Wednesday, March 16, 2005

'Pioneers' never get their due

GM has terminated their innovative electric vehicle program--EV1--this week. Pulled the plug, as it were.

GM produced the car originally in 1996 and leased their production run of 800 vehicles to residents of Southern California and Phoenix. Provisions of the lease stated that at the end of the 3-yr term all vehicles would revert back to GM.

The vehicles have spent the last 6 years at a storage facility in Burbank awaiting their final disposition. It came this week, when GM transported the vehicles from Burbank to their desert proving grounds in Mesa, AZ this week. Presumably, most of the cars will end up being crushed and materials sent off for recycling.

Worshipers of all-things Environmental are naturally upset at seeing the avant-garde EV1 sent off to it's final resting place. The car was, at the time, an innovative attempt at bringing electric powered vehicles to market:

The protesters, mainly clean-air advocates who decry GM's pulling the plug on the EV1, held a monthlong round-the clock vigil at the storage facility in California. They say the auto giant should allow drivers to buy the EV1s for private use rather than scrapping them.

GM spokesman Dave Barthmuss makes the point that most environment-worshippers always seem to miss:

"God love these people," Barthmuss said of the protesters. "We appreciate their enthusiasm, and we appreciate their loyalty, but there just wasn't enough business to sustain the EV1 over the long term."GM spent more than $1 billion developing and marketing the EV1, he said, but the public response was disappointing.

"Eight-hundred vehicles and $1 billion spent in four years does not a business make," Barthmuss said. "We have to make vehicles that sell in heavy volumes to stay in business."

I've run into many pro-environment (nay, anti-petroleum) technology advocates and they all insist that transition to things like electric/hybrid and alternative-fuels is something that ought to happen now rather than accepting that only when the market catches up to the vision, will the transition take off.

"Eight-hundred vehicles and $1 billion spent in four years does not a business make."

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