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Chevy Spark EV More Powerful Than Gasoline Version

By - Source: Car and Driver | B 29 comments

Chevrolet's Spark minicar may not have been showered with positive reviews so far, and it may not exactly create the kind of enthusiasm it needs to succeed.

That could, however, change with the introduction of the EV version. The Spark EV will arrive as a 2014 model and will be on display at the LA auto show.

Compared to the 84 hp power plant in the gasoline version of the Spark, the EV will pack a 130 hp electric motor. It appears that the EV version will be the much more desirable car to own with a 0-60 mph time of under 8 seconds and 400 lb-ft - compared to just 83 lb-ft in the gasoline version. Of course, there are some downsides.

First, the driving range is that of an EV - don't expect much more than 70 miles from the 20 kWh battery. A full charge from a 240 volt outlet will take 7 hours, but you can opt for a fast charger that fills the battery by 80 percent within 20 minutes. For the purpose of getting around town, that may be plenty for most of us. Second, there is the price: it will be close to $25,000, including the $7,500 tax credit, which you will, of course, have to come up with in the first place.

Third, even if it is not a cheap small car, and the $12,000 or so premium over a base Spark can buy a lot of gasoline, the EV is really a barebones vehicle for very basic needs. If you are looking for more luxury, there are some other pricier options out there, including BMW's i3 electric car, which will also be on display as a near-production version in LA. However, the compact i3 is not a big car either and will be priced close to a 3-series sedan, which, in today's market, suggests at least $40,000 and likely more than $50,000 if BMW is comparing the i3 to the 3-series hybrid.

 

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  • 8 Hide
    CaedenV , December 14, 2012 2:22 PM
    This is what I hate about auto makers and EV cars:
    People with the money to purchase a $40,000 car are not going to consider a base model EV. Or if they buy it, it is just to say that they have an EV and they never drive it, which is way more wasteful than just buying a gas guzzler in the first place.
    On the other end of the spectrum are people like me who would love an EV, or super high mileage commuter car. The problem I am running into is that the EVs have 0 features, but a high price tag, while the 40mpg commuter cars have a ton of features, but with a lower but still relatively high price tag. Even with $5/gal gas you would never see a break-even point on an EV compared to a similarly featured gas car right now. It completely defeats the point for the end user, and limits it to the rich and the idealistic.

    Tesla has it right. Build a freaking sweet car with an electric motor, and then price it similar to other cars with similar feature sets. Get the tech in the hands of those who will use it, this will create demand, which will get more cars on the road and built, which will get the manufacturing better and cheaper, and then a few years down the road we can have relatively cheap $20,000 electric cars perfect for day commutes (something Tesla is also working on).

    And screw the environment, electric cars are not going to save the environment/trees/whales/children/etc. We need to get off oil and onto electricity for other reasons. We can produce electricity any number of ways, and if one way fails to pan out then we can move to a different medium to make power. With gas we are stuck with one medium, and will therefore help fund the crazies in the world that try and dictate oil prices. So gas ties us to oil (or synthetic gas via coal), where as electricity can be found with anything that can burn, or solar, kinetic energy (hydro). The sheer number of options will ensure that prices stay low because there can be competition between mediums.
  • 1 Hide
    lindethier , December 14, 2012 2:40 PM
    This right here ^

  • -8 Hide
    kellybean , December 14, 2012 2:54 PM
    Is this going to be another tax payer funded boondoggle failure like the Volt.
  • Display all 29 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    kawininjazx , December 14, 2012 3:05 PM
    These tax incentives are driving me nuts. You are taking like 35% of my income and giving it to rich people so they can get solar panels and electric cars?
  • 0 Hide
    danwat1234 , December 14, 2012 3:18 PM
    If you want a smaller fast commuter "car" then look at Lit Motor's C-1 2 wheeled self balancing electric car. They claim 220 miles on a charge but I still can't see where they are going to fit any batteries. They claim it'll be around $20K at first and $16K eventually.
  • 6 Hide
    DRosencraft , December 14, 2012 3:42 PM
    CaedenVThis is what I hate about auto makers and EV cars...


