In their push towards zero-emissions, General Motors likely wants to change the conversation around the EV1.
General Motors has had a complicated history with electric vehicle development. The GM Impact electric concept car was revealed in 1990 to much acclaim. It had a very unique look in both the exterior and interior. The car was small but sporty compared to other electric vehicles at the time.
The warm reception of the GM concept car partially inspired the California Air Resource Board (CARB) zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate. By 2003, 10% of models being marketed in California would need to be ZEVs. The Impact certainly lived up to its name.
By the middle of the 1990's, GM announced it would be bringing the Impact to market as the EV1. It would be the first mass-produced electric vehicle put on the market since the early 20th century. Other ZEVs announced at the time were conversions of existing ICE vehicles. But the peppy EV-1 was built from the ground up as an electric car.
The EV1 was only available as a lease and was primarily a test-bed vehicle. Between 1996 and 1999, GM produced 1,117 of the cars. In 2003, GM CEO Rick Wagoner announced the cancellation of the EV1 program.
The cars were returned and crushed to great outrage by owners. A few dozen EV1 shells survived, as did a few hundred Chevy S-10 EVs and Rav4 EVs. But most electrics from this period met a similar fate. Later, in a 2006 interview, Rick Wagoner referred to this decision as his biggest regret.
AV1: Autonomous Vehicle 1?
Since the release of the documentary Who Killed The Electric Car, the EV1 name has carried a lot of baggage. But GM is literally a different company today. Before the launch of the Bolt EV, Mark Reuss, GM head of product development said:
The people who make GM change over time. Many leave, many come, many have seen many times. The people who let EV1 perish are not here. The people who make Volts, Bolts, etc are here engineering and making them. While we work for an entity or holding company which is similar — the people who define the entity are completely different. Time to think of GM as who it IS, not who it WAS. We are not an ‘IT’.
A video posted to social media on fathers day might be a first move to re-embrace the EV1 name. In it Mark Reuss discusses the importance of the Impact concept and what it meant to his father, Lloyd Reuss.
The next move, caught by GM Inside News, was a patent for a product named 'AV1'. The patent was filed in June, 2018 by General Motors' Timothy Gorbatoff and Lauren Latimer. Latimer is notable as being Cruise Automation's Copyright Agent.
Cruise is General Motors autonomous vehicle "start up". GM formally acquired Cruise in 2016, and the company has since made significant progress towards fully autonomous vehicle deployment. Using custom Bolt EVs, they plan to have a commercialized self-driving fleet on the road at some point in 2019.
The company may ultimately choose not to go with the name 'AV1'. But the decision to register the trademark isn't a coincidence. If they do so, it will be a deliberate attempt to tie their first mass-produced autonomous vehicle (AV1) with their first mass-produced electric vehicle (EV1).
Source: GM Inside News