General Motors' EV1 has become a "gotta-have" car for a small band of California electric-car enthusiasts. But GM plans to make it a "can't-have" car.
As leases expire for the approximately 600 EV1s in operation, GM will take all the battery-powered vehicles off the road.
The thought that the EV1 will become the EV None is deeply frustrating for many EV1 drivers who cherish the cars. They've even sent earnest money to GM to extend leases or buy the cars.
But GM has returned all the checks. GM says it would cost too much money to keep EV1s on the road.
That creates an odd spectacle. GM is mounting a major product offensive to stir passion for its car lines, yet it is rebuffing an admittedly miniscule group of hyper-loyal customers.
"Many of us have written letters to GM," says EV1 lessee Michael Schwabe, owner of a Union City, Calif., engineering firm. "They just absolutely refuse. They're adamant."
Schwabe praises the EV1's quiet ride, styling, power and fuel economy with a passion that GM wants buyers to feel about its mainstream cars: "I love the car," he said. "It's going to be like having a part of myself ripped off."