There are a variety of different types of vehicles in display at the Heritage Center, which also includes other famous cars from GM’s long history. Quite a few of these concept vehicles are electric, while others are powered by fuel cells (these vehicles use electric propulsion with electricity provided by fuel cells).
The vehicles and engines included XP512E, a very tiny battery electric vehicle from the late 1960s, and the XP512G, a gasoline-powered version of the 512E. These micro-commuters were designed with future city dwellers in mind, though the cars never caught on in a country where gas prices were low and big cars were the fad. Check out this video below to see more of the 512 cars.
Also on display is a GM-developed Stirling engine, a low-power but high-efficiency alternative to the standard internal-combustion engine. GM also played with hybrid-turbine drivetrains, gas-electric, and even steam-powered cars for a time, though none went mainstream.
On of GM’s more-recent inventions was the 2002 Autonomy, which rode on a self-contained “skateboard” chassis. This skateboard held all of the vehicle’s mechanical and drivetrain components in a flat skateboard, allowing mutiple bodystyles to be used on a single chassis. The Autonomy had a hydrogen fuel-cell setup, but never got beyond the concept phase.
The Electrovair II was a Chevy Corvair converted into an EVpowered by a silver-zinc battery bank which filled the front tunk of the rear-engine Corvair. It was propelled by an AC electric motor controlled by “solid-state electronics”. To clarify, solid-state electronics were still new in the days of the Electrovair II, which was developed in 1966. GM also made
Of these vehicles, my favorite were the Electrovan and Electrovair. In the days of old electric vehicles like the Electrovan, the batteries were so enormous that they significantly ate into passenger room, so passengers barely fit. Today, electric vehicle batteries are out of sight, and barely noticeable under vehicle floors. Sometimes they are mounted in the engine bay. These vehicles show just how far we have come in terms of EV comfort.
Vehicles on the market now achieve up to 300 miles of range (Tesla Model S) compared to older electric subcompact vehicles such as the GM EV1, which was made of plastic, seated only two people, and achieved up to 100 miles of range. To think the EV1 was actually a range milestone in its day. Electric vehicles have come a long way!
If you live near the Heritage Center, in Sterling Heights, Michigan, make sure you swing by and check it out.
Source: Hemmings Auto Blog