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One of the strange things about the EV1 is how it seems to break down the normal tendency of people to ignore each other. When we drive somewhere, the appliances don't come over to look at the car* but people sometimes do! Complete strangers suddenly come over to ask questions, so here are the common ones...

* The GM ad running in Southern California is a Lucas special effects creation showing the electric appliances of a house running outside to see the car drive up.

  • How do you like the car?

    We like it very much! We had some initial problems, but these now seem to be behind us. Plugging the car into the charger every night has become second nature, and it seems to be more convenient than making that extra trip to go to the gas station.

  • How far can you go on a charge? ... and also ... Can you drive to Las Vegas with it?

    We haven't done detailed calculations yet, but we are currently (after about a month) getting an estimated range of 60-70 miles. This is figured from the miles driven and the estimated remaining mileage figure calculated by the car. Obviously it would take a long time to get to Las Vegas! It's too bad we can't tap some of that power they're using for just lights in Las Vegas!

    UPDATE- See our detailed range graph.

  • How fast does it go? I think people are still thinking about golf-carts when they ask this.

    The computer limits the top speed to 80 mph, but a modified version hit 183. The 80 mph top speed might be just barely enough for driving on the freeways around here! A future model that could make it to Las Vegas would have to do at least 90 to keep up with traffic!

    In terms of acceleration, officially GM claims 0-60 mph in "under 9 seconds", but here are some independently published results (we haven't tried it ourselves):

    • Popular Science (4/97): 0-60 mph: 8.1 sec. (0-30- 3.1 seconds)
    • Popular Mechanics (7/97): 0-60 mph: 7.6 sec. (1/4 mile- 16.2 seconds, 78.0 mph)

  • How often do you charge the car?

    We always leave the car plugged in when it's at home. When a charger is available at a public facility we also plug in just to "top it off."

  • How long does it take to charge the car?

    About 3 hours using the charger installed at the house if it is completely empty. Usually we don't run the car all the way down, so it takes much less time than that. For more info, take the charger tour.

  • How much is it costing you to drive around?

    We haven't worked out the numbers as we haven't gotten our electric bill yet. Also, the charger is still (as of 1/23) hooked to our normal residential meter. When the City of Cerritos gets around to inspecting the setup, the charger will run off a separate meter which will give us lower cost electricity during off-peak hours.

    5/23/97 Update - Our first electric bill (more details) indicates that it is costing about $0.50/day, using off-peak charging.

    For information regarding electricity rates in Southern California (in particular for EVs), check out the Time of Use (TOU) rates listed in a message forwarded to me by Bob Siebert.

  • How do you tell how fast you're driving?

    We usually turn the car on to demonstrate the answer this question. This comes up because there are no traditional dials on the dashboard. Everything is digitally displayed, and this display is in the center of the dashboard, right under the windshield.

  • Do you work for Southern Cal Edison?

    NO! Why are people asking this? Is Edison giving cars away to their employees? No one has asked us if we work for GM or Saturn.

  • How many cars have been sold?

    The following rough figures (as of mid January) were provided by Bob Siebert, who attended a meeting of the EVAOSC (Electric Vehicle Association of Southern California) at which Saturn representatives were present:

    Sold: low 90's
    Committed: 58
    Serious inquiries in process: 120

    Subsequent updates provided by Saturn personnel:

    • 2/10/97 - 129
    • 4/12/97 - 173
    • 6/21/97 - 203

  • Why didn't they put solar cells on the car to charge the batteries?

    The short answer is that it would take WAY too long to charge the batteries! For the long answer, I asked Bob Siebert, who installs solar electric systems, to run the detailed solar charger calculations.

  • Where's the glove compartment?

    There isn't any! I guess the designers figured it doesn't get cold enough in Southern California to require gloves, so we don't need a glove compartment!

  • How does it feel to drive a silent car?

    Actually, the car is not TOTALLY silent. In a quiet place you can hear a small coolant pump running. And if you have the vent fan running, then that becomes the loudest sound (like your PC with its cooling fan). When accelerating, the car has a distinct whine (Jean says like the Batmobile!). On the freeway, none of this makes any difference because noise from the tires and wind dominates. And if you're gridlocked on the freeway, the car next to you is making enough noise to cover the lack of noise from the EV1.

  • This one was submitted by another EV1 owner, Margaret Cheng, an SCE employee:
    Do you get free electricity for charging?

    The answer is no! I am paying the same EV rate as anyone who wishes to get an EV and sign up for this special rate. With this rate, if you charge at night, it costs only about one third of the regular residential rate.

Sometimes we get some pretty strange reactions...

  • Upon being told that he was looking at an electric car...

    ... So how many cylinders does it have?

  • From a woman looking behind the driver's seat...

    The rear seat sure looks cramped.

    [The EV1 is a two-seater with an 8" ledge behind the seats to hold small items.]

  • After parking the car at a shopping center...

    What's everybody looking at? We were driving behind you and saw everybody looking over.

Copyright 1997-1999 by Dave & Jean Kodama Email: kodama@alumni.caltech.edu