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Jan. 4: General Motors unveils the EV1 on this date in 1996

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Jan. 4: General Motors unveils the EV1 on this date in 1996

By the time General Motors revealed the production version of the EV1, its first purpose-built electric car, on this date in 1996, the disputes that would lead to GM pulling it off the road and crushing most of the EV1s it had built eight years later were already in play. From inside GM, the EV1 was a money pit, with customer research showing little demand for a two-seat car with 80 miles of range that would sticker at $35,000 — well below the $80,000 it cost GM to build one. The EV1's entire existence had been mandated by California pollution control officials; when GM and other automakers convinced them to ease the rules, GM stopped building EV1s. As Chris Paine's documentary "Who Killed The Electric Car?" showed, GM's decisions punished the EV enthusiasts who could have helped the company develop better vehicles. In 2012, automakers sold about 50,000 electric and plug-in hybrids in the United States, a small downpayment on bigger sales in the future. If you want to see an EV1, there's a copy in the Smithsonian, with the rest of America's extinct species.