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History of EVs - 1966 Electrovair II prototype


Sep 30, 2020
History of EVs - GM Chevrolet 1966 Electrovair II prototype


The Electrovair prototype was developed in 1964 as a conversion of the popular Chevrolet Corvair. The engine and transmission were removed and replaced with electric system components. It had a pioneering 90 HP AC induction motor and a 450-volt silver-zinc battery. It tested the feasibility of electric power for passenger cars and whether the batteries would provide enough power.

The Electorvair II prototype was announced in 1966. It was more powerful than the Electrovair I.

GM Chevrolet 1966 Electrovair II prototype
Motor: 115 hp AC-Induction
Motor Power Controller: Solid State ( no regen braking. car required larger brakes than ICE models)
532 volts array of silver-zinc batteries
Top speed: 80 mph (129 kph)
Range: 40 to 80 miles (64-129 kilometers)
Acceleration: 0-60 mph (0-96.56 kph) in 16 seconds
Weight: 3400 lb (1542 kg) electric Corvair was almost 1,000 lbs heavier than the stock version.


Photo of 1966 Electrovair II prototype front battery compartment - 532 volt array of silver-zinc batteries



GM Heritage Center - 1966 Electrovair II prototype
This promotional film details the engineering features and technological advancements of the Electrovair II, an electrically-powered version of the second generation Chevrolet Corvair built by General Motors Research Laboratories as it tours the Technical Center campus in Warren, Michigan.


Jim Burkhard, well known Corvair owner, CORSA and Virtual Vairs Internet discussion group member, describes the SAE document as a "cool paper with lots of info on the challenges inherent with trying to make a practical electric vehicle; definitely recommended for anyone interested in the history of the vehicle."

Electrovair — A Battery Electric Car
E. A. Rishavy, W. D. Bond and T. A. Zechin
SAE Transactions
Vol. 76, SECTION 2: Papers 670126–670456 (1968), pp. 981-991, 1023-1028 (17 pages)
Published By: SAE International
** To read and download. Log in through your school or library

Electrovair-A Battery Electric Car 670175
This paper describes the General Motors electric car program which resulted in two battery powered passenger cars, Electrovair I and II. These cars were built to evaluate new motor and control concepts. The program proved that modern high performance electric cars are technically feasible. However, a better electric power source is needed and present costs are too high to make electric cars economically practical.
Citation: Rishavy, E., Bond, W., and Zechin, T., "Electrovair-A Battery Electric Car," SAE Technical Paper 670175, 1967, SAE MOBILUS.
Author(s): E. A. Rishavy, W. D. Bond, T. A. Zechin
Affiliated: Power Development Group, Engineering Staff, General Motors Corp.
Pages: 17
Event: 1967 Automotive Engineering Congress and Exposition
ISSN: 0148-7191

Electrovair—A Battery Electric Car
https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=x-raw-image:///27e4cc3be8ab93472b66ce68b05f0fc862dd5f1cf1d19989b0fce1b3fc2fea3d&imgrefurl=https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/44564984.pdf&tbnid=R5Or6DvM5CcykM&vet=12ahUKEwjXqqXgzMfyAhUKOK0KHc9ECqYQMygBegQIARAS..i&docid=clC8DwVDhxNNDM&w=1692&h=962&q="Electrovair-A Battery Electric Car"&ved=2ahUKEwjXqqXgzMfyAhUKOK0KHc9ECqYQMygBegQIARAS

Electrovair—A Battery Electric Car
https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=x-raw-image:///d7865ad90a1c54dc0ca9faef5fe7c36e992e290667a481b5a34ac914cf42aa1a&imgrefurl=https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/44564984.pdf&tbnid=3FQcCtlahtee0M&vet=12ahUKEwjXqqXgzMfyAhUKOK0KHc9ECqYQMygCegQIARAU..i&docid=clC8DwVDhxNNDM&w=1046&h=832&q="Electrovair-A Battery Electric Car"&ved=2ahUKEwjXqqXgzMfyAhUKOK0KHc9ECqYQMygCegQIARAU

Electrovair—A Battery Electric Car
https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=x-raw-image:///89fcbf523f211bf7ddd0327de63df33f7006fd1668c48f5749b20bcc553fb1ee&imgrefurl=https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/44564984.pdf&tbnid=9xshP1K__Il5EM&vet=12ahUKEwjXqqXgzMfyAhUKOK0KHc9ECqYQMygFegQIARAa..i&docid=clC8DwVDhxNNDM&w=1266&h=378&q="Electrovair-A Battery Electric Car"&ved=2ahUKEwjXqqXgzMfyAhUKOK0KHc9ECqYQMygFegQIARAa

Last edited:


Sep 30, 2020

In 1966 the silver-zinc batteries in the car had poor recharging characteristics & recycle life. Batteries had to be replaced every 100 charges.


Silver zinc battery - History and usage
Last updated 15 January 2021

This technology had the highest energy density prior to lithium technologies. Primarily developed for aircraft, they have long been used in space launchers and crewed spacecraft, where their short cycle life is not a drawback.

  • Informative
Reactions: Brando


Active Member
Sep 27, 2016
Bainbridge Island, WA
GM has well earned market share ~51% inabout 1962 trending down to ~17% 2021.
Great MBA & Wall St. managers - another example would be GE.
As a 1964 Corvair (my first car) I aspired to get a Yenko corvair. I ended up with Saab 99 and by 1990 Sabb 900.

GM killed many great ideas Corvair, Saturn, EV1 just a small start.


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