This remarkable two-seat Impact Concept electric car led GM's effort to design, build and market the first production EV from a major American automaker since the industry's early days. Co-engineered adn developed by California high-tech contractor Aerovironment, it looked great, sprinted from zero-to-sixty mph in eight seconds and had achieved - in one test (from 100 percent to zero state of charge) under ideal conditions at GM's Mesa, AZ Desert Proving Groups - a remarkable 125 miles of range, better than any practical EV ever built.
So positive was the press and public reaction following its January, 1990 L.A. Auto Show debut that then-CEO Roger Smith announced GM's intent to produce such a car at the National Press Club on April 22 (Earth Day). 'I want General Motors to showcase its technology, and I want people to understand that we are in the lead on this,' he said.
Ken baker, who headed Advanced Vehicle Engineering for GM's Chevrolet-Pontiac-Canada group - and had been chief engineer on GM's short-lived early-1980s Electrovette (converted Chevy Chevette) EV project - was chosen to lead the effort. Then, on September 28th of that year, California's Air Resource Board (CARB) mandated that the seven top-selling automakers would be required to make 'zero emmisoins' vehicles two percent of their California sales - a percentage that would ramp-up over time. The race was on, and GM would lead with what would become the production EV1
The GMC Impact concept car was first introduced at the 1990 Los Angeles Auto Show in January. Created by the automotive and energy efficient pros as AeroVironment, the concept was led by the direction of Paul MacCready who was famous for his work in all type of energy efficient vehicles. The electric concept car and was inspired by GM's involvement in the 1987 World Solar Challenge, a trans-Australia race for solar vehicles. Alan Cocconi of AC Propulsion was responsible for the construction of the original drive controller electronics while Hughes Electronics later refined the design. Roger Smith, then-GM Chairman demonstrated the Impact at the Auto Show, and later announced on April 18th that it would become a production vehicle. ). 'I want General Motors to showcase its technology, and I want people to understand that we are in the lead on this,' according to Smith.
This announcement was met with tremendous media attention, but was actually a surprise to many within General Motors since very little of the technology to transform the concept vehicle into a reality wasn't yet created.
The Impact Concept was a two-seater with incredible flair and a futuristic body unlike any other. The Impact was tested and able to spring from 0-60 mph in just eight seconds with a total output of 110 hp and had an incredibly 125 miles of range. This range wouldn't even be topped by the production EV. The Impact Concept had a top speed of governor-limited 110 mph.
AeroVironment was responsible for providing mechanical design, systems engineering, powertrain, thermal control and fabrication for the GM Impact. The world's first practical electric car, the Impact had drag coefficient of 0.19 which was basically half that of current production cars. Two AC induction motors for the electric vehicle, one for each front wheel was also designed and constructed by AeroVironment. The motors operate at efficiencies of 90 to 95 percent over most operating speeds and torques met in a car, and feature an integral single speed planetary gear reduction. To improve urban driving cycle range the motor and electronics system of the car provide regenerative braking.
Production and marketing of the Impact would be under the name EV-1.Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson