December 5, 2012
Along with range, recharge times are always a key discussion point when referring to electric vehicles. Chevrolet claims that with a DC fast charger, the Spark can be 50 percent charged in 12 minutes and 80 percent charged in 20 minutes. With a dedicated 240 V wall charger, expect the Spark EV to be charged in roughly seven hours. To ensure the battery lasts, Chevrolet designed it to be liquid cooled or heated depending on climate and outdoor temperature. The battery then underwent more than 200,000 hours of testing and will be warrantied for eight years or 100,000 miles in the USA.
Range and immense engine torque are impressive and all, but the Spark EV’s real party trick is the fact that there is no compromise in interior space when it comes to storage for the battery or electric motor. The rear hatch cargo compartment is just like that in the gasoline-powered Spark and the center tunnel is not altered in any way. The electrification of the Spark does add a lot of weight, though, and has the vehicle tipping the scales at just less than 1,360 kg. The rear suspension, although basically the same in design, did have to be modified and toughened up to hold the additional weight of the battery that now resides right on top of the axle. But other than that, and a few extra buttons and menu screens here and there, the Spark EV’s interior is exactly the same as the regular Spark’s, right down to the inclusion of MyLink.
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV. Click image to enlarge
On the outside, the changes made to the Spark that transform it into the ‘EV’ are more evident. A new spoiler is installed, a closed grille resides up front, the underbody receives a full length shield, and aero spats are added in front of the front tires. All of these changes were performed in the name of reducing drag and increasing range.
Since this vehicle will be fleet only in Canada, there currently is no price set for our market. In the USA, it will retail for roughly $32,500, or more accurately, roughly $25,000 after their federal tax credit of $7,500 is applied. When asked why GM picked the Spark to be their EV vehicle, their response was that they wanted to use an established platform, whereas their next smallest vehicle, the Sonic, is still being developed. Plus, they added, the Spark’s mission in life is like that of an electric vehicle, in that both are designed to be great city runabouts. Personally, I hope it becomes a hit in the United States and the few Canadian fleet customers who do receive them prompt General Motors of Canada to release it on a larger scale as it would be great to have another all-electric vehicle option in Canada.