The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Lewis Research Center tested 16 commercially-manufactured electric vehicles, including this modified Pacer, during the mid-1970s. The Electric Vehicle Project was just one of several energy-related programs that Lewis and the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) undertook in the mid-1970s. NASA and ERDA embarked on this program in 1976 to determine the state of the current electric vehicle technology. As part of the project, Lewis tested a fleet composed of every commercially available electric car. The Cleveland-area Electric Vehicle Associates modified an American Motors Pacer vehicle to create this Change-of-Pace Coupe. It was powered by twenty 6-volt batteries whose voltage could be varied by a foot control.
The tests analyzed the vehicle’s range, acceleration, coast-down, braking, and energy consumption. Some of the vehicles had analog data recording systems to measure the battery during operation and sensors to determine speed and distance. Lewis researchers found that the vehicle performance varied significantly from model to model. In general, the range, acceleration, and speed were lower than conventional vehicles. They also found that traditional gasoline-powered vehicles were as efficient as the electric vehicles. The researchers concluded, however, that advances in battery technology and electric drive systems would significantly improve the performance and efficiency.