The Electrovan Experimental was developed in 1966 by General Motors Engineering Staff, Power Development and Research Laborites. This was a significant step forward in power vehicles was alternative power. With the experience of its on-going battery-powered electric car program, GM had identified the need for a sustainable source of electricity that would yield useful driving range and power. The Electrovan demonstrated the feasibility of an electric propulsion system powered with fuel cells. GM's Electrovan represented the world's first known application of fuel cell technology in a vehicle.
Even as far back as the mid-1960s, General Motors was earnestly exploring futuristic vehicles with alternative power sources, including electric; and this 1966 Electrovair II concept was a test bed for electric motor and control development. It was actually GM's second attempt at an electric-powered Corvair. But when the first one didn't meet the engineers 'hoped-for performance<' they started from scratch with a new one using a 532-volt silver-zinc battery pack stuffed into its front truck and what had been its rear engine compartment.
Because it used comparatively light and compact silver-zinc batteries, the Electrovair II weighs about 800 pounds more than a standard Corvair, where an equivalent pack of conventional lead acid batteries would have weighed closer to 2,600 pounds. The silver-zinc batteries also offered good energy storage and high peak power, but their downsides were high cost and the unfortunate reality that they were essential worn out after only about 100 recharges. The car's 115 horsepower AC-Induction motor that provided acceleration competitive with the gasoline version and an 80-mph top speed. Its major disadvantage was a driving range of only 40-80 miles before recharging.
Strictly an engineering exercise, the Electrovair II was never intended for production. With relatively stable and cheap gasoline prices in the mid-1960s, the American public wasn't exactly clamoring for electric cars at the time.