Clean Car Research Never Reaches Production

GM's Impact prototype vehicle later to be produced as the EV1

It seems that every 10 years or so US automakers take a bunch of money from the Federal Government and sometimes state and local governments in developing one or two high mileage demonstration vehicles. I believe this is to assure government that it is capable of producing a vehicle that truly saves on gasoline. The automakers meet the objectives of the contract; they roll out one or two vehicles, but then they do nothing else. They show the world that the US auto industry can make production vehicles that get 80+ miles to the gallon and then arrogantly refuse to produce them after having soaked up all of the government research dollars.

Ad published by GM introducing a series hybrid the Stirlec1

In 1969 GM introduced to the world through its Opel division the Stirlec1, an experimental prototype conversion of its most popular European vehicle. It was equipped with a Stirling engine and an electric drive train, what we now call a series hybrid. It was said to be able to get 84 miles to the gallon and produce minimal emissions. You don't have to believe me you can see it for yourself. See

The 1979 Electric Test Vehicles 1 (ETV1)

Then it was Chryslers' turn in 1979 with GE, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the DOE to spend a lot of tax payer's money and produce nothing. The project was code named ETV, which stands for electric test vehicle. I became pen pals with the project leader in doing my research for my thesis. The ETV1 was a vehicle much like the EV1. It had; state of the art electric drive train, 70 mile per hour regulated top speed, special motor controller that gave the vehicle about 100 miles of range at 55 miles an hour. It was equipped with a T shaped battery pack made by Global-Union that extended from the front of the vehicle in between the passenger and diver and fanned out behind the back passenger seats. See tv1.jpg and tv1bat.jpg

<SPAN class=smalltext>Left to right, HTV1 front drive hybrid, ETV2 rear wheel drive hybrid. ETV2 was developed into a working prototype.

The ETV2 was a parallel hybrid, developed by Briggs and Stratton and the DOE. It needed two back axils and four back wheels to support the lead acid batteries. The HTV1 was a front drive parallel hybrid. Yes folks American Tax dollars developed something like the Prius in 1979, twenty years before Japan introduced the Prius to the Japanese market. The NiMH battery was introduced to the public by its inventor Stanford Ovshinsky in 1980, two years before the ETV project report was handed to congress. NiMH batteries are the batteries that make the Prius the Prius and not the HTV1. The ETV2's history has been almost completely erased from the Internet. I have a PDF of the projects submission to congress in 1982 and have posted it on the Web. See s/ETV-1DOEstudy.pdf

In 1993 GM demonstrates again it can produce an advanced hybrid

In 1993 GM demonstrates the Precept vehicles. It produces two vehicles, one a hybrid and the other a fuel cell vehicle with a large amount of our tax money. pt.htm

There are more examples then those I have mentioned here. They represent hundreds of millions of dollars spent of our tax money on the production of alternative fuel vehicle prototypes. Prototypes, I might add, which were successful full functioning models that could have been produced but never were. No production vehicle was ever produced from these prototype vehicles until the EMPACT and the EV1.

In the mean time the US automakers have negotiated control of the patents to these vehicles, paid for by our tax dollars. US automakers put the patents on a shelf or in a file somewhere now assured that if anyone else wants to produce these vehicles (or any part of these vehicles for that matter) happening on the technology that they developed with the publics money, they will be faced with a patent challenge in court confronting the formidable legal prowess of a major US automaker.

It is time that the Federal Government give these large research dollars to entities that promise to produce these vehicles, and make them available and accessible to the general public. The Government should also pass laws making patents held by major manufacturers, which hold the promise of reducing America's dependence on foreign oil, public domain if they are not turned into widely sold products within three to five years after the filing. Patents acquired in the production of the above type prototypes, completely funded through tax payer money, should be made public domain upon the completion of the contract, that is unless a predetermined schedule for full production was reached ahead of the contract to be carried out in a timely manner, thereby assuring mass production and mass access of the vehicles. It is time that the Federal Government stop wasting our money on innovations that we have paid for but have never had the pleasure of driving.

Tags: alternative energy, electric vehicles, EV, film, Gasoline, Oil, tribeca (all tags)


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