You never know where an interesting car might turn up. This rare General Motors EV1 has been hiding in plain sight, parked outside behind Howard University’s school of engineering in Washington, D.C., but was recently spotted by Twitter user Pepe Lucho (via DCist).
The EV1 was leased to customers in California and a few other locations between 1998 and 2003. Customers that managed to get ahold of an EV1 generally gave positive reviews, but the estimated 60 miles to 80 miles of range and two-seat body style would have likely limited mass appeal.
GM built 1,117 cars, and ended the program after California changed its zero-emission vehicle laws, allowing the EV1 to be withdrawn without the threat of penalties. Most were destroyed, a dramatic moment that formed the basis for the documentary “Who Killed The Electric Car?”
However, 40 cars were donated to museums and universities, and this is one of them. It was donated to Howard without a battery pack, and later converted into a hybrid for the EcoCAR competition, which challenges students to build fuel-efficient vehicles. The car was driven briefly, but parked once funding for the project dried up, according to a DCist interview with the professor who managed it.
General Motors EV1 at Howard University (Photo by LeaderoftheNew via Twitter)
Another group of students reportedly tried to convert the EV1 back into an all-electric car in 2018, but that never happened. So the car remains parked, but should at least serve as an amusement for EV fans. The EV1 has such a loyal following that fans have in the past stalked the remaining cars.
While some remaining cars have only been unearthed with the help of Google Maps, others are more prominently displayed in museums, such as the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and Los Angeles’ Petersen Automotive Museum.
1996 General Motors EV1
The EV1 kicked off the modern era of electric cars, but GM didn’t follow through. Some institutional knowledge from the EV1 program benefited the Chevrolet Volt, but GM has since abandoned that concept and swerved back to all-electric cars.
Also, this hybrid EV1 is not to be confused with the Saab EV-1, an experimental efficiency car built by the Swedish automaker in the 1980s. That one was supposed to be a hybrid.