Crushing cars—and the environment

Kadife Besir-Dunlap is a Davis educator dismayed by current energy politics

We’ve been among the few lucky ones leasing an EV1 for two years, a zero-emission electric vehicle manufactured by General Motors in very limited numbers. It’s been the ideal commuter car for my son, my husband and me. My daughter, who is studying abroad, was disappointed that she wasn’t able to take a turn driving it.

My son was especially intrigued by its race-car-like acceleration, (zero to 30 mph in less than three seconds). We all have been immensely enjoying driving this fast, fun and environmentally friendly car that we were mainly charging on a solar-powered charger. In fact, this was the first car I felt enthusiastic about and personally got attached to.

It’s understandable that we dreaded the termination of our lease at the end of August.

What makes losing this car so unbearable, though, is that this perfectly functional, low-maintenance car will be compacted—crushed in the Arizona desert and piled upon the other 600 or so EV1s that have been destroyed already. To me, this EV1 graveyard, a senseless “killing field,” looks like a merciless crime scene. It’s also destroying evidence that alternative vehicles are a possible reality and a viable option.

In a time of serious energy crisis, and in spite of a long waiting list of potential leasers, it is irresponsible, even criminal, to eliminate a fully functional zero-emission alternative. Instead, these cars should have been further researched and developed to make them even more efficient and available.

By pushing its Hummer and terminating this zero-emission vehicle, GM is doing neither us nor the environment a favor. A number of people have tried to prevent the destruction and save the EV1s by appealing to GM’s “conscience” and common sense, but the obviously much stronger sense of business prevailed. Not even suggestions to sign waivers to absolve GM from any future responsibilities or liability helped.

GM argues that it’s too costly to make and keep the EV1s on the streets. Has the company calculated the implicit cumulative cost of destruction, the disastrous cost on the environment or even the lives lost because of our oil dependency? What a waste!