GM (NYSE: GM) to Unveil All-Electric Chevy Spark

Cost-Competitive Electric Vehicle


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By Swagato Chakravorty
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

An all-electric version of General Motors’ (NYSE: GM) Chevrolet Spark will be showcased this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The car is slated to become available for sale in the summer across California, Oregon, Canada, and South Korea (its place of manufacture), with numerous other places to follow shortly.

The Spark EV differs from the Chevy Volt in that it is truly all-electric; the Volt has a backup gas engine.

Although GM has not disclosed the Spark’s range on a single charge, it has claimed that it will be a “top performer” in the all-electric vehicle bracket, the Washington Post reports. For comparison, Ford’s (NYSE: F) electric version of the Focus sedan can run 76 miles on one charge, and it is currently the top performer in its class.

GM is also setting an attractive pricing standard; the Spark will cost less than $25,000 after the $7,500 federal tax credit. That’s even lower than the Nissan Leaf, which begins at $27,700, though it's still a good bit more than the conventional version of the Spark, which costs a mere $12,245.

The Spark EV runs on an electric motor powered by a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery, all of which provides 130 horsepower and 0-60 mph in under 8 seconds.

The Spark EV is also the first of its kind to take advantage of SAE Combo DC Fast Charge capability, allowing nearly 80 percent battery charging in just 20 minutes, the Washington Post reports.

Alternately, a normal 240V outlet can charge it fully in 7 hours, and 120V outlets can also be used but would take longer.

The Spark EV’s various niceties include leather seats, GM’s OnStar safety platform, smartphone-based comprehensive infotainment system, and compatibility with Apple’s iOS and Siri. Colors include interesting choices like lime green.

The Spark EV is small—at 144.7 inches long, it is just 5” more than a Fiat 500, though the electronic stability control adds to its steadiness. It also has 10 airbags for safety.

This could cut two ways for GM. On the one hand, the company now offers an electric counterpart to the conventionally fueled Spark, which became available last summer. The Spark undercuts its rivals in the class based on cost.

On the other hand, the North American EV market isn’t booming, chiefly due to sparse charging infrastructure. Charging systems and networks must be the backbone of any reliable, viable EV market, and that just doesn’t exist yet.

So, the Spark may be an excellent, environmentally-responsible choice, but be prepared to deal with charging issues—at least for now.


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