GM allegedly destroyed every EV1 ever made. Why is one in an Atlanta garage?
Bring up General Motors’ cutting-edge EV1 electric car from the 1990s, and likely someone nearby will blurt out something about how GM was in cahoots with the oil industry to kill the electric car when it sent every EV1 it made to the crusher. See, the cars were mostly only available for lease in certain markets in the American southwest, and were so-called “compliance cars” intended to fulfill a California zero-emissions mandate that eventually was lifted (after heavy lobbying by GM and other automakers). And when those leases were up, GM refused to let customers buy their cars and summarily rounded them up and crushed them. So, what’s a red EV1 doing gathering dust in an Atlanta-area parking garage today? (See the Facebook post here.)
We have no idea why the car was left in a parking garage, but more pressing is why or how the car escaped the crusher in the first place. GM didn’t take back every EV1 for destruction—only most of them. One was donated to the Smithsonian, and a few others were allowed to go into various museums globally. Apparently, movie director Francis Ford Coppola hid his EV1 from General Motors’ sleuths in the early 2000s and kept his. GM did lease a few EV1s in Georgia, but, again, you’d expect those to have been recouped by the automaker in the early 2000s, when the lease program ended.
Rumor has it that some EV1s were given to research institutions after GM took them back—and The Drive claims that this Atlanta parking garage is near a university or research facility of some kind—perhaps Georgia Tech. (Another EV1 appeared in Rolla, Missouri a few years ago; it, too, was found on or near a college campus. ) So, this car could belong to a higher-learning institution and is being stored, haphazardly, in its current location because it no longer is of significant value. After all, the EV1 ran on lead-acid batteries of similar type to 12-volt starter batteries in most gas-powered vehicles, unlike modern EVs’ lithium-ion packs, and while its electronics were bleeding-edge in 1996, they’re handily outsmarted by an iPhone today.
Still, the EV1 is an important and rare bit of automotive history. Even in the mysterious Atlanta model’s bizarre, apparently abandoned state, the EV1’s futuristic tadpole shape, spaceship-like greenhouse, and aerodynamic wheel spats stand out. We saw the images on a car-related Facebook group, where friends of this publication noticed and sent us a note. The EV1 lacks a license plate and looks like it hasn’t moved in a long, long time. Besides wearing a thick coating of filth, the car’s tires are only semi-inflated, the front ride height could indicate there’s nothing under the hood, and some budding comedian finger-painted male genitalia in the dust on the windshield next to a large heart. If there is one novelty that rises above, well, the novelty in an EV1 rotting in the wild, it’s that here we see an abandoned car that is neither rusty (the car used plastic body panels, like a Saturn, along with plenty of aluminum and magnesium) nor leaking oil onto the pavement below.
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