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 WARREN, Mich., Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- General Motors (NYSE: GM) announced today that more than 1,000 motorists across the U.S. will be test driving its advanced electric vehicle in the next two years.
 Kenneth R. Baker, vice president in charge of the GM research and development center, said GM will build 50 limited production units of its electric-powered Impact and team up with electric utilities to invite customers to drive them for two- and four-week periods, beginning next spring.
 "This is the first ever nationwide program designed to show individual motorists what electric vehicles can deliver, and for us to learn from customers what they will require in a viable electric vehicle," Baker declared.
 "We have a lot to learn from our customers' experience with the vehicle -- and with the infrastructure supporting the electric vehicle -- before we can determine if the electric vehicle has any chance to succeed in real world markets," he said.
 The program was also announced today in Los Angeles by GM, electric utility companies, and participating public agencies. The 12 regions participating in the program, named Impact PrEView Drive, include New York City; Long Island, N.Y.; Washington, D.C.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
 Teamwork was behind the genesis of the electric vehicle program that has led to today's Impact electric car. Baker said, "It's teamwork with government, the utilities, and most of all the customer, that addresses the compelling challenges for a practical and affordable electric vehicle."
 Technical advances demonstrated in the Impact which could also have application to other clean car concepts include:
 -- Magnesium seats that reduce mass by 64 percent.
 -- An aluminum structure 40 percent lighter than steel.
 -- A heat pump that heats and air conditions with an environmentally sound refrigerant.
 -- Tires with 25 percent lower rolling resistance than current GM all-season tires.
 -- An aerodynamic drag coefficient of .19 -- comparable to an F-16 fighter and 30 percent better than any current production car.
 -- A vehicle that can achieve 70-90 usable miles per charge and has a full complement of features such as driver and passenger side airbags, electric heated windshield, traction control and anti-lock brakes, a four-speaker premium stereo system with CD-player, to name just a few.
 "We took current, available lead-acid battery technology and pushed the limits of ultra energy efficient vehicle design," Baker explained. "The result is a showcase for technological advances on two frontiers -- advanced electric propulsion and ultra-energy efficiency."
 More than a dozen GM organizations teamed to make this possible, he said. They include Hughes Aircraft, Delco Electronics, and Delco Remy on propulsion -- and Harrison, Saginaw and Inland Fisher Guide on components and subsystems.
 "The risks associated with a very uncertain market and the high initial development costs and investment to produce the electric car led us last December to seek new partners in electric vehicle commercialization," Baker said. "We're encouraged by the efforts of the domestic industry and government to share the costs and risks of early commercialization."
 "We've made much of the technology work in the laboratory and in concept vehicles," he said. "But we still have a lot to learn to be able to mass produce an electric vehicle in volume and market and sell it in a consumer driven marketplace."
 -0- 10/13/93
 /CONTACT: Jerry Bishop of GM, 313-986-5715/

CO: General Motors ST: Michigan IN: AUT ENV SU:

SM -- DE040 -- 1747 10/13/93 13:54 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 13, 1993

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