The Future Was Then: 1991 GMC Electric Rally Van

If I learned anything from the LA Auto Show last week, it was that electric cars are the future. The boring, blob shaped, no fun, future. Why does every new electric car need to look like a blob shaped CUV, why can’t they be styled after the aesthetics of an 80s full sized American van, for instance? If I’m going to drive a something powered by electrons, then it’ll at least look cool. Find this 1991 GMC Electric Rally Van offered for $3700 in Fort Worth, TX via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!

From the seller:

1991 GMC Rally Van STX
condition: good
cylinders: other
drive: rwd
fuel: electric
odometer: 14438
paint color: white
size: full-size
title status: clean
transmission: automatic
type: van
1991 GMC Electric Rally Van. Condition is used but very solid. Fully electric driveline GMC Rally STX G3500 8 lug van. One of the first practical production line electric vehicles manufactured in conjunction between GM , Conceptor Industries, and VEHMA International. It was originally purchased and used by Southwest Airlines in Phoenix Arizona to transport dignitaries to and from the airport to hotels or meetings. I purchased the van from the second owner also in Arizona who claimed to use it to drive the kids to and from school. I purchased the Van in August 2009 not operating ,with no batteries. I installed all the necessary batteries but not the original chloride type I just used a standard deep cell battery. Everything worked as it should except the charge level indicator which was intermittent. I used the van for several hundred miles over a few years going to work and occasionally to a store. I removed the batteries and put the van in storage in 2015 but no longer have the storage or time. It is now located in Fort Worth TX and comes with a clean CarFax with a clear title in my name. The van has 14,438 original miles and is Complete Minus Batteries . Batteries not included! No pun intended. With new batteries installed properly, everything should work as intended except intermittent SOC gauge. No warranty or guarantee expressed or implied.

I installed a single under hood 12v battery for the pictures to show it is a independent electrical system and it is functioning. Lights, wipers, gauges, etc. The paint is in decent condition with some patina showing and minor dents. The left front fender has some minor damage as shown in pictures. It has had some touch up I’m spots mainly where it had a double stick body mouldings that were removed and the shade of white is not an exact match.The weather stripping is showing its age and its time in the Arizona sun. The interior is complete and has a stain on the driver’s seat bottom also some marks through out the carpet. The headliner is sagging and has been tacked up in spots. Overall the interior is in good condition and not ripped or cracked so it can easily be cleaned up if desired. The very rear seat was added by the prior owner and it will lay as a flat surface into a bed. It has a selectable on board charger and comes with the necessary vehicle 208v-250v cord for charging. It will come with a extremely rare vehicle test unit and operation manuals. Also included are GM factory manuals for the van that includes all standard wiring schematics plus. It comes with original battery wiring, two spare auxiliary accessory motors and a spare main drive motor for parts if ever needed.
These vans left GM’s line as full-size 1 Ton vans, but bare and with no engine. They were equipped with special EV wiring, instrumentation, etc. The Engine type in the GM VIN code is “X” which means no engine. They were then completed by Conceptor a division of VEHMA International . They were then sent to Southern California Edison who installed the battery pack.
The drive Motor is a Nelco N200ML012 Separately Excited DC Sepex motor (with interpoles) and both internal and a external forced air cooling if needed. Power rated at 60 hp and 238 ft. lbs. torque continuous. Peak power is unknown, but I’m sure quite massive.
The rear axle is “flipped” so the drive spline faces aft and where the fuel tank normally would live, there is a stubby little drive shaft that feeds into a custom-built transfer case. The electric motor is mounted longitudinally on the passenger side and connected into the transfer case. The whole assembly is mounted on rubber mounts to a subframe that bolts up into the van. The drive ratio of the transfer case is 1.85: 1 and the axle is 4.875: 1. In the transfer case, It has an electronic speed pick up and a parking pawl lock system just like a automatic.
The Controller is a Chloride Mark 5-A
High Frequency PWM based on a single massive 500A Darlington power block and a couple of smaller (300A) ones for Regen/Sync Rectification. There is also a smaller 4-quadrant PWM drive circuit for the SepEx field. Two 600A contactors break both positive and negative pack voltage. All control circuits are optically isolated from everything else. Completing the unit is a 40A @ 14v DC-DC converter. Built on a massive cast heat-sink with a fiberglass top cover and mounted where the internal combustion engine would normally live.
The original batteries were 33 Saft STM-5-200, 6.00 Volt, Nickel-Cadmium, Flooded Originally made for Peugeot/Citroen. ~40kwh pack capacity. But will operate on a standard lead acid. The blocks are arranged in a custom stainless steel carrier that hangs from the frame underneath the van. This makes for good handling with it’s low center of gravity and stiff springs.

The heater is a 5kw (17,000btu/h) Diesel-fired heater with coolant reservoir feeding GM standard heater-core.
Also has stock GM air conditioning driven by 4 hp permanent magnet motor which works by DC/DC Converter 14v @ 40a MOSFET based, built into the Chloride controller. When A/C is engaged an auxiliary 75a alternator is also spun up with the compressor to assist with the high load.
Instrumentation cluster is made by Delco for the Electric van. It has electronic speedo/odometer, SOC gauge , heater fuel level and temp. 12v aux voltage, and misc warning lights.
Power steering and brakes are stock GM hydramatic system used on Diesels except driven by separate electric motor
Top Speed is 60 MPH. When operating Van has enough power to keep accelerating well past 60 and accelerates very well but at around 55 the motor is doing 6000 RPM which is what the manufacturer spec is. The controller cuts power to the motor at 60mph/6000rpm. All batteries are normally mounted under the van body, so interior space is usable . It has very low miles and all mechanicals are in great shape .
With conversion cost, supposedly these sold for approximately $100,000. when new They were targeted to fleet users. Great gas free ride. Would hate to see it parted out because it is a piece of history but it could also be a great component donor for a custom ride or conversion for a reasonable price.
Contact if you have any questions about the Van and I will answer the best I can. I have tried to give the most accurate description as possible but as a disclaimer keep in mind some details can be a personal opinion or unintentionally not every detail mentioned.
Van is not drivable so will need to be loaded or towed “it will steer and brake”. Tried to provide as much information as I can.

See a better way to drive the future past?