EV1 Cut Out Sketch Shows The Car As A Work Of Art

GM EV1 Cut Out


GM EV1 Cut Out

Peeling away the layers of the world’s first mass-produced electric car.

Our friends at Motor1 got their hands on a cool drawing of the world’s first mass-market electric car. Ok, sure, some people will say that the EV1 never sold enough units to really be mass-market, but for our purposes, let’s just say it was, mmmkay? That’ll let us focus on the coolness of the image here, including the powertrain and two-seat passenger cabin.

Turns out, artist David Kimble was given access to the horribly named Impact concept (which became the EV1) starting in 1993 and drew these cutaway sketches based on visits to multiple GM locations as well as photographs shot by Neil Nissing. The sketch you see above (and can see in larger form over at Motor1) is based on the final, production version EV1. That electric pioneer came to market in Southern California and Arizona in 1996 at a cost of about $55,000 in today’s dollars. If you leased on (there was no purchase option), you got an EV with a range of 60 miles thanks to lead-acid battery technology. A NiMH version with a longer range was introduced in 1999.

Today, the EV1 is mostly known for being crushed by GM (see the film Who Killed The Electric Car?) and is now a museum piece. If you can’t see it in the movies or behind a velvet rope, take a good look at the cool sketch above.

Here is a snippet of the piece surrounding the sketch and the EV1 by Chris Smith:

Peeling away the layers of the world’s first mass-produced electric car.

EV1 Alongside Chevy Volt

It’s 2017 and electric vehicles are on the cusp of going mainstream. Nearly 625,000 EVs and plug-in hybrids are already on the roads of America, and with advancements in battery technology regularly chipping away at range anxiety and charge times, now is the time to remember the car that took the pioneering step into the EV realm. We’re speaking of the General Motors EV1, and as we continue our series featuring the exquisite automotive artwork of Mr. David Kimble, there’s never been a better time to take an exclusive look at this pioneering machine. Even in print form, the EV1 is something special.

That’s because Kimble didn’t do a single EV1 cutaway sketch. Beginning in 1993, the automotive artist had multiple visits with GM to capture the Impact concept car, its components, and the production-ready EV1. Keen to show the world that its vision of an electric car wasn’t a glorified golf kart, GM opened the proverbial floodgates for Kimble and photographer Neil Nissing. The pair shot complete cars and battery packs in Detroit, electric motors and components in Anderson, Indiana, and the power control system in Torrance, California.

Mind you, these were just for the 50 test cars built from the Impact concept – when the EV1 was production ready, Kimble did it all over again. Those efforts led to multiple sketches that detail both the car and its powertrain. As such, the cutaway featured here is the final product of all those efforts – a two-layer illustration of the EV1 featuring the powertrain mostly visible through the interior and body.

Check out the full article at Motor1 here.

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26 Comments on "EV1 Cut Out Sketch Shows The Car As A Work Of Art"

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Boris Domken

It was during the short period of time (ended in 2003)when car manufacturers started a REAL competition to provide decent ranged electric cars.

*Maybe* they will *really* compete soon… Thanks to Tesla.


Those ranges are calculated using the old method (LA4 and other pre-five cycle). Those produced massively inflated range figures, rather similar to what you still see in Europe.

These are the kind of ratings that had Nissan claiming the original LEAF had a range of “96-110 miles” when the real range was 73 miles.

The EV1, even with the last battery pack version didn’t go nearly as far as you see there.

On another note I saw a RAV 4 EV driving around today. And not the new one, but the circa-2000 version. There are a couple in my area with upgrade battery packs.


But that picture also says it uses 91 kWh per 100 miles, which, with 16.5 kWh, would translate to 18 miles of EV range.

so I’d take those numbers with a ton of salt.


You’re confusing MPGe with kWh.


There is a less insane set of figures on there too:


85mpge, 55 miles total range. 40kWh/100mi.

These are probably closer to accurate. And at least make sense.


Boris Domken said:

“It was during the short period of time (ended in 2003)when car manufacturers started a REAL competition to provide decent ranged electric cars.”

Hmmm, I dunno how “real” that competition was, given that those were all test market cars, and they could never have been sold at a price which would have actually covered costs, let alone made a profit. Contrary to what “Who Killed the Electric Car?” repeatedly claims, battery tech in that era was wholly inadequate for a mass produced car. Batteries were much too expensive and had an energy density too low (that is, the batteries were too large) for a small car like the EV1, leaving it with no back seat at all and little luggage space. The RAV4 actually made more sense because it was a roomier vehicle, so putting in a large battery pack didn’t make it so cramped.

The reason why no company like Tesla sprang up to sell production PEVs (Plug-in EVs) before 2008, was because it took that long for batteries to improve sufficiently to make PEVs even marginally profitable, and even then only in the high-end “supercar” category.


