Remembering the EV1

Automobile Staff
Ev1 Cutaway

Saturn leased and serviced GM’s first electric car.

Though it was only available under a special lease program in warm-weather states, Saturn was called upon to lease and service General Motors’ first electric car, the EV1.

Released in 1997 with a lead-acid battery (which was quickly upgraded to a nickel-metal hydrate battery in 1999), the EV1 came equipped with modern hybrid technologies such as regenerative braking and keyless ignition. EV1 enthusiasts claim they were able to drive their first-generation EV1s a distance of 80 miles at freeway speeds, and that the electric car could reach 60 mph in eight seconds.

Judging by owner logs at, most EV1 buyers were extremely satisfied with GM’s first electric car, saying it was “fast” and “convenient”. Some even wrote they would “drive it the rest of my life” if they could. However, the EV1 vehicles and its developing technology were only available by short-term lease and could not be purchased after the leases expired.

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