When Chris Paine heard that an electric car was being developed
in the late '80s, he was thrilled. After waiting nearly a decade, he received
his stylish teardrop-shaped
car, which he dubbed "EV Rider." The cleanest consumer car ever produced,
the EV1 had no tailpipe, spewing nothing but happy vibes into the California
sunshine. Five years later, Chris was forced to say good-bye to his dream
car after General Motors decided to recall the vehicle last year.
POV's Borders: How did you wind up with an EV1, especially since so few were made?
Chris: I heard that General
was developing one in the late '80s called the Impact. I got the brochure and
GM to be a test driver. They never wrote back, but I watched for them at dealerships
and sure enough they appeared at Saturn in California in '97. The leases started
out really high at about $600 a month, but about six months later they dropped
to $400. Suddenly I thought, 'Wow I can have an electric car.'
Was it that simple?
No. I had to go through an application process to see if I was the right person
to have the car. Did I have a garage? Was my credit okay? I can't remember
all the hoops but I had to get permission from my landlord to put a charger
in, and so on. Then one day the EV specialist came along and delivered my new
car. I don't even like cars and this was the first time I was ever excited
about getting one.
What was it like to drive?
Fantastically fun. I'd zip around, plug it into the charger at night, which
would take a couple of hours, and worked out to a couple of dollars for the
charge. The car was super-efficient and had massive acceleration. It would
take any car off the line. And when you step on the brakes the power went back
into the car. You became very aware of energy usage when driving the car. You'd
say, 'Okay, do I want to burn some energy now or take it easy? Do I want to
go 100 miles on this charge or 40 miles on the charge?'