The ten most epic electric car failures

Backyard engineers and major automakers have been trying to get a real-world useable electric car on the market for years. Some of them come pretty close. Others are just ridiculous, and fail spectacularly. Here are the ten best electric car failures as selected by Jalopnik readers.


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Photo Credit: yelahneb, Flickr

10.) Chevrolet S10 EV

Suggested By: vdiddy210

Why It Failed: The S10 EV was based on the electrical system of GM's EV1, making it front-wheel drive and able to travel 47 miles (mixed use city/highway) on a single charge — or mostly useless as a truck. It was produced for two years, with nearly 500 made in total. Most of those were leased to government agencies, with 60 sold outright. Even so, they do occasionally turn up for sale, so if an electric truck seems like something you'd be into, keep your eyes open.


Photo credit: Mike Weston, Flickr


9.) Gurgel Itaipu

Suggested By: Bueller

Why It Failed: The Itaipu was produced by Brazil's own Gurgel Motors and debuted in 1974. It was named after a hydroelectric plant on the Brazil-Paraguay border, and was Latin America's first electric car. It also looks like a block of cheese. Unfortunately, its 10-hour recharge cycle and lack of charging infrastructure in Brazil left the Itaipu without a future.


Photo credit: CarroAntigo


8.) EAC Silver Volt

Suggested By: tonyola

Why It Failed: Clearly, EAC's Silver Volt was ahead of its time. It had an electric motor that powered the wheels, with an onboard generator to recharge the batteries mid-journey. Sound familiar? Also, amazingly, it used some sort of revolutionary charging technology that allowed it to recharge to 80% in 45 minutes. Based on a late-70's GM station wagon, its wheels, tires and suspension were all upgraded to hold the weight of the electrical equipment and give it what its designer called "a Rolls Royce feel."


Photo credit: IMCDB


7.) Feel Good Cars Renault Dauphine Electric

Suggested By: maymar

Why It Failed: In 2001, Canadian firm Feel Good Cars started trying to round up as many Renault Dauphines as they could get their hands on and converting them to electric power. Since then, they have changed their name to ZENN Motor Company, and brag on their website about selling 15 cars from the first 30 test drives. They were cheap though- in American dollars the Dauphine Electric would have sold for about $15,000.


Photo credit: Rob A's Blog


6.) Sinclair C5

Suggested By: Dr. Homer Bowtie

Why It Failed: Sure, it looks like the motor scooter of the future, but would you want to be seen in public in one? And would you want to tell your friends that it's got the same motor as a Hoover vacuum cleaner powering it? Somehow, these hurdles were not enough to keep it from selling 12,000 units during its brief lifespan. Some of those have been converted to run with jet engines, "hot rodded" battery packs and motors, and rockets. And now, unfortunately, its creator Sir Clive Sinclair has announced that he has a new vehicle in the same vein to be launched in July of this year. Sir Sinclair, we wait with bated breath.


5.) Chrysler TEVan

Suggested By: gershmer

Why It Failed: Manufactured between 1993 and 1995, Chrysler's foray into leased electric vehicles was an odd one. There were 56 made, and they sold for $120,000. What? Yep, that's no typo. Perhaps learning their lesson, Chrysler offered up the second generation in 1997 (named EPIC, or Electric Powered Intraurban Commuter Vehicle) for lease only. Even so, they had top speeds around 70 mph and could seat 5, just like their gas-powered brethren. Heck, they even had regenerative braking. But really, $120,000 for a Chrylser minivan? They must have been nuts.


Photo credit: Espirito Honda


4.) Solargen AMC Concord

Suggested By: brandegee

Why It Failed: Solargen's history is one fraught with shady dealings and sketchy folks. Started in 1979 when Steven Romer got a three million dollar grant from the US Government, Solargen started taking AMC Concords and swapping out their gasoline engines for electric motors. Romer hired his wife as secretary and also added a single mechanic to the company. In 1991, he attempted to flee to Africa with $25 million of his investors' money. The Concords he did finish building had a 30-mile range and could not reach highway speeds. For his sheer scamming skill, Romer's Solargen gets a spot on today's list.


Photo credit: Barthworks


3.) Myers Motors NmG

Suggested By: Bloviatron

Why It Failed: The electric car formerly known as the Corbin Sparrow got sold to Myers Motors and is now produced by them. They still have a 20-40 mile range and top speed around 70 mph. The car comes in two body styles, the original coupe and a larger cargo version originally designed as a Domino's Pizza delivery vehicle, nicknamed "Pizza Butt." You may also recognize them from the Austin Powers movie Goldmember. Or just from looking ridiculous.


2.) Dodge Circuit EV

Suggested By: HoSway01

Why It Failed: The Circuit EV debuted at the 2009 North American Auto Show as a part of Dodge's plan for a big comeback. It had an electric motor that produced 268 horsepower and could run for between 150 and 200 miles between recharges. It was based on a Lotus Europa, and it looked pretty cool. It was supposed to be on the road by 2010. But then Fiat came along and quite literally pulled the plug, dropping it from their product plan.


1.) General Motors EV1

Suggested By: RossLH

Why It Failed: The EV1 only failed because General Motors made it fail. It's a sad story, and one that we've heard before. GM developed this killer little electric car, put it out into the wild for lease only in parts of California and Phoenix, Arizona, let it run around freely for six years, and then in 2002 brought them all back to the factory and either crushed them or deactivated a handful for museums. Why did GM do it? They claim liability and spare parts problems. Enthusiasts claim anger from the oil industry. All we know is, it's kind of a shame.


Photo credit: Wired

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