Electric Vehicle: The Silver Volt

Here's proof that an electric vehicle can be practical and beautiful.


| September/October 1979



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On the road: a 130-mile (maximum) range, a "top end" of 70 mph, and a "Rolls Royce" ride.


MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

America's love affair with the automobile has lasted more than 50 years, and no doubt will endure even through the fuel crises that are bound to occur (with increasing frequency) in years to come.

It should be obvious, then, that some drastic changes will have to be made in automobile design if we're all to enjoy the luxury of personal transportation. Electric Auto Corporation's experimental electric vehicle the Silver Volt is certainly a step in the right direction.

It May Look Familiar ...

The EAC's streamlined five-passenger runabout is not a "scratch-built" automobile. Its chassis and a good part of its body have been "borrowed" from the General Motors assembly line under special contract.

Sir Jon Samuel—the transplanted British baronet who is the firm's president—explains the two-fold reason for this: "At present we're in the midst of an intensive testing program studying the performance of our own battery and drive system. We know that GM manufactures a reliable automotive product, so rather than get caught up in all the design headaches that go with building an entirely original vehicle, we purchase our units from the Detroit firm and make our own alterations. Not only does this practice bring our costs down, but it also places the actual manufacturing burden on another corporation."

Don't get the impression that the Silver Volt is just a warmed-over Buick, however. On the contrary, it's been carefully engineered and adapted to its new "electric" role. For example, because of the converted car's increased weight (added by batteries and other equipment), its wheels, tires, springs, and suspension components have been proportionately upgraded.

The body has also received some modifications which, aside from being cosmetic, actually decrease wind resistance and thus improve the vehicle's efficiency.





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