As president of General Motors from 1990 to 1992, Lloyd Reuss was an early champion of the Impact, the concept car that became the EV1. Among other things, Reuss, now 84, helped put in place the engineering team that created the Impact.
Thirty years later, Reuss' son, Mark, 57, is now GM president, and he's leading the automaker's efforts to meet an aggressive goal: to transform its entire light-duty lineup to electric vehicles by 2035.
Mark and Lloyd discussed the legacy of the Impact and the EV1 for Automotive News. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation.
On the creation of the Impact:
Mark: A lot of people thought GM only did the Impact to show how we could meet California's strict ZEV standards, not to encourage our own technological advancements and capabilities in all-electric vehicles.
Lloyd: It was meant to do both, really. And to show the world that we could actually do something like that. But when I was able to introduce the Impact, it was a big, special moment and one of the highlights of my career, really. Because we knew it was a big change with big implications.
On taking the EV1 to production:
Mark: Following up Impact with the production EV1 was huge because at that time, a lot of companies showed concept cars that were never built. And this one was far beyond what people actually thought we would do.
Lloyd: It had to be the real thing. Sure, it was a major step in a new direction, but we thought we were ready, and we went ahead and proved it.
Mark: I remember when you brought one home and used it as a daily driver.
Lloyd: Oh, yeah, we took it and drove it like a family car because that's what it had to be.
It had to have everything customers required — air conditioning, power steering and all the things a so-called real car would have.
That was very important.