The Car That Could: The Inside Story of GM's Revolutionary Electric Vehicle

Overview

Unprecedented secrecy surrounded the early development of General Motors's Impact. Shnayerson watched the story unfold from a position of access never granted a reporter before—literally from the inside of the pace-setting GM Impact program. This is the first book to penetrate the silence surrounding GM's risky and successful decision to become the world's first mass producer of the electric car.

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1996-08-27 Hardcover New in Like New jacket Brand new condition hardcover book in its also mint condition decorative dustjacket. MendoPower Employment Services will immediately ... and carefully pack this book in high-quality bubble lined, envelopes. Then we send you a confirmation e-mail. We appreciate your business and welcome any questions. Read more Show Less

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1996 Hardcover First Edition Stated NL with 2 New. New DJ Random House 1996 First Edition Stated NL with 2 Editorial Reviews ReviewThe story of General Motors' first ... mass-produced electric car, the EV1 (at first, unfortunately, named the Impact). This project was decades in gestation, the early dreams of pollution and noise-free vehicles taking a long time to progress beyond visionary prototypes. This was partly because of opposition to the concept from oil companies and the automotive industry. Eventually a combination of government prodding and technological advances in battery design made it possible. Schnayerson describes the supportive role of GM chairman Robert Stempel and the tenacity of a group of true-believing engineers who kept the idea alive after Stempel was ousted. From Hailed as the first practical electric passenger car, General Motors' Impact faces an uncertain future, with doubts about whether a market will materialize for a high-auto with significantly limited range and few recharging o Read more Show Less

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Overview

Unprecedented secrecy surrounded the early development of General Motors's Impact. Shnayerson watched the story unfold from a position of access never granted a reporter before—literally from the inside of the pace-setting GM Impact program. This is the first book to penetrate the silence surrounding GM's risky and successful decision to become the world's first mass producer of the electric car.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hailed as the first practical electric passenger car, General Motors' Impact faces an uncertain future, with doubts about whether a market will materialize for a high-priced auto with significantly limited range and few recharging options. The sleek, small, battery-powered aluminum prototype, which runs silently with no engine or tailpipe, owes its existence to ex-GM chairman Roger Smith, who on Earth Day 1990 publicly declared that GM would mass-produce an electric vehicle (EV). He then resigned. When his successor, Robert Stempel, was replaced in 1992, the Impact development team of engineers was significantly downsized, and the project seemed dead. Secret talks initiated by the Impact team with Ford and Chrysler to consider an EV consortium led instead to GM's renewed commitment to the project, which was kept under wraps. Shnayerson, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, recreates a remarkable, inspiring saga of glitches, unexpected setbacks, power struggles and ingenuity, and in doing so he tells how GM, once stagnant, resistant to technological change and battered by foreign rivals, staged a comeback. Photos. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
The government mandate for a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) was legislated for market availability beginning in 1998. Most manufacturers sought to meet the requirements using electrically powered vehicles, and this account of how General Motors (GM) developed its own electric car traces the birth and initial testing of prototypes through market planning and final designs. The author was granted unprecedented access to the electric car program at GM for three years, during which time he regularly visited research and development facilities while documenting the creation of a new technology that seemed impossible only a few years ago. Although this story of GM's bid to become the world's first mass producer of an electric car is both intimate and dramatic, it is also premature. The government has extended the requirement for automakers to produce ZEVs until 2003, and it is expected that changes in the technology and focus of such vehicles will make them quite different from those depicted here. Still, as a tale of corporate politics, high-risk investment, and management fortitude, this book stands on its own merits. For large public libraries.Eric C. Shoaf, Brown Univ. Lib., Providence, R.I.
Kirkus Reviews
Allowed complete access to GM's top-secret electric-car project, Shnayerson tells the story of the assorted VPs and engineers as if this were a thriller.

Vanity Fair contributing editor Shnayerson (Irwin Shaw, 1989) does a masterful job of presenting a seemingly hopeless situation: building a more energy-efficient mousetrap. Shnayerson's explanations of the technical terms are clear and concise, and his understanding of the machinations of the GM behemoth is remarkable. The book begins with Ken Baker, a GM exec who'd failed at one electric-car project already but was willing to try another. Baker, whose interaction with other managers provides a terrific bird's-eye view of GM, is a sweet, hard-working leader who battles his weight along with the strict hierarchy. Engineer Alan Cocconi, a shy, sardine-popping genius, headed the "Sunraycer" team in its quest to build a cleaner, cheaper car and created a teardrop-shaped design so streamlined it was able to cross Australia with the energy equivalent of five gallons of gas. GM head Roger Smith (unwilling star of the film Roger & Me) became enamored with their first prototype, hideously renamed Impact, and previewed it at a 1990 auto show. CARB, the California group that regulates car pollution, took note and immediately raised its emissions standards. Car makers spotted a trend as well; Ford began to test its own electric vehicle, the Ecostar. But industrywide problems with batteries were persistent and absurdly costly—estimates to develop a new type of battery ran as high as $1 billion—and GM itself faced a tumultuous financial situation. Shnayerson's account of what happens next—to big Ken Baker, to the Impact, and to GM—is fun and beautifully written.

Although it's not clear whether the electric car is the real thing, this business adventure story has heroes, a villain or two, and genuine hope for the future.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679421054
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/27/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.43 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.08 (d)

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