The EV1 was long anticipated, Paine said, so much so that once the price dropped not long into the program, he leased his own.
“I became a true believer, not just for that car, but for the whole technology,” Paine said. “I just couldn’t believe how fast the car was, how quiet it was. You could run it in a parking garage, and none of your valets were going to get sick. It didn’t smell like anything. It was electricity you could get right here. There are so many things I liked about that car.”
But he didn’t get to enjoy it for very long. In 2003, GM began commissioning tow trucks to haul away vehicles that had been returned after their leases expired. Most of them went to GM’s Arizona proving ground, where they were crushed. The moves sparked protests from many who had leased an EV1.
Before the protests, however, Paine considered committing a crime to save the EV1.
“We thought that we would, in my activist days, try stealing the car and just putting it in a warehouse somewhere,” he…
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