This special issue has been loaded with impressive new electric cars that have reduced charging times to acceptable levels and improved driving range too. However, harnessing the tech wasn’t all that easy just a few years ago and we can’t sign off without looking at earlier attempts that for one reason or another did not pan out so well. There are plenty of examples; from major carmakers dabbling with electrification and failing, to upstart companies that just couldn’t build the world’s next great electric vehicle...

Starting with a biggie, in 1996, General Motors launched the EV-1 which was available only via lease to customers in California and Arizona and had a range between 112 to 160km. The car was good and people loved it but the problem wasn’t with the EV-1, it was with GM; they thought EVs occupied an unprofitable niche of the market and despite heavy protest from customers, they recalled and crushed almost every single one of them. What a dumb move — Tesla is the name on everyone’s lips now, but things could have been very different had GM shown a little more faith in their car all those years ago...

At the other end of the scale was unknown California-based company Aptera, founded in 2002, and its Typ-1. It had an impressive range of 193km and a “two plus one” seating configuration — but it looked plain ridiculous. The radical space ship-like styling did not go down well (the body materials were borrowed from light aircraft) and by 2008 Aptera began struggling financially. Three years later, they were out of business altogether due to a lack of funding for its weird project. Now, just take a look at this ugly three-wheeler and tell me you’re surprised about that...

 

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