General Motor has debuted its first all-electric car since the sporty EV1 that was sold for a time in the 1990s. The Chevrolet Spark EV is basically a Korean-built, five-door Spark subcompact sedan converted into an electric vehicle. However, the drive unit and motor will be assembled at GM’s White Marsh, Maryland manufacturing facility using parts sourced from U.S. and global suppliers.
The Spark EV is powered by a GM-designed, coaxial drive unit and electric motor. Rated at 130 horsepower and 400 lb-ft torque, this motor can accelerate the four passenger EV to 60 mph in under eight seconds. Electric energy is stored in the 20 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The 560 pound battery pack consists of 336 prismatic cells. It’s warranted for eight years or 100,000 miles. GM has not provided range estimates for the Spark EV, but it is expected to match or exceed that of competitive EVs like the Nissan LEAF and Ford Focus EV, or about 80 miles under real world conditions.
SAE Combo DC Fast Charging will be optional. This will allow the Spark EV to reach 80 percent of full battery charge in as little as 20 minutes in fast-charge mode. A common on-board charging receptacle accommodates all three charging systems – DC Fast Charge, AC 240V, and AC 120V. Using a dedicated 240V outlet, the Spark EV recharges in less than seven hours.
Owners can control charging according to their expected departure time or when electric rates are lowest. Managing and monitoring the vehicle is also possible remotely via computer at OnStar.com, or with a special Chevrolet Mobile App powered by OnStar Remote Link. Drivers can view critical vehicle functions on one of two reconfigurable, high-resolution, seven-inch color LCD screens. Information includes a confidence gauge showing expected driving range based on driving habits and other conditions.
Many external changes are made from the regular Spark to improve aerodynamic efficiency and reduce range-killing drag. The result is a drag coefficient of 0.325 Cd and 2.5 additional miles of range. Low rolling resistance tires add another five to seven miles.
GM says the Spark EV will go on sale in summer 2014. It will initially be sold in California and Oregon, thus at least for now it is considered a ‘compliance’ EV that is being marketed mainly to meet California’s ZEV mandate. The mandate will require 15 percent of cars sold in this state by 2025 to be zero emission vehicles. It will also be available in Canada, Korea, and other global markets. The Spark EV will list for just under $32,500 and qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Even with this incentive, the electric version is nearly double the base price of Chevy’s gasoline-powered Spark. Californians could get an additional $2,000 to $2,500 rebate to help soften the price differential.