One of GM’s strangest cars was introduced in 1969 at the GM’s Progress of Power event in Warren, Michigan. This small electric bubblecar was called the XP 512E.
Declared an urban electric car, the XP 512E was a two-seater, with a wraparound glass canopy which opened upwards to reveal the cabin. To make the entry and exit even more convenient, the front panel opened, like on the BMW Isetta.
The GM XP 512E was tiny. The model had a length of 86.3 inches (2192 mm), a width of 56 inches (1422 mm) and a wheelbase of only 52 inches (1321 mm). This makes the model 19.9 inches (503 mm) shorter and 9.4 inches (241 mm) narrower than the Smart ForTwo EQ. The ForTwo wheelbase is also 21.7 inches (552 mm) longer.
Thanks to its small size and fiberglass body, the XP 512E was extremely lightweight. It weighed 1,250 pounds (567 kg), despite having a 84 V lead-acid battery and an extra 12-volt battery to power accessories.
Like many other early electric cars, the specifications were weak. Driving at 25 mph (40 km/h) the XP 512E had a range of 58 miles (93 km). At a maximum vehicle speed of about 30 mph (48 km/h), mileage dropped to 47 miles (76 km).
A full charge took about 7 hours when using a 115-volt household outlet. Nobody had come up with fast charges at that time.