1999 EV1 Rollout Event

Los Angeles Westin Bonaventure Hotel
Dec. 5, 1998

[Left] GM ATV engineer and EV1 owner Mark Selogie takes a curious guest through a display of the smaller, lighter Gen 2 electronics in the 1999 EV1. Mark and his team are already at work on Gen 3.

Originally billed as an EV1 Club Meeting & 1999 EV1 Test Drive event, the December 5th event turned out to be a well-attended, high-energy introduction for the 1999 EV1 product line! Besides some 75 current EV1 owners, more than 300 guests and prospects showed up for the good food, displays of EV1 technology, and of course, to see and test drive the 1999 EV1's.

The program was emceed by Rick Ostrov (right), Saturn EV1 Marketing Manager, and included speakers Frank Pereira, Ed Begley, Jr., Alexandra Paul, John Cox, and Lynn Edgerton.

Frank Pereira, GM ATV Brand Manager, and newly elected chairman/president of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Americas, talked briefly about the broad charter of the ATV at GM - the development of all transportation technologies for the vehicles of the future.

These include pure electric vehicles, hybrids designs, and fuels cell vehicles, which conventionally are viewed as a natural progression of development. But he also hinted at a recent renewed realization that the real future is in pure electric vehicles and that GM has a renewed commitment to pure electric technology.

To close, Pereira enthusiastically emphasized that GM is in the lead and affirmed that GM will continue to be in the lead in EV technology.  

For the benefit of the would-be EV1 owners, actor/environmentalists Ed Begley, Jr. and Alexandra Paul, each in turn, gave high energy testimonials for their EV1's and talked about the important environmental benefits of electric vehicles.
There was no doubt that each also have fun with their car! Alexandra sang a song written about the EV1 to the tune of "Jingle Bells":

EV sales, EV sales, EV all the way
Oh what fun it is to drive my EV in LA

Dashing past the Saabs,
Porsches and Chevrolets
Keeping the air clean
And park and charge for free (ha ha ha)

Bells while backing ring
Making turns so tight
Oh what fun it is is to drive
my EV1 so right!

Next John Cox, EV1 Club Chairman spoke of the great energy and support EV1 Club members have provided to make progress in the publicity, political, and infrastructure areas as well as to create the email and web page mechanisms which provide feedback to GM.

He noted the level of the club members' commitment by calling attention to the Northern California contingent, including Michael Schwabe, president of the Northern California EV1 Club. They weren't able to drive their EV1's here, but they drove rental ones from the airport to get to this event!

The '99 EV1 Model Changes

The 1999 EV1's will come in two basic versions, both looking from the outside just like 1997 model (same shape, same color options). The two versions are the NiMH battery version and the Advanced Lead-Acid battery version with the following common features:

  • Smaller, lighter electronics under the hood.
  • Thermal management system (heating or cooling) for both types of batteries using the existing heat pump.
  • Heating system adds a resistive element for improved cabin heating.
  • Improved suspension (definitely noticeable during the test drive)
  • Quieter HVAC system.
  • HVAC system may be activated during charging without using preconditioning.
  • Reduced motor/gear noise.
  • Air bag deactivation switch option.
  • New upholstery.
John also took the opportunity to display the signs which will be installed along freeways and major highways near all new public charging sites to guide EV drivers to the chargers. These prominent white-on-blue signs should be a great help to drivers as well as raise public awareness that EV's are REAL.

Price and Availability

Potential EV1 Lessees! Please note that the information given below may be different for your particular situation. Consult your EV1 specialist at Saturn to insure that you get current information.

The basic (California) lease costs set for 1999 are:

  • NiMH - $499/mo
  • Advanced Lead-acid - $424/mo
  • 1997 Demo - $349/mo
Lease costs include a charger, with standard installation set at $500 through an arrangement with participating utilities.

NiMH vehicle availability will be limited by production capacity and allocated as follows:

  • The majority of the first vehicles will be allocated to current owners who will be given an option to terminate leases and switch to a new NiMH lease.

    These opportunities will be offered based on length of ownership, and have a 30-day window for the decision. Those opting not to "upgrade" at this time will go to the bottom of the waiting list. Those switching to NiMH will be subject to a one-time charge which will be detailed by EV1 Specialists.

  • Some vehicles will be set aside for evaluation by the press, high-visibility clients, high-tech companies, etc.

  • Some vehicles will be available to new owners in order to feel out the market demand.
NiMH vehicles will be available in January. Advanced lead-acid battery vehicles will be available at the end of the first quarter of 1999 (subject to manufacturing realities).

  The final speaker was Lynn Edgerton from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), who thanked GM for making EV's happen. She also took the opportunity to emphasize the point that California needs Zero Emission Vehicles to make clean air happen!
EV Specialist Rob Randall's talk "My Day With a NiMH EV1" was bumped due to time constraints, but he's on notice that we want to hear it at a future club meeting! Ed.

The formal presentations concluded with the delivery of cars to two new owners, both working at Digital Revolution in Santa Monica. (Congratulations!)

And then all adjourned to line up for more food and the NiMH EV1 test drives (the squeal of tires was often heard)...

Yes, NiMH cars are really here! After hundreds of test rides, they still had energy to spare!

What's the word on the batteries?

The NiMH batteries, as have been hinted at for months, yield real world ranges of 100 to 140 miles, and the new advanced lead acid batteries are reported to yield 65-95 miles, some 20-30% improvement over the Delphi batteries in current use. Neither battery type changes the acceleration capability of the 1999 EV1 compared to the 1997 model.

And for current EV1 owners wondering if they can use the new lead-acid batteries... the answer is currently NO. Although the new batteries are physically compatible, the charging software is written for the 1999 vehicles and presume the presence of the active thermal management system. To use the new batteries in the 1997 cars will require the older charging software to be modified, and this is not currently available.

NiMH module sits on display in front of a Delphi lead-acid module.

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