Almost every single one of the 1,117 General Motors EV1 electric cars produced from 1996-1999 were destroyed. A select group of 40 vehicles were saved and donated to various research and educational organizations, including 20 of which were sent to institutions overseas. It seems likely that the two EV1 electric cars recently spotted by Car News China were part of those 20 vehicles.
A green and a blue EV1 were spotted at the National Electric Vehicle Experimental and Demonstration Area near Shantou City in China’s Guangdong Province. The Electric Vehicle Experimental and Demonstration Area is a government owned center which aids in the development of electric vehicle technology. In the early ’90s China’s electric vehicle knowledge was nil, so the government imported foreign examples to help gain a better understanding of them.
Car News China doesn’t think these Chevy Volt ancestors were part of the 20 cars voluntarily donated by GM. All of the 40 donated vehicles, save for 1 which is now at the Smithsonian Institution, had their electric drivetrains dismantled under the premise the cars were never to be re-activated and driven on the road. It seems unlikely a research center would have any interest at all in an electric car with no drivetrain, so it’s possible China got their hands on these mysterious two cars in a different way.
There is a third EV1 in China that GM does know about, a gleaming red example in the Shanghai Automotive Museum, which was a gift from the General Motors Heritage Collection.