There is little chance that you've missed the abundance of news on the Chevrolet Volt and its competitors' electric vehicles... but do you remember the mid-1990s' Chevy S10? How about the Chevy S10 EV1, an electric variant of the then-popular/now-deceased small truck from Chevrolet ? I know I don't, and it happened in my so-called heyday.
In case you're like me and missed the news that Chevy (apparently) broke well over a decade (or more) ago, take a look at PickupTrucks.com's Mark Williams' memoriam of the truck that time - and the EV craze - forgot.
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Source: USAToday.com, sourced from PickupTrucks.com
By: Mark Williams
Like its EV1 cousin, the S10 EV was produced in tiny numbers - just 492 over two model years. And like the EV1, after it was canceled along with its parent program, the leased S10 EVs were recalled and destroyed when the leases expired. Why? To protect GM's proprietary EV technology, protect against liability lawsuits (with 312 volts on board) and protect GM dealers from having to stock out-of-production EV parts. GM probably didn't want to train technicians to service the vehicles for many years to come.
But whereas the EV1 was a lease-only program, some 60 S10 EVs were sold, and some are probably still in service:
"When some of the utilities were done with them, they put them up for sale," says Garrett Beauregard, who worked on the EV1 and the S10 EV as an engineer before leaving GM for Phoenix-based Ecotality, where he is now senior vice president of engineering. "We had four of them owned by employees. When I came down here to interview, I was picked up in an S10 electric and driven to the office in it by the guy who would become my boss. He had personalized it with a body kit, side skirts, an air dam and aluminum wheels, and (he) lowered the suspension, so it was kind of sporty-looking."
The S10 EV was essentially a base Chevy S10 short-bed compact pickup powered by a "detuned" EV1 electric drive system (114 horsepower, or 85 kilowatts) to help extend its range. That made the S10 EV front-wheel drive and very heavy at 4,199 pounds, yet it preserved a 951-pound payload under the 5,150-pound gross vehicle weight rating. Of that, 1,400 pounds was the 16.2-kWh lead-acid battery pack tucked between the frame rails under the bed.
To supplement its energy-efficient heat-pump air-conditioning system below 40 degrees, the S10 EV carried a diesel fuel-fired heater to warm the battery and (secondarily) the cabin. Other differences from the EV1 included a less sophisticated regenerative braking system and its truck-capable wheels and tires. Distinguishing the electric S10s from conventional counterparts were a front air dam and a half-tonneau over the rear of the bed, both to reduce aerodynamic drag.
Another GM engineer with clear memories of the S10 EV program is Gary Insana, who was program manager in charge of the build process. "It was pretty straightforward," he says. "We had to take out the gasoline engine, fuel system and everything else on the gasoline side, modify the chassis and put in the electric components -- the motor, power electronics, heat pump, electric power steering and the large battery pack. We set up a satellite facility just outside the Shreveport, La., S10 plant and did chassis assembly there, then transported the chassis back to the main plant for final assembly."
Not surprisingly, cost and range posed major challenges for GM's S10 electric. List price (for those that were sold) was $33,305, a hefty ticket for a low-range compact pickup.
The U.S. Department of Energy financed third-party testing by a company called EVAmerica -- now the Idaho National Laboratory's Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity (AVTA) - and it came up with ranges of 38.8 miles at a constant 60 mph, 60.4 miles at a constant 45 mph and 43.8 miles on the EPA test cycle. Southern California Edison's three test trucks logged 35 to 43 miles of real-world range on a local urban loop. Newly developed 39-kWh nickel-metal hydride battery packs, an option for the 1998 model year, doubled the truck's usable range, but at significantly higher cost.
But whereas the EV1 was a lease-only program, some 60 S10 EVs were sold, and some are probably still in service.