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The General Motors EV1 was an electric car produced and leased by the General Motors Corporation from 1996 to 1999. It was the first mass-produced and purpose-designed electric vehicle of the modern era from a major automaker, and the first GM car designed to be an electric vehicle from the outset.
The decision to mass-produce an electric car came after GM received a favorable reception for its 1990 Impact electric concept car, upon which the design of the EV1 drew heavily. Inspired partly by the Impact's perceived potential for success, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) subsequently passed a mandate that made the production and sale of zero-emission vehicles a requirement for the seven major automakers selling cars in the United States to continue to market their vehicles in California. The EV1 was made available through limited lease-only agreements, initially to residents of the cities of Los Angeles, California, and Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. EV1 lessees were officially participants in a "real-world engineering evaluation" and market study into the feasibility of producing and marketing a commuter electric vehicle in select U.S. markets undertaken by GM's Advanced Technology Vehicles group. The cars were not available for purchase, and could be serviced only at designated Saturn dealerships. Within a year of the EV1's release, leasing programs were also launched in San Francisco and Sacramento, California, along with a limited program in the state of Georgia.
While customer reaction to the EV1 was positive, GM believed that electric cars occupied an unprofitable niche of the automobile market, and ending up crushing all their electric cars, regardless of protesting customers. Furthermore, an alliance of the major automakers litigated the CARB regulation in court, resulting in a slackening of the ZEV stipulation, permitting the companies to produce super-low-emissions vehicles, natural gas vehicles, and hybrid cars in place of pure electrics. The EV1 program was subsequently discontinued in 2002, and all cars on the road were repossessed. Lessees were not given the option to purchase their cars from GM, which cited parts, service, and liability regulations. The majority of the repossessed EV1s were crushed, and the rest delivered to museums and educational institutes with their electric powertrains deactivated, under the agreement that the cars were not to be reactivated and driven on the road.
On February 7, 2002, GM Advanced Technology Vehicles brand manager Ken Stewart notified lessees that GM would be removing the cars from the road, contradicting an earlier statement that GM would in fact not be "taking cars off the road from customers." Drivers feared that their working cars would be destroyed after repossession.
EV1s reclaimed by GM after leasing was not renewed stored at GM's training center in Burbank, California.
Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence in industrial design is a policy of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time. Planned obsolescence has potential benefits for a producer because to obtain continuing use of the product the consumer is under pressure to purchase again, whether from the same manufacturer (a replacement part or a newer model), or from a competitor which might also rely on planned obsolescence.
In some cases, deliberate deprecation of earlier versions of a technology is used to reduce ongoing support costs, especially in the software industry. Though this could be considered planned obselescence, it differs from the classic form in that the consumer is typically made aware of the limited support lifetime of the product as part of their licensing agreement.