    You are partially right, but you miss a lot of points. No, electric cars are not going to solve all environmental problems, but cars are a huge contributor due to their being a huge consumer of oil, so getting people off a gasoline car and into an EV is the best course of action. As for the Tesla, the problem with it is that it's not that great. It gets a lot of press for being an electric sports car, but like your own example shows, people who can afford one are more apt to be able to afford the gas that goes with a better car for the same price category. Yes, most "affordable" EVs are actually fairly expensive, but they aren't "overpriced" since they are usually sold at very low to negative margins. The basic fact is that an EV battery is a very expensive piece of equipment, and account almost entirely for the difference in price from the gasoline equivalent. And unfortunately what is most aerodynamic is not always the prettiest to look at.

    Now, a little math. Assuming 20 total miles a day for travel to and from work and the store or what have you, at the current national average of $3.29 a gallon, and a 40mpg car, that is about $600 a year (assuming gas never goes back up, your car never drops below 40mpg or somehow spikes above it, and you maintain a yearly average of about 7300 miles). It will take a while for an EV to recoup the price over a gasoline car. But again, a major part of that is because the battery and other tech is very expensive. It's the real reason battery powered cars died the first time around.

    Push it now, because if you wait it'll just be more expensive then. Get the tech out there, get it used, have the kinks worked out and production standardized, and then the price comes down. The premium shrinks to near nothing. We need to think of these cars in the same vein as computers. Ram used to be ridiculously expensive, until enough use and pressure brought the price down. Give it some time.
  • -4 Hide
    loops , December 14, 2012 4:08 PM
    I am in the market for a new car and would love to go as green as I can. But my math tends to look like this:

    Monthly payment + gas = ____
    Monthly payment + charge = ____

    If at the end of the day, I will buy the car that cost me less per month to own and run. When see car that are over 15k the gas option tends to look better. This is why some have said that gas needs to be taxed more so ppl will be forced into EVs.
  • -4 Hide
    croc4 , December 14, 2012 4:13 PM
    electric vehicles are all well and good, but the biggest problem I see is how are we going to deal with the toxic batteries once they die?, I have not heard anything about this dark side of EV's, maybe it will spawn another industry once we hit critical mass, but in the mean time will the dead batteries be properly disposed of or just dump in a manner that they leach in to the soil and ground water?, based on 'stellar' human behaviour they has been proven over and over I think we better get used to the taste of lithium ;-/


    croc4
  • 1 Hide
    madjimms , December 14, 2012 4:17 PM
    I want a car that currently does not exist, but I'll throw it out anyway.

    Volkswagen Golf R32 TDI/Hybrid. That way I'll get AWD & excellent fuel economy.

    Or an AWD MK1 Rabbit TDI :-D
  • 0 Hide
    zakaron , December 14, 2012 4:50 PM
    Such is the case with any new technology. I remember when plasma TVs were $10,000+ and they suffered horribly from burn in. CD-R drives were $1000 for single speed writing.

    I'm not opposed to new car technology, but I don't want to take too many steps backward either. My other issue is that I will NOT drive a car that doesn't have an H pattern shifter and a clutch pedal. I tried automatics before and hated it. I couldn't wait to go back.
  • -5 Hide
    wildkitten , December 14, 2012 5:00 PM
    drosencraftYou are partially right, but you miss a lot of points. No, electric cars are not going to solve all environmental problems, but cars are a huge contributor due to their being a huge consumer of oil, so getting people off a gasoline car and into an EV is the best course of action. As for the Tesla, the problem with it is that it's not that great. It gets a lot of press for being an electric sports car, but like your own example shows, people who can afford one are more apt to be able to afford the gas that goes with a better car for the same price category. Yes, most "affordable" EVs are actually fairly expensive, but they aren't "overpriced" since they are usually sold at very low to negative margins. The basic fact is that an EV battery is a very expensive piece of equipment, and account almost entirely for the difference in price from the gasoline equivalent. And unfortunately what is most aerodynamic is not always the prettiest to look at. Now, a little math. Assuming 20 total miles a day for travel to and from work and the store or what have you, at the current national average of $3.29 a gallon, and a 40mpg car, that is about $600 a year (assuming gas never goes back up, your car never drops below 40mpg or somehow spikes above it, and you maintain a yearly average of about 7300 miles). It will take a while for an EV to recoup the price over a gasoline car. But again, a major part of that is because the battery and other tech is very expensive. It's the real reason battery powered cars died the first time around. Push it now, because if you wait it'll just be more expensive then. Get the tech out there, get it used, have the kinks worked out and production standardized, and then the price comes down. The premium shrinks to near nothing. We need to think of these cars in the same vein as computers. Ram used to be ridiculously expensive, until enough use and pressure brought the price down. Give it some time.

