2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s Website
Chevrolet Canada

Preview by Mike Schlee, photos by Mike Schlee and Courtesy of GM Canada

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2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

Let’s begin this preview by mentioning that the Spark EV will not be coming to Canada as a consumer vehicle; at least not to start. When it crosses our border next year it will be available for fleet sales only while GM evaluates the pros and cons of offering it, and more importantly supporting it, across Canada. This decision is easily understandable as the Spark EV is going to be released in select, densely populated markets in the USA to begin with. Canada would make a hard sell as an initial rollout market since our country is so large and thinly populated; which is unfortunate as the Spark EV sounds fabulous for electric vehicle fans.

Chevrolet is under an ambitious resurgence that will see 13 new and/or heavily updated models appear in the next year. Included in this model rollout was their all-new city car, the Chevrolet Spark. The Spark slots below the sub-compact Sonic in Chevrolet’s model hierarchy and has been exceeding USA sales targets ever since it went on sale. Now, Chevrolet is ready to release the second variant of the Spark in an all-electric form.

To achieve this transformation, the Spark loses its gasoline engine and fuel tank. In their place reside a GM designed oil-cooled, permanent magnet motor and two-piece A123 battery. The battery consists of a square 254-kg lithium-ion battery pack with a volume of 133 litres comprised of 336 prismatic cells and is larger than the one found in the Chevrolet Volt. It provides the juice to power the coaxial drive unit and electric motor that together deliver 130 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Yes, this high-voltage city car has more torque than a Ford Mustang GT. As a direct result of this, Chevrolet expects the Spark EV will deliver a fun-to-drive experience with acceleration times from 0–100 km/h well under eight seconds.

Chevrolet also expects this battery and motor combination will allow the Spark EV’s range to fall in line, at the higher end, of that achieved by its chief rivals, the Ford Focus EV, Honda Fit EV, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and Nissan Leaf. As with any electric vehicle, any HVAC operation will reduce the range in the Spark EV. The air conditioning also runs off the main propulsion battery and will further reduce range when used. Power steering and all other accessories, like the infotainment unit, run off a smaller, conventional car battery.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV2014 Chevrolet Spark EV2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV. Click image to enlarge

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 EV2014 Chevrolet Spark EV2014 Chevrolet Spark EV2014 Chevrolet Spark EV2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
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.

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