Who Killed the Electric Car

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As a result of their development of a solar powered vehicle for a competition, General Motors decided in the late 1980's to develop a fully functional and affordable electric powered car. The resulting vehicles were high powered, zero emission, but could only run for approximately 100 miles on a charge, which is sufficient for most day to day driving. Because they knew that the technology was feasible and because of the global warming phenomenon resulting from the uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels, California state regulators passed the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate in 1990, requiring all auto makers to offer for sale in the state zero emission vehicles. The electric car was the most promising technology at the time. It was argued that…show more content…
GM initially installed poor quality Delco lead acid batteries in the EV1 and produced advertising that EV advocates argued was aimed at repelling public interest.

Car companies argued that using coal for electric vehicle power would produce worse emissions than using petroleum. Energy experts dismissed these arguments as the electric drive train is inherently more efficient (does not idle or have a poor efficiency driving mode), and uses regenerative braking to recharge the batteries. EVs are less polluting even if the electricity comes from coal fired power plants. Furthermore, the emissions of coal fired power plants can be controlled and regulated in ways not possible for vehicles, as the number power plants is miniscule compared to the number of gas powered vehicles.

The car companies also argued that they would not be able to technically and financially meet the requirements of the ZEV Mandate. Car and oil companies joined the Federal Government to sue the State of California and overturn the ZEV Mandate.

From 1999 to 2004 Alan Lloyd was chairman of CARB and he presided over changes to the ZEV Mandate. He strongly influenced the weakening of the Mandate's requirements on the automakers, gave favour to unproven hydrogen fuel cell technology and sidelined battery electric

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