    Electric cars are not going to solve any environmental problems. For one thing, all they do is shift WHEN the pollution is generated, they don't end it. How do you charge an electric vehicle? On a wall charger, powered more than likely a coal plant. The pollution is merely generated indirectly when the car is in the driveway rather than when it being run. And let's not forget battery disposal. There is no such thing as an environmentally friendly battery. EV's are like Apple products, merely a status symbol, not a solution to anything.

    The fact is EV vehicles is nothing new. There were battery powered cars a hundred years ago. What we need is to encourage people to truly innovate, to get new technology going, but in this day and age, it won't be happening any time soon.
  • -2 Hide
    wildkitten , December 14, 2012 5:03 PM
    zakaronSuch is the case with any new technology. I remember when plasma TVs were $10,000+ and they suffered horribly from burn in. CD-R drives were $1000 for single speed writing.I'm not opposed to new car technology, but I don't want to take too many steps backward either. My other issue is that I will NOT drive a car that doesn't have an H pattern shifter and a clutch pedal. I tried automatics before and hated it. I couldn't wait to go back.

    Problem is, this is not new technology.
    http://www.vanishedamericana.com/transportation/proof-that-electric-cars-are-nothing-new/
    Yep, that's right, an EV back in 1907. Maybe the battery is different, but the tech is essentially the same and it's not that new.
  • 3 Hide
    Be0wulf22 , December 14, 2012 5:37 PM
    kawininjazxThese tax incentives are driving me nuts. You are taking like 35% of my income and giving it to rich people so they can get solar panels and electric cars?


    Just had solar panels installed on my home 2 weeks ago. Thanks for your donation! ;) 
  • 1 Hide
    jacobdrj , December 14, 2012 5:47 PM
    The value of the electric car is actually greater for those whose time is more valuable. They don't have to stop at a gas station = more time to make money doing whatever it is that they do. The convenience factor for the not quite super-wealthy is where these cars need to be marketed to. Not to Joe-Six-Pack...
  • -5 Hide
    wildkitten , December 14, 2012 6:02 PM
    jacobdrjThe value of the electric car is actually greater for those whose time is more valuable. They don't have to stop at a gas station = more time to make money doing whatever it is that they do. The convenience factor for the not quite super-wealthy is where these cars need to be marketed to. Not to Joe-Six-Pack...

    Ok, I don't even know where you think it's more convenient.

    Even a fast charging station for an EV means a 30 minute stop to take the battery to just 80%. That's a lot longer than it takes to fill up a car. Also, most EV's have a range of about 40 miles. This makes it LESS convenient, and adds to the concern that they may not be able to do what they need to do if they have to drive more than anticipated.
  • -1 Hide
    robochump , December 14, 2012 6:25 PM
    wildkittenOk, I don't even know where you think it's more convenient.Even a fast charging station for an EV means a 30 minute stop to take the battery to just 80%. That's a lot longer than it takes to fill up a car. Also, most EV's have a range of about 40 miles. This makes it LESS convenient, and adds to the concern that they may not be able to do what they need to do if they have to drive more than anticipated.


