In 1975, the U.S. Postal Service purchased 350 electric Jeeps from American Motors for trial operations. These electric jeeps have a top speed of 80 kilometers per hour, a driving range of 64 kilometers, a charging time of 10 hours, heating and defrosting by natural gas heaters. While the 350 electric Jeeps don't materially contribute to the USPS' business, the move is a clear sign of the authorities' encouragement of electric vehicles.
Figure: Electric postal car
It's not just the federal government that is interested in electric vehicles. There are also a large number of electric vehicle enthusiasts in the American private sector. They founded the Electric Vehicle Association and went to great lengths to promote the virtues of electric vehicles. They are constantly searching for the latest research on electric vehicles, and they can get together for an afternoon chatting about the thickness of the wires of a certain control circuit. They are keen to discuss the future of electric vehicles, confidently looking forward to the day when there will be no more choking gasoline cars on the highway. They even did it themselves, rummaging through boxes to create an electric car full of the family's dreams. Michelle is one of them.
Michelle's interest in electric vehicles has grown after her retirement. Starting from the batteries on 12 golf carts, after a year of hard work, he finally built an electric car in 1974, which attracted the envy of his neighbors. "It took me $1,000 and a year to build this car, and then I never had to pay for it at the gas station," says Michelle proudly. "The car can go 40 miles at a time. , enough to transport my wife to and from get off work and for the family's shopping needs."
In the 1970s, electric cars were still a rare breed of automobiles, mostly the toys of wealthy tech enthusiasts. Compared with ordinary cars, electric vehicles are not only far behind in performance and convenience, but also very expensive. The onset of the oil crisis in the 1970s changed that. The soaring oil price has led to a substantial increase in the cost of using ordinary cars, and the internal combustion engine car is no longer the only choice for people to buy a car. People hope to have a travel tool that is both convenient to drive and relatively inexpensive to use. People began to turn their attention to electric vehicles, setting off an upsurge in the development of small electric vehicles.
In 1973, the American Vanguard-Sebring company exhibited the CitiCar for the first time at the Electric Car Show in Washington. The structure of CitiCar is very simple. It has only two seats and no gearbox. It relies on the choice of driving voltage to control the speed of the car, and the top speed can reach 64 kilometers per hour. The entire body is made of ABS plastic, which avoids rust that may be caused by steel materials. The weight of the whole vehicle is 612 kilograms, of which the battery used as the power source weighs 227 kilograms. The car is equipped with a 36-volt DC motor, with a maximum driving range of 80 miles, and can be charged with a standard voltage of 110 volts, with a single charge time of 6 hours. You don't need to shift gears when driving, just press the switch in reverse. The manufacturer claims that the CitiCar requires little maintenance and repair, because as an electric car, the CitiCar does not require an exhaust system or cooling system, the only thing to do is to replace the battery every three years.
Compared to ordinary cars, the CitiCar is slightly more expensive, around $4,500. But because you don't have to pay high fuel costs, it's relatively cheap to use, and a full charge usually costs only 30 to 40 cents, enough for people to drive for a day. Since a certain amount of mass production has been achieved, CitiCar is already much cheaper than the original electric car. CitiCar also opened up the market for electric vehicles with the price that the public can accept.
CitiCar was officially put into production in 1974, and it was very popular as soon as it came out, and newspapers and magazines at that time also made extensive reports. People no longer have to be uneasy because of fluctuations in oil prices, nor do they have to queue up in front of gas stations when fuel supply is tight to avoid the embarrassment of breaking down halfway. Many people pay attention to the posters posted, learn more about the performance and price of electric vehicles from car dealers, and plan how to buy them. For a time, the choice of electric vehicles or the choice of internal combustion engine vehicles has become a topic of conversation after dinner. In three years, a total of about 2,200 CitiCars have been driven from factories to urban roads, and they have even been featured in sci-fi movies starring Robert Duvall. Vanguard-Sebring also rose in the auto world, soaring to become the sixth-largest U.S. automaker by 1975.
