General Motors got into the electric car business because they had to. California was planning to force the automakers to build them, and in 1996, GM decided to get ahead of the game and introduced the now infamous EV1.

GM produced 1,117 of them and lost an estimated $40,000 on each one. In 2003, when the Golden State gave up on their plan, General Motors gave up on their car. Trucks were the rage then, with $150 barrels of oil a figment of the imaginations of commodities traders. Unfortunately, times can change quickly.

Rick Wagoner calls the cancellation of the EV1 program the worst mistake the company made on his watch. Instead of being a decade ahead of what has now become the game, GM is years behind and scrambling to play catch up with the much ballyhooed Chevrolet Volt.

That car is still two years away from production. Whether Wagoner gets to drive it as his company car, or has to borrow one from the retirement home motor pool, is yet to be seen.