The ETV-1 (Electric Test Vehicle) was developed in the late 1970s for the U.S. DOE by General Electric Research and Development Center and Chrysler Corporation.
In a response to the first Arab oil crisis, the Energy Department set a goal of creating an electric car that would be ready for mass production by the mid-1980s and would cost $5,000, or about $21,000 today.
Using commercial lead acid batteries and GE traction motor/drive and controls developments, ETV-1 was the first ground-up modern day electric car design.
The ETV-1 had to meet milestones set out by the Energy Department:
– accelerating from 0-30 miles per hour in nine seconds
– a top speed of 65 mph
– maintaining 50 mph up a 5 percent grade for a mile
– a driving range of between 70 and 100 miles
Based on the then-new K-car chassis, the ETV-1 hit all of those milestones, using a T-shaped battery pack, just as the Chevy Volt does, containing 18 lead-acid batteries that could be charged in just 10 hours from a home outlet. Sounds pretty promising for 1970s technology, right?
The ETV-1 features sleek styling for low aerodynamic drag, independent front and rear suspension, low rolling resistance radial tires, computerized electronic controls with push-button convenience, and on-board charger and regenerative braking, a standard feature in today’s electric cars and hybrids.
The body is a combination of fiberglass and aluminum panels built by Chrysler. A special abrasion-resistant plastic developed by GE replaces the heavier glass commonly used in motor vehicles. GE’s major contribution was the development of a direct-current motor with transistored choppers to control armature and field power.
Unfortunately the ETV-1 project was cancelled before its mid-80s debut as after another gas price spike, oil costs fell back.