In 1988, GM's then-CEO Smith approved the research and development plan for a practical electric vehicle. The company invested billions of dollars to jointly develop EV1 with a research and development team in California, USA. This is also the world's top automaker. Development and manufacture of automobiles. GM's research and development philosophy is: EV1 is not the first car for families or individuals, but for people who want to buy an electric car. GM sees electric vehicles as entirely new models, rather than putting batteries on conventional vehicles, where every part and every component is designed to the highest standards. With this thought in mind, and through the tireless efforts of engineers, General Motors made a splash in January 1990 when it showed its first electric concept car, the Impact, in Los Angeles. In the years that followed, engineers made a series of technical improvements to the model, culminating in what became known as the EV1.
EV1 is a two-seat structure, and the power supply is composed of 26 12-volt lead-acid batteries. The first-generation model has a driving range of 121 kilometers per charge, and the second-generation model can reach 241 kilometers. The top speed can reach 129 kilometers per hour. The EV1's start-up performance is very good, and it only takes 6.3 seconds to go from 0 to 80 kilometers per hour. Many of the technologies it used were state-of-the-art at the time, such as traction control, anti-lock brakes, an aluminum-frame body structure, and ultra-low rolling resistance tires. The drag coefficient of EV1 is only 0.195, while the drag coefficient of ordinary cars is 0.3~0.4, which is nearly half lower than the average level. General Motors said that from the core control system to the drive unit to the exterior and interior, it is all newly designed based on battery drive, and it is not a simple modification of the original internal combustion engine vehicle.
Figure: EV1 being charged
Due to the high research and development costs, coupled with the adoption of many new technologies, the EV1 is extremely expensive to manufacture. It is estimated that each EV1 could cost as much as $80,000 if the costs associated with research and development are included. Taking into account the market's acceptability, EV1 is not directly sold to the public, but is rented on a monthly basis. If customers are not satisfied, they can return the vehicle at any time. The rental fee for the EV1 is as high as $400-$600 per month, and it takes hours to charge every 80 miles, making it extremely inconvenient to use. Moreover, it is extremely impractical to have a car that can only seat 2 people.
Although General Motors has made great efforts to promote the EV1, the US federal government and local governments have also given many preferential policies, and it has also been welcomed by electric vehicle enthusiasts, but it has never been accepted by the general public. . EV1 sales have been small, from 1996 to 2000 EV1 only sold about 1110, the production and operation of this model has been in a state of serious losses. From a commercial point of view, the performance of EV1 was not satisfactory. It did not achieve the effect expected by GM, and it still failed to open up the market. In 2000, the company decided to stop manufacturing EV1 and focus on the development of fuel cell hybrid vehicles and fuel cells. Fuel cell vehicles, however, still have a small number of EV1s available for rent in California and Arizona.
But from a technical point of view, the EV1 is clearly a huge success. It has become a model for electric vehicles to replace traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, making people truly realize that the dream of driving a pollution-free and environmentally friendly electric vehicle is not far away. Many people who rent a car see this experience of driving an EV1 as a wonderful time in their lives. California has even formed a group of EV1 enthusiasts, EV1 has become a part of their lives, they like this quiet, clean and unique car. Some die-hard fans were even willing to pay GM $500 a day just to keep renting EV1s when they learned that GM was going to take back all the EV1s they leased, but they were all politely declined. To this end, they held a unique "electric car funeral" for EV1 at the Hollywood Cemetery.
Figure: Funeral for EV1
EV1 electric vehicles have not been brought to market, mainly due to the high production cost and maintenance cost, short driving range and long charging time. It takes several hours to charge every 100 kilometers. In the US, where long-distance driving is often required, the EV1 is clearly not suitable for this inherent traffic pattern. But electric car enthusiasts don't see it that way, arguing that electric cars were "murdered" by those who feared their impact on the oil and chemical industries.
As a radical environmentalist and a big fan of electric cars, American director Chris Payne made the documentary "Who Killed Electric Cars", which was released in major theaters in the United States in June 2006. The film is based on the theme of exposing the shady story of the oil company destroying electric vehicles, and records the tragic story of the electric car EV1 being tattooed and killed by the oil consortium, and GM had to stop production.
EV1 combines the concept of environmental protection, pollution-free and zero-emission with the latest technology of the automobile industry at that time. It is highly expected by General Motors, hoping to take this opportunity to create a new era of electric vehicles. But with the passage of time, various contradictions gradually emerged. People are even surprised to find that most of GM's equity owners are also shareholders of large oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and BP, and their investment in oil companies is even more than 10 times the capital granted to GM. These companies represent the huge industrial chain behind the oil and automobile markets, and automobile manufacturing is only one of the many links. Once electric vehicles become the mainstream of the market, these companies will lose much more profit than GM. As a result, the intricate entanglement of interests and the open and secret struggle of various forces eventually led to the "difficult" closure of the EV1 production line. As soon as the film was released, it became the focus of public attention.
