On a recent trip to Washington D.C., I somewhat randomly decided to peek my head into the National Museum of American History. A few seconds after stepping into the lobby I realized it was going to be a highlight of the trip. I was standing face to face with the legendary General Motors EV1, the first mass produced (yet extremely rare) electric vehicle.
This car looks pretty in pictures, but in person it’s especially striking. I will be commuting to work by car for the first time soon, and I’m strongly considering purchasing an electric vehicle. This, however, is not an easy decision to make for many reasons — but one of the more troubling factors is how terribly ugly most of the available electric cars are.
Seeing the EV1 in person was incredibly frustrating because GM absolutely nailed it out of the park on their first try, but this car is completely unobtainable. The Wikipedia page on the EV1 reads like heartbreaking soap opera. It’s difficult to make sense of this vehicle’s strange, short life. The fact that the homely Nissan Leaf is the undisputed king of the electric road, while nearly every beautiful EV1 was intentionally destroyed by GM is just plain old sad.
But, alas, the story of electric vehicles is currently a happy one. Tesla is producing the greatest cars the world has ever known, the BMW 3i is so beautifully engineered that even Apple seems envious, and the Chevy Volt, which, in my opinion, is the only affordable EV with an iota of self respect, ultimately proved to be a success — and the second-generation model will be hitting the road soon.
If you’re ever in D.C., make a point of visiting the National Museum of American History. It was filled with amazing stuff. I got to see an Apple I circuit board, Steve Sasson’s digital camera, and a whole lot more. In fact, in the background of one of the photographs above you can see Rodney Mullen’s skateboard. Perhaps I should have been a historian…
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