Those of you familiar with the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” know exactly what kind of emotional connection former GM EV1 drivers had to their vehicles. The depth of their outrage and sadness when the EV1 program was killed off and their beloved cars recalled and subsequently crushed has led, in large part, to GM getting a bad next generation vehicle rap and inspiring a decided lack of confidence in their ability to make the upcoming Volt a success.
Recognizing that the final piece to moving forward was making peace with those disenfranchised EV1 owners, GM has has launched an effort to bring them back into the fold. In a kind of simultaneous homage to the past, mea culpa, and effort for atonement, GM is using the opportunity to show just how committed they are to making it work this time.
“Hindsight being 20/20, sure there are some things we could have done better,” said Phil Colley, Chevrolet Volt Communications, in a recent blog post on the Chevy Voltage site. “So much of what we learned from the EV1 has led us to where we are today with the Volt and if the video below is any indication, the Volt is resonating with the people who are part of the backbone of the EV movement, former EV1 drivers.”
Certainly from the quotes included in the video below, it looks like the effort is paying off. Even Chelsea Sexton, who was featured prominently in “Who Killed the Electric Car?” and has been a huge critic of GM’s plug-in car strategies, seems to be coming around. In a webchat today, Chelsea said in response to a question comparing the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt that the LEAF is “a good, capable EV. Fairly quick, handles well,” but the the Volt “is a sportier drive, more robust,” adding that the two cars serve “different purposes.”
In the same webchat, when comparing the EV1 to the Volt, Chelsea remarked the “Volt is more a real, ready for mass production car” and it has a “nicer fit and finish, and interior,” noting that standard features have come a long way since the time of the EV1 (late 90’s early 2000’s). She said she loves the EV1 because it had so much character, but that the Volt “is a real effort of its own merit.”
Even so, she doesn’t think it’s necessarily a step forward, but a “step different.” “I’d like to see them do a pure EV again someday,” she said, “but this is a step back into those waters, and with a vehicle that GM thinks will be appealing to the masses, which is what they need right now.”
Chelsea says she’s currently working on getting “Revenge of the Electric Car” — a follow up documentary — released into theaters by next spring, adding “I do think [the Volt] is a well built car, and I dearly hope GM keeps it that way. I have no intention of making ‘Who Killed the Electric Car, part II.'”