Three years after the release of the Chevrolet Volt, other zero-emission vehicles have entered the fray—some to succeed, others to slowly fall away into electric-powered irrelevance. It is hard to argue that any EV has been more successful in both achievement and image than the Tesla Model S.
The man behind the superstar Model S is, of course, Elon Musk. This forward-thinking turk has had his fair share of success in just a short span, and his automobile company’s impact cannot be understated. Though as brilliant a businessman as Musk may be, his drive for electric success can be traced back to a little EV made some 18 years ago by General Motors.
In a recent interview with Autocar, Tesla’s CEO was asked, “Did GM miss a trick by killing its speculative all-electric EV1 in the late 1990s?” The EV mogul replied, “They should have gone to EV2 and EV3, iterating it and making it better. The EV1 was not a great car. It had a lot of issues. But it was good enough to encourage people to take extraordinary steps to try to keep it and to hold candle-lit vigils when it was crushed. They don’t do that for other GM products.”
Musk knows how much he has General Motors to thank for venturing into the electric car segment. One can imagine how different the automotive landscape would be had General Motors continued developing the EV1, but the right car at the wrong time is, unfortunately, the wrong automobile. Little did GM’s engineers realize how much competition a little start-up company from California would bring to the arena.