As 2011 Chevrolet Volt Nears Dealers, Ghostly EV1 Gets Enthusiasts Excited

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EV1 spotted on Google Earth

EV1 spotted on Google Earth

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Just as the excitement is growing over the first dealer deliveries of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Nissan Leaf, eagle-eyed EV enthusiasts have spotted General Motor’s previous electric car on Google’s Street View. 

Is it serendipity or a more carefully timed disclosure to coincide with the release of Revenge of The Electric Car, the much-hyped premiere sequel to Who Killed The Electric Car?  We’re not sure, but the über rare and unexplained presence of the two-seat all-electric car on a project Google didn’t launch until 2007 has got many Internet forums buzzing. 

Is it a careful electric vehicle activist plant, a relic from the past, or the final resting place for GM’s last EV?

There lies the conundrum. While the majority of the 1,100+ all electric two-seat EV1s were crushed by General Motors a few lucky vehicles were donated to museums and colleges after being intentionally immobilised by GM with the stipulation that the cars never be driven on public roads again. 

Yet on full display on Google’s Street View in a back street in Richmond CA is a silver EV1. What’s more, using the history function of Google Earth, we can make out the solitary electric car in two different locations on the property between 2007 and 2010. 

EV1 spotted on Google Earth

EV1 spotted on Google Earth

Enlarge Photo

Google Earth’s trail goes cold some time in 2009, when the last street view and ariel shots of the area are dated. 

Strangely, Google’s biggest competitor, Bing, does not even show the presence of the EV1 on its own version of Google Maps, Bing Maps, meaning either the car was not at the address the day Bing’s aeroplanes flew past, or perhaps was inside. 

Google tells us that the location in question belongs to Schlumberger Technologies Corp., a company involved in the oil and gas industry. But a call to Schlumberger’s offices in Bakersfield, California left us none-the wiser: the firm told us they had no premises at that location. 

Saturn EV1

Saturn EV1

Before we delve into inconceivable conspiracy theories there is of course be a more straight-forward explanation. The address in question also has both the EPA and California Partners for Advanced Transportation and Highways as neighbors, both of which are more likely to be recipients of an EV1. 

Taking into account Occam’s Razor (or Lex Parsimoniae) we’d have to guess that the ageing EV1 was given to one of these two groups as recognition for their work on previous electric car programs. 

This isn’t the first time the EV1 has hit the news since it was officially crushed. Despite being immobilized by GM, several surviving EV1s have been restored to driving condition, including one owned by the University of Wisconsin and Western Washington University, which was restored to factory condition by enthusiasts and the faculty. 

One way or another, we think the sighting is rather sweetly timed, helping to raise the profile of The Revenge of The Electric Car as well as reminding those of us eager to see the 2011 Chevrolet Volt on the roads of what went before. 

Have you seen the car? Do you know which of the Saved EV1s it is, or in fact who owns it? We’d love to know. 




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Comments (9)
  1. I personally know of THREE uncrushed EV1's. But I'm not telling where they are ;)

  2. If I could buy an EV1 with NiMH batteries, I would cancel my order for a Nissan Leaf. I would not consider a Volt, I already have a hybrid, my Prius.

  3. There is a runnable EV1 at the Crawford Auto/Avation Museum in Cleveland Oh It is one of three that escaped Gms destruction of all vehicles produced.

  4. For those of you who may not understand, the Volt is not a hybrid, but a "dual fuel vehicle" as listed by the EPA. Whereas the Prius uses its engine in nearly all situations, the Volt can be driven on a daily basis without once starting it combustion engine.

  5. YIKES!! bc of this article... this poor bloke with get their EV1 confiscated :( Man.. with GEarth..gonna have to start living underground

  6. Douglas Kerr,
    The Volt IS a hybrid, there are two systems. If it has a gas tank AND a battery pack it is a hybrid, despite what GM want's you to think.

  7. Of course the Volt is a hybrid, both from an energy view point as well as a drivetrain view point. In fact "Voltgate" made clear that it's a Prius style series/parallel hybrid which makes it all the more outrageous for GM's CEO Dan Akerson to call the Prius with new found GM arrogance a 'Geek-Mobile'.(My screenname links to the article)

  8. So much effort trying to label the Volt as 'just a hybrid' and so much resistance acknowledging typical driving habits have the Volt using a fraction of the gasoline a Prius would use over the course of ownership. Compared to a Volt, the Prius is a gas hog.

  9. I saw one on the road this morning being towed (5-5-11). Go to this website to see the pics I snapped off!

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