The word electric car once comes to our mind means we start imagining the Elon Musk Tesla.
Often we think, it’s Tesla who started the electric car evolution, thanks to Elon’s marketing mind, and his actions that made us believe that he is the 21st century Tesla.
Probably the most significant misconceptions many of us forced to believe, and it happened due to the failure of prominent brands like General Motors, who tried its hands unsuccessfully before.
We can say the company had the intention to become unsuccessful from the beginning though there is no concrete proof still; we can say it by seeing the way of dealing with it.
Tesla may be the first company that started selling electric cars to the customer, but long before, GM did in a different way to give its customer a new kind of experience.
The car is non-other than GM EV1, the world’s first mass-produced modern electric car by General Motors during the 90s, and was the first electric car for customers in the contemporary world.
The company stopped producing another electric car for a long time due to unknown reasons when the market was booming, and companies like Tesla are making the headlines every other day.
Why did a company like GM stop electric car project when they had everything
It’s challenging to get into their mind being an outsider, and all we can judge them by their actions.
Corporates are smart enough to make fools of mass for their marketing campaigns, and they could go to the extent of losing money to prove something.
And GM is no different who can afford some million dollars loss if that will help them making profits in the future.
They might not want to destroy the established empire for new technologies, but at the same time, they had to show their customers that they are open to changes.
We don’t know for sure but see what happened during that time, and I am leaving this for you to judge.
A controversial documentary
There are numerous assumptions regarding the failure of the ambitious project.
Even a documentary Who Killed the Electric Car pointed the conspiracy of oil companies, but the company rejected the allegations.
American filmmaker and environmental activist who made this documentary claimed that oil companies were afraid of losing the monopoly.
The auto industry feared to lose long-term revenue because an electric vehicle production cost is low, and doesn’t require the same maintenance as a fuel vehicle.
The company criticized the documentary and alleged that the maker didn’t tell some information to the viewers through a blog post titled “Who Ignored the Facts About the Electric Car?” in 2006.
It’s still unknown why a company like General Motors didn’t show the interest despite seeing the demand; however, there could be another three reasons for the failure of GM EV1.
The electric car was not for sale
It may be the first mass-produced electric car in the modern world, but numerous companies had tried it before without launching it into the market for multiple reasons.
The surprising fact is in the 20th century, the United States had 38% of electric cars, and by the end of 1915, Chicago had 4000 alone, which was the highest number during that time.
Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, which didn’t produce electric cars at that time, also bought one for his wife.
However, despite having the popularity, it started losing the market after Ford built a gasoline car that was lesser than electric car price. The cost of gasoline was cheap due to the Texas oil boom.
From the 60s era, again the experiment regarding the electric cars started, and various companies were doing it, and in 1971, we saw three Lunar Roving Vehicles went to the moon.
In 1990, companies like Honda, Nissan, and Toyota developed but delayed the productions, which is why many accused them of working on behalf of the interest of oil companies.
In this time, General Motors made a massive launch of GM EV1, but to surprise, the company didn’t have any interest to sell; instead, it gave to the customers on a lease basis.
Though the demand for the car was high still the company didn’t allow to purchase after the end of the lease, and instead, it asked the customers to renew the contract.
The move was unusual, and the company never gave any clear answer regarding this.
The company thought electric cars are not viable
Even the demand for such cars was high still, the company doubted the progress and thought the market is not ready for the changes and demanded to remove the CARB (The California Air Resources Board) regulation.
The regulation made it compulsory for automakers to make zero-emissions that the company didn’t want to follow.
The vice president of GM asked its top executives whether they are ready for electric cars or not, and all of them expressed negativity regarding this.
It was questioned by the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation who said that the company doesn’t want to lose the multi-billion investment in internal combustion engine technology.
Though many accused of favouring oil companies by suppressing its ambitious project, however, apart from that, the car faced severe technical problems.
GM never admitted that the project as a failure, and instead, it cited battery technology as a reason.
The lack of availability of battery that required for EV1 improvement was the main reason, according to the company.
It was able to solve partially later, but that was not impressive as expected and the charging time was long.
The battery heated quickly and required air conditioner for cooling down.
Whether it’s technical or other issues, General Motors was unable to see the future of the electric car, even though it was ahead of the game during that time.
When the car sales in the US market was falling, former GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner admitted that the decision was worst during his entire tenure that affected the company reputation.
Even if the company didn’t admit publicly, but the car was a success and accepted by customers and had the potential to replace the gasoline cars.
The decision delayed the revolution in the automobile sector until the entry of Tesla else the world could be a little bit different than today.
Though these are history, we can see the ray of hope when it’s trying again moving forward with electric cars and abandoning fuel vehicles.
And finally, GM thinks it’s the time to make something, and we don’t know what they were doing from the last decade when Tesla was making the noise.
Featured Image: Wikipedia