GM's First New Battery Electric Car: 2013 Chevrolet Spark EV To Launch In U.S.

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Chevrolet Beat EV electric vehicle with GM executives, India, June 2011

Chevrolet Beat EV electric vehicle with GM executives, India, June 2011

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GM [NYSE:GM] had hoped to announce its latest green vehicle tomorrow morning, at a nice, orderly, staged press event to celebrate Chevrolet's 100th birthday.

But one of its hometown papers jumped the gun and broke the news: The largest domestic car company will launch a small battery electric vehicle in the U.S. market. 

While The Detroit News had the basic story, GreenCarReports can add a few details, based on conversations with a number of sources knowledgeable about the electric car industry.

First, the vehicle is the Chevrolet Spark EV that was spied testing in Michigan just last month (and which we predicted would be GM's first all-electric car sold in the U.S.).

The Spark EV was originally unveiled this past June, as the Chevrolet Beat EV, in India. It is an electric conversion of the upcoming 2013 Chevrolet Spark minicar (known in some markets as the Beat).

Chevrolet Spark

Chevrolet Spark

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Second, the battery Spark will be largely focused on California, and perhaps other states that have adopted its emission standards. The Chevrolet Spark EV won't be offered nationwide--unlike the 2012 Chevy Volt extended-range electric car, which GM says will be available in all 50 states by the end of this year. .

Third, volume will be low, perhaps 2,000 cars a year. This may be just enough for GM to comply with California's unique Zero-Emissions Vehicle mandate.

That number may, in fact, be roughly similar to the planned volumes for the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, another battery electric conversion of a gasoline car to be sold in California by another large global automaker.

The gasoline version of the Chevrolet Spark, incidentally, will arrive in the first half of next year as a 2013 model. But its front-end design will differ somewhat from the Spark now on sale in Asia and Europe (shown in the photos accompanying this article).

We'll have more details of GM's new all-electric car once the press event kicks off.

Chevrolet Spark - interior

Chevrolet Spark - interior

Enlarge Photo

Meanwhile, consider this: Just five years ago, GM was pilloried by the film Who Killed the Electric Car? which documented its 2002 decision to take back and destroy all of the pioneering EV1 electric cars it had begun to lease in the late Nineties.

From that public ignominy, it now appears that General Motors will soon be the sole global automaker to build and sell gasoline, diesel, mild-hybrid, full-hybrid, range-extended electric, and battery electric vehicles.

What a difference a decade makes.


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Comments (37)
  1. Is it just me, or is "spark" a bad (scary) name for an electric car?

  2. Maybe they can expand the range with a Chevy Shock....

  3. Or, the Chevy Short?


  4. A Chevy Short would have problems selling in America. People would think they were referring to the cars length. "I ain't drivin' no d*** Short car like them Europeans."

  5. It's not just you. Since GM is owned by the GOP; they are still trying to use the same scare tactics that got us into two wars that is as worthless and as expensive as the Volt and as will be the Spark.

  6. i dont think the public is silly enough to be scared by names like spark, lightning, etc.

    they have pizazz and advertising appeal.

  7. Since they're going with electric inspired names I think it would be cool if they built an electric sports car and called it something like lightning or jolt.

  8. would the jolt replace the volt ???????

  9. I think this is fantastic, in Who Killed the Electric Car GM was one of the prime suspects, and now in just ten years they're back with the Volt and now the Spark. This really shows the potential electric cars have had all along.

  10. Well, you Ford is making a lot of those EVs, PHEVs, Hybrids too.

  11. Who Killed the Electric Car will forever be remembered as the most fictitious documentary ever put on film. The Nazis' propaganda agency produced more accurate cinema.

  12. Will this car feature the zinc air fuel cell/battery technology?

  13. @Larry: No, it will use nanophosphate lithium-ion cells from A123 Systems.

  14. but, but, but -- wont we get stranded in the jungle with an all electric car ? as i stated, it would not be long before gm was forced to come out with an actual ev, and take both feet out of its mouth.

    as far as the name - i like it - about the only good thing gm has done in the past 20 years.

  15. You must be logged in to post your comment.volt flof, spark? gm better get this one right. it better have tech far better than anything out there.

  16. Didn't GM say that they were going to be building this EV in China to the desires and whims of the Chinese people and Ford was considering doing the same thing? America has more jobs than they know what to do with, so it will be no big deal when GM packs their bags and moves over to China or India. I don't think we will miss them at all...Nissan can just step in and take their place. Nissan has better EVs anyhow and a new 10 minute super charger.