There was also the little matter of GM buying the intellectual property and patent rights on the Nickle Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery, from Energy Conversion Devices (ECD), that enabled the EV1 Gen 2 to go well over 100 mile range. ECD thought they were partnering with a company that would take their technology to mass market. Then after GM and others secured relief from the CARB EV regulations as the hype for fuel cells swelled, GM sold those NiMH rights to Shell, who cut off access to them for battery electric vehicles, instead only licensing them for hybrid electrics. Shocker! An oil company didn’t want to help the nascent EV industry. Who woulda thunk it.

NiMH gave automakers the ability to build a LEAF type city/county EV, but the fossil fuel interests made sure that never happened. NiMH was less energy dense and heavier than Lithium, but it was much more affordable, so it could have been used for some practical cars.


They sold the rights to Texaco which became part of Chevron.


Oh yeah, thanks, I mixed up Shell and Chevron. Figured didn’t need to include Texaco since they got bought out.


GM betrayed the founder of Ovonics, he was led to believe they would stay the course on EVs.

Roy LeMeur

“some people will say that the EV1 never sold enough units to really be mass-market,”

Um… No EV1s were -ever- sold. Only leased to folks who had to live in a certain market and jump through all kinds of hoops to be able to lease one.

Only two (AFAIK) still exist in unmolested form.

One is owned by the Smithsonian, and one was stashed away by Francis Ford Coppola, that one can be seen here-

Start at 12:50



Huh, I was not aware that it is a functional car. I wonder how he came to posses it.


It was the one and only EV-1 to slip through the cracks on the GM repo-crush program. A glitch in the system or the ignition switch – as it were.


Roy, Thanks for the great link.


I may have dreamt it up, but 1998 or so I remember GM having an EV1 cut in half lengthwise on display at the auto show in Harrisburg PA. I’ve tried to find picture of this before with no luck.


Im afraid the french had won the price of the first mas produced (and actually sold) modern electric car with the Citroen AX Electrique. He was a 1986 concept and produced and sold in 1993:

It was followed by other models from Citroen, Peugeot and Renault. Many of them are still around. All in all this first EV wave in france saw about 10.000-20.000 EVs as far as I know.


There’s no point saying it’s a NEV with no proof, like the Enfield 8000 wiki. The AX Electrique is a supermini, larger than a Heavy Quadricycle – the EU equivalent of a NEV.

NEVs are also speed limited at 25 mph, the AX electrique had a top speed of 70, 60 mile range and was capable of rapid charging.


Specs listed at the link below claim a top speed of 57 MPH for the Citroën AX Electrique. Claiming this is a highway-capable passenger car seems to be stretching the term.

I also question that it was actually mass produced. The lack of data on the car may perhaps indicate it was merely a test market vehicle.

I’m with Unlucky here; it’s likely most or all of the “10.000-20.000 EVs” from France which Cavaron mentions were more properly described as NEVs or motorized quadricycles… not full-fledged, street-legal, highway-capable passenger cars.



Addendum: Ah, I found a better source of info for this NiCad battery, DC motor electric vehicle. It says “Citroën produced a total of 374 AX Electriques from December 1993 to 1996” (source below).

So, as I guessed, a test market car. I am impressed that they achieved a top speed of nearly 60 MPH with a DC motor and, from the description linked below, apparently no transmission. But without a modern AC motor controller, the energy efficiency at top speed was likely pretty lousy.



These early european EV’s, Citroen AX electrique and Renault Clio Electrique, were registered as normal cars and are legal on european highways. There still are some of them in use.


To add to this, Renault had been building electric versions of the minivan Kangoo around from 1998 up to 2005. About 500 of them were build if I remember correctly.
They were equipped with a Saft Nicad battery pack and there are still a good number of these cars in use (including mine, from 2002). There was also a version with a range extender (BMW i3 Rex style) to add 110 miles to the range. EV range is about 50 miles with cruising speed of 60 miles/h.


It’s an NEV. For proof look at the specs. I did, that’s why I said it.


50 miles. 60mph tops. And that’s that’s optimistic given it had 11kW power output, 14.75HP. That’s NEV performance.

And besides, it wasn’t any more mass produced than any of the cars before it listed.


60 mph is not NEV speed, which is generally capped at 30 mph or so. 50 miles is not NEV range, which is usually less than 20 miles. The numbers produced, on the other hand, do say that the Citroen was not a mass produced car by most standards.


As I said, the figure of 60mph is surely optimistic with under 15HP. The Th!nk City has 3x the HP and still barely gets to 60. And it takes 7 seconds just to get to 30!

And if you think this goes 50 miles, give it a shot, see how far it goes when you drive it at normal speeds instead of NEV speeds.

With BS 60mph figure or without it’s still an NEV. 15HP.