Mark and Lloyd Reuss on EV1 and its Impact

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On driving the EV1:

Mark: It must have been a challenge to build because it did have to have all those customer requirements like air conditioning and power steering, but when you drove it, and it had all those things, it could do everything conventional cars could do, except it did it in near-total silence.

Lloyd: Yes, in fact, we were concerned about that. There was almost no audio feedback, or minimal at best. And we didn’t know how people would feel about that.

Mark: Fans of the car loved it, as it turned out.

Lloyd: They did.

But then, fans of the car loved nearly everything about it.

On the end of EV1 production:

Mark: It was tough at the end to learn that its run was over and most of the cars would be destroyed or donated to engineering schools.

Lloyd: It was. But we felt that it was important, given the amount of time and the amount of money we spent on the program, that it would continue to have the most impact on society that it possibly could. That was the thinking behind the donations to schools.

On the EV1’s legacy:

Lloyd: Well, it was the first. And first is first, and second is nobody.

Mark: It was first, and it laid the groundwork for much of what we have for EVs in high volume today. It was way ahead of its time, in so many ways. From its extensive use of adhesives in the body structure to its ultralow rolling resistance tires to its inductive charging. Plus, with that shape and its wheel skirts, it was one of the most aerodynamically efficient vehicles ever.

Lloyd: People still ask the question: Should we have done it? And the answer is: Certainly.

Mark: There’s a lot of energy in the company about it even today. We had quite a few people stay from that team because they knew this was all going to happen, eventually. I just signed a retirement photo of the whole original EV1 team for a guy who was on the team and now works on Ultium in our battery lab.

Lloyd: That’s wonderful. It was a great team. And they built a car that far exceeded expectations, especially when people actually drove the car.

Mark: Oh, yeah — it exceeded expectations by far. A couple of years ago, we fully restored the first one, which we’d kept, and I got to drive it. It’s still very relevant after a quarter century. That’s how far ahead of its time it was.

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Saurabh Shukla

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