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

Michael Shnayerson, Author Random House (NY) $25 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-42105-4
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.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996
Release date: 08/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 978-0-517-32812-5
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