In Europe, Germany's Daimler-Benz, the originator of automobiles, is not far behind in the research and development of electric vehicles. In just ten years, Daimler-Benz has developed a number of different types of electric vehicles. In 1972, Daimler-Benz launched the Mercedes-Benz LE306 electric car, which uses an accelerated charging battery swap system, which also achieves a very high level of safety and maneuverability. After several years of development and accumulation, Daimler-Benz continues to experiment in the field of electric drives. In 1979, the electric drive was applied to the city bus, and the generator was driven by the internal combustion engine to generate electricity, which was then supplied to the electric motor. While this falls under the category of hybrid power in the overall design, it marks another critical step in Daimler-Benz's quest for electric vehicles. In 1980, Daimler-Benz applied electric drive technology to small trucks, successfully developed the Mercedes-Benz 307E electric truck, and carried out relevant tests under urban road conditions. At the beginning of 1982, Daimler-Benz began to develop electric cars, and based on its 123 series models, it launched an electric station wagon, which is similar in appearance to other models in the series.
Figure: Mercedes-Benz electric station wagon
As early as the 1970s, France began the promotion of electric vehicles and introduced many policies to encourage the research and development of electric vehicles. In 1975, France established the "Electric Vehicle Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee". In the following decades, the committee has successively formulated plans for the promotion and application of electric vehicles in various regions, which has greatly promoted the development of electric vehicles at the regulatory level. With the encouragement of the government, the demonstration operation of electric vehicles is booming, involving various aspects such as municipal administration, public transportation, electricity, and postal services. The seaside town of La Rochelle also developed during this period as the capital of electric vehicles.”
Japan, the powerhouse of Asian automobile manufacturing, is also one of the first countries to start developing electric vehicles. Japan has a small land area and is particularly deficient in oil resources. It is almost entirely dependent on imports, so it is greatly affected by the world crude oil market. In addition, Japan has a large population density and urban pollution is relatively serious. Therefore, the Japanese government pays special attention to the research and development of electric vehicles. After the electric vehicle was officially included in the national project in 1965, Japan established the Japan Electric Vehicle Association to further promote the development of the electric vehicle industry. In 1971, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Japan formulated the "Development Plan for Electric Vehicles", which had a clear plan for the development of electric vehicles, including preferential subsidy measures for users who purchased electric vehicles. The development of electric vehicles in Japan is inseparable from the early government support.
There are many companies in Japan that conduct electric vehicle research and development. Companies such as Suzuki and Toyota have conducted trial production of electric vehicles, and Japan's Daihatsu Industry Co., Ltd. is one of the representatives. Daihatsu has been involved in the electric vehicle field since 1965 and joined the Electric Vehicle Association in 1967. From 1968 to 1969, Daihatsu made five experimental electric vehicles based on the FELLOW VAN, a light-duty vehicle that had already been mass-produced, all of which passed the power test of the Kansai Electric Power Company① in Japan, becoming a model of early Japanese electric vehicles. In 1976, Japan's Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd. began to officially produce electric vehicles, especially electric light-duty buses, which achieved great success in terms of cleanliness and environmental protection, as well as public responses.
From the 1960s to the 1980s, with the rapid development of the automobile industry, people were no longer satisfied with using cars as a simple means of transportation. The endless pollution incidents and the roller coaster-like fluctuations in oil prices also greatly stimulated the nerves of the people. It is against this background that the once troubled electric vehicle ushered in the long-lost sunshine. Automakers continue to push the development of electric vehicle technology and begin to commercialize electric vehicles. Around the world, especially in the United States, Japan and Europe, many car manufacturers have begun to get involved in the field of electric vehicles and even begin to produce electric vehicles. With the exception of the U.S., almost all automakers in Japan and Europe have their own plans for commercializing electric vehicles. Among the people, there has also been a lot of electric vehicle fever. Due to the public's concern about clean energy, governments in some countries have taken action and formulated a series of regulations to encourage the research and development of clean and non-polluting vehicles, which has also had a profound impact and promotion on the electric vehicle industry.