouped much more energy, that much more And the car had been driven until its was 100 percent discharged, punishment no battery could repeatedly [] [I]n real driving with the regen adjusted, and the taken down to 89 percent of discharge, the car’s range was like 70 miles. On a sunny

A windless sunny day. A sunny day on which the driver not to use the heater and cooling fan.

The Car Could . page 10.

To achieve air resistance the concept car was built only 5 inches clearance the ground. GM required 8 inches of for its cars. An engineer found the electronics of the concept car was failing on average, about twenty of driving time.

Ken Baker and his had their work cut out for them. another organization was throwing its around.

The Bolshevik Tactics of the Air Resources Board (CARB)

was created in 1967 by the Mulford-Carrell Act combined the Bureau of Air Sanitation and the Vehicle Pollution Control This Act was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. CARB is a within the California Environmental Agency.

CARB is unique in that is the only state which is to have such a regulatory This is because California is the state that had such a agency before the passage of the Clean Air Act. Other can adopt the CARB standards, or can use the Federal standard, but they set an air regulatory standard of their

The eleven members of the Board are by the governor. The Board is roughly divided by the professionals in the fields to regulating air quality; the other are representatives of the regional air quality organizations such as those of Los San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego. One whether any economists were to the Board. The proper mode of and operation of CARB would been to impose a charge on pollution emitters based the amount of the pollution emitted. The would have to find a for the charge that reduced the emissions in an air basis to the level it sustain and still maintain quality.

The choice of adequate would have been a rather than scientific

The granting of regulatory power to was perfectly legitimate but as so often with institutions having to do environmental issues they take on a quasi-religious nature and end up like a band of talibanic In the case of CARB the nitwittery had to do the promotion of electric cars. The of technical, financial and economic of electric cars were but nevertheless people became of their promotion. The members of became imbued with advocacy and went beyond the concern with air quality to to force the introduction of electric Instead of allowing the consumers to lower pollution vehicles as a way to on the emissions charges the members of decided to dictate with a reminiscent of the Bolsheviks of the Russian that automobile companies have to sell specified of electric cars in California or be financially.

In September of 1990 adopted a schedule for the types of that could be sold in in the future. It was a complicated program but the provision was that in 1998 two of the automobiles sold in California had to zero emissions. It did not really much sense to require two of the automobiles sold by an automobile in California to be zero admission but CARB was demanding it.

Consider the social class of such a policy. Suppose it $100,000 to produce each car as opposed to $25,000 for a conventional car. At a price of $100,000 the might not sell any cars. The would then have to losing money on the electric in order to make a profit on cars.

Suppose the price of cars is lowered to $50,000 and the sells enough to constitute one of its sales. This is not enough. The would have to go still Suppose at a price of $40,000 the of electric cars reach the two percent. At $40,000 only the would be buying those cars.

So the net result of the mandate be that the wealthy advocates of cars are getting something want at $40,000 that would not be willing to pay for the $100,000 of production.

Though the CARB was unreasonable and outrageously self-serving to the of CARB it was there on the horizon for GM and put it a bind with respect to the of an electric car. In order to a case that the mandate be removed or postponed it had to emphasize the of producing an electric car while at the time developing such a The focus of the attention was on the technical of developing such a car, but was a whole set of additional problems of such a car into production. to reiterate, the final and most problem was how to produce profitably an car at the price level such its sales would amount to two of total sales.

This may have been impossible.

The Problems at GM Involved in the Design of the EV1

The of an electric car for production was a difficult but the GM did a credibly good job. The was plagued by organizational conflicts at GM. It was plagued by some of the designers upon pursuing their pet

For example, the group assigned to the of designing the body was set upon the body all out of aluminum. That seemed to take precedence all others and imposed problems some of the other design such as those responsible for the of the car in a crash.

Perhaps the difficulties of the design can be illustrated by the trivial problem of the of a name for the car. Originally the chosen was Santana . a not particularly name but also not a particularly bad That name was dropped it was found that a French car had used it for one of its models. The alternate chosen was Impact . a particularly bad for an automobile.

Somehow GM was not able to that Impact was a poor and to change it. This indicated institutional psychosis at GM.

The more problem of institutional psychoses at GM had to do the rivalries among the divisions of GM. For GM had two divisions, Delco Remy and Electronics, located only miles apart in central Delco was originally Dayton Laboratories, a company founded by Kettering, the inventor of the automobile and later head of GM. Delco was given the assignment of producing all of the (alternators) for GM cars.

Delco was responsible for producing all of the radios and controllers for GM cars. Hughes was a high technology company by GM in hopes of utilizing its world-class Delco Remy and Delco were intent upon their traditional assignments GM. Hughes’ management was intent demonstrating Hughes’ value to GM.

The car offered to Delco a whole new and field covered by its battery-motor But the electric car needed sophisticated if for nothing more than the required to convert direct (DC) to alternating current Hughes’ management also saw the as something that they and should do.

There was another GM the Automotive Components Group, had say-so concerning which produced what. And there was Baker with responsibility for the electric car to production caught in the of the turf war.

In addition to turf problems there was the schizophrenia connected with the impossible mandate imposed by the Air Resources Board (CARB). GM had to the difficulties of producing an electric GM management did not want any positive concerning the electric car that encourage CARB to dig in its heels the 1998 mandate.

Despite all of the and institutional difficulties Kenneth did a magnificent job of getting the production designed. With difficulty eleven hundred EV1’s produced. They were out to gather information about the acceptance of the electric car with its If GM had set the lease rate at a level with the cost of production would not have gotten any except a few posturing Hollywood Instead GM leased them at a rate to gather information drivers who were neither sold on the idea of an electric car nor opposed to it.

The company did not want to lease to the electric car enthusiasts and so had to try to weed out. This of course the enthusiasts who thought the program was a vehicle marketing operation. Of GM was not entirely successful in eliminating the

GM subsequently announced that it was the EV1 because there was no demand. it meant was there was no demand at exceeding the cost of production. It have done a better job of this.

Instead the enthusiasts this to be a lie because they that demand was a term was independent of price.

The End of GM’s EV1

The way GM chose to end the EV1 program seems to been a tragic, foolish GM recalled all of the leased vehicles all but a few, were smashed. GM have auctioned them off for for enough to bring in from to thirty million dollars. is a paltry sum compared to the seven million dollars or more went into the program.

GM did not to be responsible in the future for providing for the EV1’s but that could been eliminated in the sales Likewise for any defects in design might develop after of use. The destruction of the EV1’s was a relations disaster for GM.

Toyota and which also produced electric vehicles also to smash their cars, but did not get the bad publicity GM got.

(To be continued.)

Michael Shnayerson, The Car That . Random House, New York,

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