The History of the Delco-Remy Divsion of General Motors
A.K.A. "The Remy Brothers" or "The Remy Electric Company"
1896-1994
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Products
Propulsion Systems for Electric Vehicles
Brochures courtesy of Mel Hallman


I was unaware until Mel Hallman brought this information over to me that Delco-Remy had actually formed a product line to provide Electric Vehicle Propulsion.  I did know there was a lot of work being done on this down at Plant 39 in Indianapolis as part of the GM Impact/EV1 program but was unaware it was formalized into a product line.  

Before we show more of the literature here is some background on electric vehicles and Delco-Remy's involvement in it over the years.


Many people think that electric cars are something new in the auto industry with all of the hype they have been getting the past few years.  However, electric cars have been around for over 100 years and at the start of the 20th century there were many makes and models.  They were a very logical choice in that the internal combustion engine vehicles were still in their infancy and until 1912 had one big drawback, which was the hand crank starter.  Many women preferred the electric car rather than have to try and hand crank an auto with a hand crank, and the electric car companies targeted women for this reason.  While there were many attempts to replace the hand crank with different self starting method, it was Charles Kettering who developed the self starter we know today and that was manufactured by DR for many years that was the beginning of the end of the first round of electric vehicles.  With the introduction of the Kettering starter on Cadillac's in 1912 the internal combustion engine started to gain supremacy. 

Pictured above is a two passenger 1921 Detroit Electric with lever steering.  Range was 80 miles at a top speed of 20 miles per hour and cost up to $3,500 in 1921 which is $45,000 today.  The photo was taken at the Wayne County Historical Museum in Richmond, IN.


The lead acid battery pack.


Fast forward to 2013 and the Tesla Model S, Motor Trend Car of the Year.  A modern version of the all electric motor car.


No batteries visible here in the front.


No visible batteries in the back either.


These photos were taken at the North American Auto Show in Detroit in January 2013.  Unfortunately with all of the spectators around it this was the best photo of the entire car I could get.  Note that it is a four door with room for persons less than five feet tall in the back (The subjects here were larger than that!).  There are four different versions of this depending on battery capacity ranging in cost from $52,400 to $87,400.  If we look at the bottom model as it compares price wise with the 1921 Detroit Electric we can seen in 90 years that the range has doubled to an estimated range of 160 miles at 55 mph with a top speed of 110 mph.

In between these two points in electric car technology and before 1994 when it ceased to exist as a division, Delco-Remy was working on being able to provide both batteries and motors for electric vehicles.

1966 - DR provided silver-zinc batteries for the GM Electrovair program which was a Chevrolet Monza electric vehicle.

DR participated in the GM Electro Van Program.

1969- DR participated in the GM512 "Shopper Car" project by providing batteries and DC motors.

1978 - DR produced Nickel-Zinc batteries for 18 Chevettes that were converted to electric drive.

Delco-Remy Investigative Vehicle (Drive I) as documented in "The Moments in Time" page.

1979 - DR provided lead-acid batteries for 20 full size electric powered GMC vans used by ATT in Culver City, CA as a DOE project that ran until the early 1980's.

1990 - DR began work on the development of electric propulsion drive systems.  This would lead to the electric drives on the ill fated GM EV-1 "Impact".  The demise of the "Impact" was not technical but due to corporate politics and lack of vision on electric vehicles.

1994- Opened Lithium Polymer battery development center in Indianapolis.


Gene Phillips Photo.


Gene Phillips Photo.


Gene Phillips Photo.


Gene Phillips Photo.


Gene Phillips Photo.

 


Note the August of 1993 date, 11 months before the end of Delco-Remy as a division.  Actually on this page the ACG is taking credit for the Propulsions Systems.  This was the largest of the marketing brochures for propulsion systems and was all inclusive as to what DR could do.  Below the EV-1 are the covers of three other brochures that contained subsets of the above depending on the particular product specialization.


The GM EV-1, produced between 1996 and 1999 was the main product output of the Propulsion product line.  However, this was after Delco-Remy ceased to exist as a division and the production came as under the control of the ACG and then Delphi.  But the technology was born in DR and implemented by its former employees under the name of new divisions and companies.  Photo taken by the author at the RE Olds Museum in Lansing, MI.


I am always amused that electrics claim to be "clean".  As there are no free lunches and energy is not free the pollution is produced back up line by the power plants to generate the electricity to charge the batteries.  Something even today the electric vehicles mis-represent.  Hopefully the general population has figured this out but I doubt it.


This was published July of 1993. 

 

 

 

 

Delco-Remy at the Normandy Invasion, June 6, 1944   World War Two Products and Product Applications   The Army-Navy "E" Award   Our War Job
Home  History   The Plants   Plant Photos   Moments in Time  The Products   Product Brochures   Service Manuals   Training Booklets   Video  Employment Numbers   Museums   Sources  Allied Divisions   Revisions   Reunions   Remy Electric Country Club   Vintage Literature about The Remy Electric Company   Links

This Website has no affiliation with General Motors, Delphi Holdings, Remy International, or Borg-Warner.  The content is to only present a historical perspective of the plants and products of the former Delco-Remy Division previous to 1994.  All content
presented on this website is for general information only.   Website designed and maintained by David D Jackson.  
Contact:  David D Jackson