Another Intact GM EV1 Has Been Discovered

When GM killed the EV1; its first all-electric car, it made sure none would ever ply the highways and byways ever again. Of the over 1,100 made, only 40 were saved. GM destroyed the rest. But occasionally, as rare as they are, another one pops up.

This GM EV1 belongs to Howard University

GM EV1 first mass-produced all-electric car
General Motors’ EV1 (Electric Vehicle 1), drives down a Palm Springs street | David Butow/Corbis via Getty Images

It’s not for sale. It belongs to Howard University’s School of Engineering. And it is just sitting outside of the building, where it has been sitting for years. For those into rare mass-produced cars, especially electric cars, this is the Holy Grail. 

Many colleges were awarded the majority of the 40 EV1s for studies related to electric propulsion. Some went to museums, but only two were kept in driving condition. The one that went to the National Museum of American History, and another to the Virginia Museum of Transportation. All the rest had their batteries removed.

This intact GM EV1 also runs, converted to a hybrid

GM EV1 first mass-produced all-electric car | Getty
GM Electric Vehicle in action on Tapo Canyon Rd. in Simi Valley. This is a second-generation EV1 model | Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

So it comes as a bit of a surprise that according to the former teaching professor at the Howard University School of Engineering, this EV1 runs. Jason Ganley told DCist that the university entered into an EcoCar competition in 2008. Until then, the car had just been collecting dust.

Students were assigned to design and test new car technologies. The students turned the EV1 into a hybrid and got it running. It was driven around the campus and even saw testing at an “undisclosed location” by the school. 

In 2018, students tried to convert it back into an all-electric car

GM EV1 first mass-produced all-electric car being charged
General Motors’ EV1 (Electric Vehicle 1 | David Butow/Corbis via Getty Images

When funding dried up, as often happens, the car was put into mothballs. Then in 2018, some Howard students tried to turn it back into an all-electric car. Interruptions and lack of time dealt a blow to this effort, and nothing came of it. 

Since then it has sat in a parking lot at Howard. Ganley says he has been told that with a charge it can still run. But the fate of the GM electric car is unclear. 

They’re so rare a bare shell recently sold for over $21,000

Red GM EV1 first mass-produced all-electric car
GM EV1, first mass-produced all-electric car | Getty

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Our understanding is one of the conditions for accepting the gift says it can’t be sold or driven on public streets. But the few remaining cars are so valuable there could be some side deals happening in the future. A bare EV1 shell sold at an auction not too long ago for over $23,000

Dust-covered EV1s have turned up in a parking garage in Atlanta, and more recently at Kettering University in Michigan. Schools are where one typically “discovers” an unknown car. But the schools that have them know that they do.

There are only so many that can show up because only 40 were saved. If you’re interested in how they met their demise, the 2006 movie Who Killed the Electric Car? is a good start. Probably the most famous EV1 isn’t a car at all; it is a depiction seen in The Simpsons.