Chevy Spark EV: Four Times The Electric Range? RLY? Errr, No

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2013 Chevrolet Spark EV dashboard

2013 Chevrolet Spark EV dashboard

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We love our readers, because they often have eagle eyes far more acute than our own. Take, for instance, Neal Riley.

Reading our article on the 2013 Chevrolet Spark launch, which included official confirmation of the news on the all-electric Spark EV model that we broke last night, he asked:

If the battery is really a 20-kilowatt-hour capacity pack and the car gets 18 miles per kwh as depicted in the dashboard picture, the range computes to 360 miles per charge. Now that would be really great. Am I wrong in my findings?

That's a great question.

Put another way, Neal is asking whether GM has managed to prototype a car that will achieve 18 miles per kilowatt-hour of usable battery-pack capacity, as the GM-provided dashboard image shows.

That would be quite remarkable indeed, since the 2012 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car gets only 2.5 to 4 miles per usable kWh. Other major manufacturers' plug-in cars achieve similar ranges per kWh, and we're not aware of any battery electric vehicle that can deliver even 10 miles per kWh--let alone 18.

2013 Chevrolet Spark EV cutaway

2013 Chevrolet Spark EV cutaway

Enlarge Photo

So we wrote to GM on Neal's behalf, asking whether this was a stunning technological breakthrough they'd simply neglected to mention at the launch.

GM's Rob Peterson replied:

While everyone else was asleep, we have managed to disprove the First Law of Thermodynamics, allowing us to move from approximately 4 [miles per] kWh to 18.  The perpetual motion machine is squarely in our sites, and in our product portfolio.

Which made us laugh out loud.

Peterson then continued, "The actual answer is, no. Our graphic is incorrect."

We appreciate a carmaker that owns up to its goofs quickly, as we try to do here.

And there you have it, Neal. Good spotting!


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Comments (10)
  1. Great and funny reporting John, well done sir.

  2. The left side of the dash display seems to show a bong, so that may explain some of the messed up math.

  3. John Voelcker can take a simple little question and make a really nice follow-up article from it. Good job, John. And thanks for clearing it up for us. But, wouldn't it have been great if they could have done it. Oh, well. We will just have to wait until the next great enhancement in EV technology. Hmm..A perpetual motion machine squarely in GM's sight. Now that could lead to another good article. LOL...

  4. "...and we're not aware of any battery electric vehicle that can deliver even 10 miles per kWh--let alone 18."
    You are probably right on that, I'm running about 108Wh/mile or about 1.1kWh per 10 miles city driving in my 2007 Myers Motors NmG.
    Combined city/hwy is about 7 miles per kWh with a heavy right foot.
    I know, low tech brushed DC motor, lead acid batteries, three wheels, no regenerative braking...

  5. Actually that is really impressive fuel economy. It is probably approaching 300 mpge.

  6. so... no perpetual motion machines yet? :(

  7. Wait didn't you bury the lead here John? The real story should be that they are using the evil non-linear miles/KWH rather than the rational KWH/100miles. We are moving to a new system and have the opportunity to fix the consumption metric.

  8. That is 55.6 Wh/mi at the 28 mph shown. Pretty good for a square box. It is only 3 times what I use at that speed. But I am on a recumbent human/electric hybrid bicycle, with a 1.1 kWh pack. I can only go 57 miles at that speed.

  9. My God, we have people actually using those obscenely brainless MPGe figures. See what happens when the Feds attempt to think?
    I'll bet not one in 500 who sees that metric could tell you what it means. Even fewer (as in none) could explain why anyone would ever create such a metric. Your tax dollars at work....confusing the motoring public. I told them a million times : it's miles-per-kilowatt hour, stupid! These are, you know, electric cars....

  10. You must be logged in to post your comment.I have a electric that recharges while driving why can't GM. nothing lasts forever. E/vs that recharge don't break the laws they inforse them.

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