Putting our impressions down on this web page all started
with simply keeping Bob Siebert of Energy Efficiency
updated on our progress as we went through the process of
trying to get a car, so the first part of this story is in
the form of email exchanged with Bob.
Note: As you read this, you will see that we had some
initial problems with our car. However, this does not seem
to be the general experience of most other EV1 owners we
Chapter 1 -- Pioneers... the ones with arrows in their backs
The Pioneers Band Together
The Second Year
A Red Letter Day
Chapter 2 -- Life with 2 EV1's
- 12/5/97 - EV1 birthday party thrown by GM/Saturn!
- 12/15/97 - Jean's company, Arcxel (now known as Vixel)
moves down the road, putting her out of range of a
round-trip without a charge. Jean campaigns for a
charger at work!
- 3/10-3/14/98 - GM borrows our car along with a bunch of
others to see how the EV1 does in the real world.
- 4/4/98 - Our friend Bob Siebert gets an EV1!
- 5/98 - EV1 club member Kris Trexler travels >3000 miles
from LA to Michigan in his EV1
- 5/98 - EV1 club member Marvin Rush produces and runs
his own radio ads
- 5/27/98 - Our EV1 passes its 20,000 mile checkup with
flying colors (see range data).
6/25/98 - Jean's company Vixel finishes
installation of a private EV1 charger for her. The
charger is set between two parking spaces, so Jean's
encouraging other employees to take the plunge by
offering free test drives!
Chapter 3 -- Life with a NiMH EV1
- 7/8/98 - The range of the new EV1 seems to be just
a bit less than the older one. Perhaps things will
even out after the battery pack break-in period.
- 7/16/98 - The tire jinx strikes again! The red EV1
tire pressure light comes on (well at least it does
work!). This time, it's a puncture that didn't seal
properly, resulting in a slow leak of about 1 PSI/day.
It's possible it was pre-existing since
the tire was noted to be bit low at final checkout
before delivery. The tire was replaced by Saturn,
at no extra cost, as part of the lease coverage.
- 7/27/98 - After a bit more than 24,000 miles on the
silver-blue EV1, a major failure! While on the
freeway, suddenly the car lost power, but
fortunately, I was able to limp to the next off ramp
and off the freeway. The second experience with the
tow service was not very impressive. Too bad I
didn't have my camera available to take a picture of
the tow truck operator sitting on the road beside
the EV1, reading the EV1 manual section which
describes the towing procedure.
This time it was NOT the battery pack, which was
still showing over 50% charge left. Apparently
something in the PIM (power inverter module)
electronics failed. This was promptly diagnosed and
replaced by Saturn -- another reason to be glad that
the EV1 is leased and not sold.
- 11/98 - The silver car's battery pack finally gives up!
After just reaching 28,000 miles, the pack finally died,
stranding Jean a couple of miles from work. She could
have made it to the charger there in reduced performance
mode, but she was hoping to minimize stress on the pack,
so she requested and got a quick tow (this one was done by
a competent tow truck operator).
Unfortunately, however, the diagnosis by J.R. (EV1
technician at Saturn and well-known battery magician)
was that at least 10 modules were dead or marginal.
Since nearly all of the modules were of the same age
(only two had been previously replaced), we could
expect more failures in the near future, so the best
course of action was to replace the entire battery
- 11/30-12/1 - Tour of GM! (Details to follow)
- 12/5/98 -
1999 EV1 Rollout Event (reported on the EV1 Club's
- 1/99-2/99 - Test Driving a NiMH EV1
for a Week!
- 8/18/99 - Accident! (43,439 miles)
This morning's commute ended up
with a small accident on a surface street. A driver
of a light pickup truck darted out from a
side-street, then stopped directly in front of us
after realizing he couldn't complete his left
turn. As a result, the left front nose of the
EV1 slammed into the driver's side of the truck
into the extended cab section. On the EV1's end
of things, the corner and hood panels were
cracked, but the cop that responded to the
accident scene declared the EV1 the winner since
the truck had a fairly deep dent in it's side.
Fortunately, the other driver admitted fault and
his insurance company took care of things right
away. The EV1 was towed to a body shop which had
EV1 experience within 90 minutes, so I didn't even
have time to take any pictures!
As accidents go, this one was pretty painless
since no one was hurt, the other driver admitted
fault and his insurance company covered
everything. More important, the EV1 was put
back together as good as new, even though it did
take about 3 weeks.
Chapter 4 -- Life With *Only* the NiMH EV1
11/9/99 -- Life with a brand new NiMH Gen II (1999
model) EV1 starts with the end for our car #1,
turned in a month before the end of its 3 year
lease, with 47,402 miles, and
still going strong with over 19,000 miles on its
second battery pack.
In return, we got one of the first NiMH Gen II EV1's
released. Since the color is the same as the Gen I
EV1 it replaces, and virtually everything inside and
out is the same as the 1997 models, at a glance it
looks like we still have the same car.
It turns out that when driving the cars,
because things are so similar,
it's a good thing EV1's have range estimates
displayed in miles. Now when we switch cars, we have
to think twice about which car we're in. If the
EV1's had only the energy bargraph, we'd have to
always be calculating how much range we have left.
By the way, the range gage seems more accurate than
before. I don't know if that's just more refined
software, or it's a result of having a different
type of batteries.
12/11/99 - Battery problems! With 111 miles
traveled for the day, we got the dreaded "Battery Life"
and "Reduced Performance" alarms. Fortunately, a
nearby public charger (Saturn dealership) saved
us frm a tow -- a good reason for the public charging
infrastructure to continue to exist even though
electric vehicle ranges are expected to improve.
Even though we'll be charging less often at these
chargers, we'll still be supporting the businesses
that put these chargers in!
12/25/99 - Since problem batteries don't really cause
a problem until the pack is depleted down below 50%,
we elected to continue to drive the Gen II car until
it was convenient for us to get it serviced. This
is yet another good reason to have more range
than you might normally need!
Servicing the car in this case turned
out very well for us with GM's cooperation.
Instead of leaving the car at a Saturn dealer where
it would have been picked up for servicing at a
central GM facility, we just left it for pickup at
a charger at LAX as we went on vacation. We got
back after the new year to find the car back at
LAX with batteries replaced (1 bad module, 2 marginal
ones replaced), fully charged. That's about as
convenient as servicing gets!
1/27/2000 - Another battery failure, this time in
the red car. Well, not bad, considering all 26
modules were original and the miles on them were
now at 19,040. Again, we made it to Saturn of
Cerritos without a tow, and the service department
immediately checked it in for servicing and we
drove out with a loaner EV1. Next day, our car
was ready to go. If you have to have a problem
it doesn't get much easier than that, especially
when no more money comes out of your pocket!