  17. @James: Please point me to the source for your statement that GM will build the Spark EV in China.

    Also, Nissan does not "have" a new "10 minute super charger". They are researching it and it's currently a lab prototype that may take a decade or more to reach production, if ever. See here for the actual, you know, facts:

  18. Having a large open grill designed to cool an internal combustion engine on an EV seems silly, and it adds a lot of aerodynamics drag. It should look at least as smooth as the EV1, and smooth wheels would also help a lot.

    I think aero is the main limiting factor for range, for any given pack size.


  19. This reminds me, where is the 2012 Ford Focus EV that we were promised in 2011. We only have two and a half months left in the year and I do believe they promised to ship this year.

  20. Yeah, John. No information about the Ford Focus EV at all. Not even to people who registered to be kept informed. It would not surprise me if Ford did not delay the Focus EV for several more months.

  21. all the cars are having delays. be patient for that snowball, while it begins its journey down the mountain.

    as i stated in the past, 10 years from now that snowball will be smothering new ice sales.

    hey, snowball and ice.

  22. I think I signed up for notifications too. I hope they ship the Focus EV to save me from having to consider driving the very ugly Nissan LEAF (which is otherwise a great car).

  23. I might consider this a big turn around from their crushing of EV-1s had they actually designed their EV from the ground up as was the case with the EV-1 instead of just converting an internal combustion engine version. Thus, the first pure EV offerings from GM, Ford, and Toyota are all conversions. Kudos to Nissan for having the chutzpah to design a ground up EV.

  24. we need evs on the road so we can get rid of all the problems caused by oil.

    it dont matter if they are conversions or not, as long as they run well.

    the snowball will probably accumulate mass more quickly with conversions, since no doubt the main reason for it is cost savings.

  25. consumers might want to think again if they are considering leasing from gm - LOL.

  26. well obviously gm kiled the ev1 a great revolutionary car in its time got almost 350 miles to the charge, wow this chevy spark only gets 100miles lol at best 150 i will not buy a gm car may be a leaf from nissan or model s from tesla

  27. the nice thing is that consumers are now starting to get a choice of which company they want to buy from.

    i knew gm would be forced to bite the bullet and start selling real evs if they wanted to stay in business.

    and this is true for toyota, and all the other companies who were reluctant to come out with one.

    soon it will be the only game in town.

    just look at all the battery improvements that are being worked on.

    as i said, 10 years from now who will want to buy a new ice ?

  28. @Steven: The EV1 got nowhere near 350 miles per charge. With its original PbA batteries range was somewhere between 40 and 80 miles, and the later NiMH versions could do more than 100. While the EV1 may have had many virtues--that topic can be debated by enthusiasts for light-years--a range of 350 miles was definitely not one of them.

  29. Great new! The more EV's in production then th elower the price.

  30. the snowball effect - the more they sell the cheaper. the cheaper they are, the more they sell.

  31. GM is so stupid! Why would you spend the money to design and build a car and not SELL it NATIONWIDE! I tell you why, they want it to fail. The EV is not profitable enough for GM, it doesn't break down enough (like their combustion engine counterparts) there is no oil, no oil filters, no moving engine components, ect. Its all about dollars. GM will fail again.

  32. YOU WILL FAIL, FOREVER!!!!!!!!

  33. Here we go again with another pregnant roller skate with low production numbers. If GM intended to go electric, they would look at TESLA's product trend and build electric plug-ins that are mid sized and therefore a practical build for business vehicles. Dave Connell, Past Chairman & Founder Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association [MEVA]

  34. I just got my Chevy Volt and attached my test drive video here...


  35. @Dave Connell...So, GM should look to Tesla for tips on product trends? Yeah, because a company which sold all of what, 1,300 vehicles at $100k + and still is losing money, that's who GM should learn from? Yes, the lowest priced Tesla will still come in at over $60k but that's who GM should learn from?
    I don't think I've ever heard anyone in the automotive industry claim that selling relatively low-volume EVs for $60k-$80k is a business model to be emulated. Good luck with that! GM's smart to hedge its bets for now. Develop, learn, later incorporate in higher voluems when costs can be brought down and fuel costs are higher than now.

  36. Chevrolet Beat diesel is the pioneer in this small car segment which comprises a huge part of Indian car market will surely get benefits.
    new cars in india

  37. Let me know more about Electric Spark.Is this one is only operateed by charged battery or has dual system.When are you going to launch in India.During auto exhibition,which I could not visit, you have shown some model of electric car. Please elaborate about launching of The car.

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