EV1 Chronicles
EV1 Diary

What's New?

EV1 Club
Web Page

Charger List

More EV Links

Home Page

Home Page

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 have met!

Chapter 1 -- Pioneers... the ones with arrows in their backs

The Pioneers Band Together The Second Year
  • 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!
A Red Letter Day
  • 6/27/98 - Saturn and GM host another barbecue and cookout for the EV1 Club and potential EV1 buyers, and to celebrate Kris Trexler's successful LA-to-Michigan "Charge Across America" trip.

    Saturn also delivered our second EV1 from the back of the EV1 Road Show van! We get to be the first two-EV1 household! Why did we do it? Here are some of our reasons.

Chapter 2 -- Life with 2 EV1's

  • 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 pack.

  • 11/30-12/1 - Tour of GM! (Details to follow)

  • 12/5/98 - 1999 EV1 Rollout Event (reported on the EV1 Club's web page).

  • 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 3 -- Life with a 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!
Chapter 4 -- Life With *Only* the NiMH EV1

  • 3/2/2000 - The bomb is dropped! After checking out a fire which was probably started due to an overheated charger port on a Gen I EV1, GM has decided to take the prudent route and pull all Gen I cars. We delivered our car to a Saturn dealer on 3/4 to comply with the safety recall, so the mileage on our counter for car #2 might be the final entry for it, but we still have our fingers crossed and now we're waiting to see what options we might have.

    In the mean time we might have to start burning gasoline (ugh). So far this year, we've managed to completely avoid buying gasoline. Looks like we'll have to break that string...

Copyright 1997-2000 by Dave & Jean Kodama Email: kodama@alumni.caltech.edu