General Motors is literally changing its stripes with its battery-electric powered Chevrolet Spark. The automaker is testing battery-electric versions of its Chevrolet Spark compact and is suggesting that production versions may have a single-charge range of more than 100 miles.

GM posted on Tuesday on its The Future Is Electric blog that engineers are testing a handful of electric-powered sparks. The post includes photographs the zebra-stripe-painted Spark EVs and implies that the testing is being done in Southern California and that the car has a single-charge range of about 106 miles. A video about the test is available after the jump.

As part of its centennial celebration, the automaker unveiled details about the battery-electric Spark last October, saying it would be sold in "limited quantities" starting next year. GM said the electric motor would put out 114 horsepower, or about a third more than the 83 horsepower put out by the 1.2-liter four-cylinder gas engine in the conventional Spark. That model is set to debut in the U.S. this summer.

Last December, Australia's Go Auto reported that GM may develop a plug-in hybrid-electric version of the Chevrolet Cruze.



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  • 104 Comments
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hey 2 wheel! Work is sending me a new computer. Do computer batteries still have memory? If so, what is the best way to charge them so they last the longest? .i figure you know about batteries.... Thanks!
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        You're an Engineer! Oh, I guess your sarcasm index has inflated again :)
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          haha... okay then, fair enough.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          :D With anything, one has to keep up to date, and my problem is, when I decide I have to know about something, I get books and references so I KNOW about it. Which is a pain in the butt sometimes. On the electrical side, we literally get down to the electron flowing through the gate. In this case I was like, 'I could learn, but, 2wheel has to do this stuff or his sh*t won't run. He'll know!' You comment did make me LOL in Starbucks though (and yes, you are right....I am being lazy).
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        lol.. nope, they don't have memory. Lithiums are happiest within 20-80% charge, preferably more like 50%. No need to cycle them to get the best performance. That's an old ni-cad problem.
          JP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          There might be a benefit to an occasional full cycle to allow cell balancing, if that is going on in laptop packs.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Sweet, thank you! :)
      Harry
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cool little cars! Build them at a decent price and they will sell a crapload! If they have an EPA rated 100 mile range they could sell well at an MSRP of about $35,000, after credit that would be $27,500. Works.
        Black Fire
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Harry
        Not everyone qualifies for the $7500 IRS tax credit. If you make under $100K, you may not get it. Check with your accountant.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Harry
        Wat? At $35K, you are better off buying the Leaf since it is a 5 person vehicle and will be a 3rd generation by then. If they sell it at $27,499 such that it is under $20K after tax-credit, then it would be nice. That could be doable. If they put in a 24KWH battery at $400/KWH that is $10K and the rest of the vehicle could easily be covered by $17K.
      Grendal
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Spark EV looks like a tennis shoe - and not the cool kind. Why can't the majors make a cool looking EV? The good thing is that it allows the little guys like Tesla and Fisker to grab their piece of the market.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Grendal
        I agree that it is not the best looking vehicle. :-/ But I'm not going to complain too much . . . bringing any pure EV is better than nothing.
      Black Fire
      • 2 Years Ago
      With the financial backing of the US government and the most powerful labor union, it's sad GM cannot build a gas car that get's 75 mpg, or even provide a Natural Gas option on many of their popular models. The American Wal-Mart mentality has Americans dumbed down to living and accepting low grade inferior made Chinese products. Want to know where to BUY-AMERICAN crowd lives on the weekends? Go to Wal-Mart. They car sending their American Union dollars to China, then bitch about China when it suits their conversations.
        EVnerdGene
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Black Fire
        and the parking lot at Walmart is filled with FUVs and they're all bitchin' about gas prices go figure
      Jim McL
      • 2 Years Ago
      Very promising. I hope they put all of the regenerative braking on the accelerator pedal where it belongs, and not try to pretend it is a gas car by putting the regen on the brake pedal where you cannot learn to optimize your driving for electric. And please please please give us at LEAST 9 kW built in charge rate! Lets finally have a grown up EV, OK?