    Thus most electric cars are regulated as grocery geters or short commutes. Any elec car should not be primary transport and most likely best suited as a 2ndary car, except for the Chevy Volt so far.
  • 3 Hide
    sundragon , December 14, 2012 6:33 PM
    CaedenVThis is what I hate about auto makers and EV cars:p eople with the money to purchase a $40,000 car are not going to consider a base model EV. Or if they buy it, it is just to say that they have an EV and they never drive it, which is way more wasteful than just buying a gas guzzler in the first place.On the other end of the spectrum are people like me who would love an EV, or super high mileage commuter car. The problem I am running into is that the EVs have 0 features, but a high price tag, while the 40mpg commuter cars have a ton of features, but with a lower but still relatively high price tag. Even with $5/gal gas you would never see a break-even point on an EV compared to a similarly featured gas car right now. It completely defeats the point for the end user, and limits it to the rich and the idealistic.Tesla has it right. Build a freaking sweet car with an electric motor, and then price it similar to other cars with similar feature sets. Get the tech in the hands of those who will use it, this will create demand, which will get more cars on the road and built, which will get the manufacturing better and cheaper, and then a few years down the road we can have relatively cheap $20,000 electric cars perfect for day commutes (something Tesla is also working on).And screw the environment, electric cars are not going to save the environment/trees/whales/children/etc. We need to get off oil and onto electricity for other reasons. We can produce electricity any number of ways, and if one way fails to pan out then we can move to a different medium to make power. With gas we are stuck with one medium, and will therefore help fund the crazies in the world that try and dictate oil prices. So gas ties us to oil (or synthetic gas via coal), where as electricity can be found with anything that can burn, or solar, kinetic energy (hydro). The sheer number of options will ensure that prices stay low because there can be competition between mediums.


    Technology doesn't start out cheap. This is the beginning and it's always expensive till the tech matures and becomes cheaper.

    The first cell phones were ridiculously expensive and $1-3/min - I know because my rich friend in high school had one in 1989... Today they are a commodity
    The first flat panel monitors and TV were ridiculously expensive... Today, they are a commodity that's cheap...

    This example can be repeated.

    Car companies have not invested in battery and hybrid tech since the start of the century because there wasn't a need - economically oil was cheap and abundant. Profit rules in capitalism. Now it's becoming more and more an issue to use foreign oil so we are starting alternatives.

    Give it 10 years and see what's out there. Battery, super conductor, motors, efficiency/V are all getting better... My R/C car from 1988 had a 1200 mah battery, today the same cells in the more modern version carry 4500 mah and that's basic tech, not advanced tech.

    The prices will drop and eventually the Chinese will make them for nothing and then we'll b*tch about something else that's expensive.
  • -6 Hide
    wildkitten , December 14, 2012 6:37 PM
    robochumpThus most electric cars are regulated as grocery geters or short commutes. Any elec car should not be primary transport and most likely best suited as a 2ndary car, except for the Chevy Volt so far.

    Except what an expensive proposition for a secondary vehicle. Not to mention, who drives this secondary car? The stay at home mom, who after doing all the things she has to do all day may have to drive her child to the doctor unexpectedly, but then has to worry about the fact that she has already driven 30+ miles and going to the doctor and back would be more than the charge she has left? Or the dad and mom who work and have to do something unexpectedly for their job at the last minute?

    The problem with EV's now is the same problem they had 100 years ago, practicality. You don't get as much range, and a long recharge time, which hampers usability and convenience. Not to mention an exorbitant price tag.

    EV's are not new tech, they are not the wave of the future. They are a relic idea of a century ago. Yes, it would be nice to get off oil. Yes, it would be nice to not use the same technology that we have been using to power our cars for a hundred years and our planes for 50 years. But it's going to require true innovation and people willing to invest the time and money into researching and developing new technology.
  • 3 Hide
    sundragon , December 14, 2012 6:45 PM
    kawininjazxThese tax incentives are driving me nuts. You are taking like 35% of my income and giving it to rich people so they can get solar panels and electric cars?


    *gets on soap box*

    Let me put a little perspective on this :) 

    NOTHING COMES FOR FREE... If you're a US citizen, you live in the richest, arguably most powerful Republic on the face of the earth...

    Your/OUR taxes pay for clean water systems, roads, an army, navy, air force, a proper rule of law, air and pollution regulations, police, health regulations so you don't buy bad drugs, the FBI, CIA, NSA...

    $0.02 of your taxes go to subsidize electric cars... LOL

    Go live in Iran, where my family fled - you pay less taxes and it's f*cking heaven!

    People in this country pay less tax than any other developed country and they still b*tch...

    *gets off soap box*

    :) 
  • 4 Hide
    Wisecracker , December 14, 2012 9:13 PM

    You look good on that soap box :) 

    Toyota is laughing at General Motors for abandoning the EV/hybrid in the 1990s ...

    all the way to the bank.

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