Chevrolet Spark EV Electric Car For Korea As Well As U.S.

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2013 Chevrolet Spark minicar, New York City, Aug 2012

2013 Chevrolet Spark minicar, New York City, Aug 2012

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While it was announced a year ago, the Chevrolet Spark EV electric car still hasn't formally been shown by General Motors.

That may change at a "GM Electrification" event to be held in the San Francisco Bay Area next month.

The only nugget of news we've heard lately is that the Spark EV will be sold in South Korea, where it is built, as well as in the States.

The news comes courtesy of GM Korea's investment and development plan, released Thursdays and covered by the Wall Street Journal (via Autoblog Green).

Depending on South Koreans' appetite for electric cars, it could be that the small country buys as many Spark EVs as are made available to U.S. buyers.

The Spark EV is widely accepted to be a so-called "compliance car," offered for sale in only a handful of states to keep its maker in compliance with California zero-emission vehicle rules.

That means that GM is likely to sell only as many Spark EVs as are required to meet the regulatory numbers--just as Honda is doing with its Fit EV and Toyota with its RAV4 EV.

Thus far, all we know about the Spark EV is that it will have a 85-kilowatt (114-horsepower) electric motor, built in White Marsh, Maryland, driving the front wheels.

That's more power than the conventional gasoline 2013 Chevrolet Spark offers from its 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine: 83 hp.

Chevrolet staged a press call last March that boiled down to the statement that it was testing the Spark EV in California. The company declined to say anything substantial about the progress of the tests, however.

The Spark five-door minicar is the smallest Chevrolet sold in the U.S. market in two decades.

While Chevrolet says its sales have exceeded expectations, the minicar segment is still small in the U.S. compared to subcompacts and compacts.

It was a compact car, in fact, that Chevy used to test its first battery-electric vehicle in Korea, two years ago.

2013 Chevrolet Spark EV cutaway

2013 Chevrolet Spark EV cutaway

Enlarge Photo

That car, a Chevrolet Cruze EV, had a range of up to 100 miles, but GM has said nothing since then about putting it into production.

So for now, Chevy's first battery-electric vehicle since the late lamented GM EV1 is also its smallest vehicle, period.

Is that a good thing or not?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (11)
  1. Wasn't EV1 a 2 seater? This Spark EV should be at least 4 seaters. I bet it also performs better than the regular ICE Spark.

    C&D did mentioned Cruze EV in their "auto forecast" couple month back as a "possible" 2014 model.

    Ever since the EV1 experience, GM is skeptical about "pure EV" and its "range anxiety".

  2. "Ever since the EV1 experience..." ?
    Like, having to use force to take cars back from lessees desperate to keep them? Protests as they were crushed?

    "Yeah, that was terrible. People really loved those EVs... We can't let this happen again."

  3. How about you also note that most OEMs do the same thing even today, not just GM? The EV1 was a bad joke whose performance was never near where so many claim today.

    BMW, Fiat and others also have demanded that you return their EVs at the end of the lease period with no option of buying. Can we all expect a similar post complaining about them?

  4. @Robok et al: To be fair, we don't know if the Fiat 500 EV will be sold or just leased. Ditto the Spark EV, so it's a bit early for anyone to criticize (or defend) GM on that basis.

    Honda is leasing its Fit EV compliance car, only, and doing the same with its FCV Clarity fuel-cell car.

    And both the Mini E and the BMW ActiveE were announced as test fleets, so I'm willing to give BMW a pass on that. Honda specifically isn't calling the Fit EV a test car, which I consider to be a notable difference.

    Toyota, unlike Honda, is selling its RAV4 EV compliance car and will hence support it with parts and service for at least 10 years. Ditto Ford with the Focus Electric.

  5. BMW already made it very clear that the Mini-E and ActiveE are just experiments and every leasee who leased one knew that. Plus they have reused/recycled the Mini-E components and will do the same for the ActiveE.

    GM got criticized for the EV1 because they straight up crushed the cars without making people aware that it was just an experiment when they leased one. The actual fair point is that Honda also crushed their EV Plus, but didn't get as much flack since they had the Honda Insight as a replacement (and reused some of the bodies for their FCX hydrogen vehicles). The other automakers wanted to crush their cars also, but eventually listened to the protests and let some people keep their cars (Ranger EV and RAV4 EV).

  6. @Just O,

    Do you expect Honda to take back their Fit EV at the end and Clarity as well?

    A lease is a lease. As long as there are cars out there, the manufacturer is "liable" for the car.

    It doesn't matter how much people love them... Those people are NOT the owners. Leasing company is the owner.

    You really got nothing to whine about.

    Those so called "running out of charges EV1" did enough damages to the EV image as a whole...

  7. I should have used explicit [sarcasm] tags apparently. Of course GM owned those cars all along.

    The only point of my comment was, GM actually produced a vehicle that some people badly wanted (then killed it, for reasons still controversial today so I won't go there).

    Call me cynical but it looks like GM sets itself up for "EV2" now.
    Very low volume like the EV1. Tiny car, made in Korea. Pricing will be key, but I won't hold my breath here (batteries aren't cheap), and unless it's aggressive, I wouldn't expect the Spark EV to become popular in the US.

    Then GM can cite lack of interest etc, and make a point to CARB that ZEV just don't sell... Déjà vu?

  8. Well, sure you have some valid points on the fact that GM is NOT fully committed to BEVs. With Volt in its lineup and it is doing better than the Leaf in US sales, can you blame GM?

    Same applies to Toyota, with Prius sales going through the roof, can you blame Toyota for NOT believing in BEVs?

  9. John,

    Any word on the battery pack capacity and/or the estimated range? When will it be sold here in the USA? Have they mentioned a price?


  10. @Neil: No word on any of those items yet. Hope to learn more in a couple of weeks.

  11. I'll buy one.

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