        MTN RANGER
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jim McL
        It might work similar to the Volt: Drive mode D engages regen when you brake, Drive mode L engages regen when you release the accelerator. On the design detail for the Spark released a while ago showed the enlarged charge port which incorporates the unreleased SAE Combo L3 plug. https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-QZEz5X08DUY/TpXrrFjn1xI/AAAAAAAABqs/uFW6Gpzg6-0/s800/sparkJ1772hybrid.JPG http://media.gm.com/content/Pages/news/us/en/2011/Oct/1012_SparkEV/_jcr_content/rightpar/sectioncontainer/par/image.img.jpg/1318386233981.jpg
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jim McL
        I expect that GM will tune the "feel" of the Spark EV based on the Volt, to give a "natural" feel more akin to a gasburner.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jim McL
        9kW, for DC fast charging, or at home? 240v wiring is usually meant for 20 amps or less. 'bout 4.8kW.. minus losses.. 4.0-4.4kW..
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          240V wiring is usually meant for 30A (clothes dryer), higher capacity circuits are 50A (electric range). You're right, on both you have to take some off for losses, you can't really draw a 30A circuit at 30A, more like 25A.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jim McL
        Why in the world would you want regen on the accelerator? I want it on the brake. I want the option to coast. Coasting is a better use of energy than slowing down with regen and then using power to speed back up again.
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Both my cars have regen on the accelerator. Some might find it trying to coat as you must train your foot and brain to clue in on that coasting range between accelerating and braking. Change is scary, IMO most would want it on the brake.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Spec, You can reduce regen or coast by slightly pressing the accelerator. I do that all the time in my Prius. The choice is yours, although it does take some time to learn this skill. SVX, Only 5% loss? Isn't that a bit optimistic? Generator --> power electronics --> battery --> power electronics --> motor. I would guess you lose at least 5% in each step, not the whole chain.
          JP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          My EV has A-pedal regen, it allows single pedal driving much of the time and is a better way to drive. Tesla and the BMW MiniE and ActiveE has the same setup. EV's are different, and better. Learning something new is not a bad thing.
          Chris M
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Almost by necessity, there is a "coast" mode in between "accelerate/power" and "regen". How wide of a range they make that "coast" mode makes a big difference, if too narrow it would be difficult to keep it in coast mode without switching to neutral.
          DarylMc
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Hi Spec I dont have an EV so it's just my opinion but some prototypes have had regen adjustment on the gear shifter or paddles on the steering wheel. Seems a good idea to me.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          @Anne Maybe that is what he means by 'learn how to optimize' . . . by why make people 'learn' that when you can do it naturally and just let the car coast. The 'learning' should be learning how to brake by pressing lightly on the brake to only engage the regen system to brake instead of the actual brakes.
          pmpjunkie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          That was one of the annoyances on the RAV4EV that you actually had to stay on the accelerator to coast. You really need two modes, one that coasts and one that engages regen when you lift off the accel. Regen should also be tied into adaptive cruise control and you're all set
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Agreed. If you regen and accel, basic thermo says you lose more than if you coast. In a typical EV, you're wasting 5% each brake/accel cycle. And not being able to coast downhill? Madness!
          JP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          And I forgot to say that I can still coast by holding a neutral position on the A-pedal, it's not hard, and gives much more precise control of your speed and energy use.
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Of course my controller has five different pedal parameters that allow me to set acceleration, coasting and braking set points at what ever I feel is comfortable.
        DarylMc
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jim McL
        Hi Jim +1 on the regen braking controlled by accelerator. There has been a lot of criticism by journalists of hybrid braking feel and whether they are right or wrong it will give them one thing less to complain about.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jim McL
        No chance of 9kw charge. Since this is a low volume carb play, they will simply use the charger from the Volt. It makes no kind of sense to redesign or produce in low volume when they can increase the use of existing parts on the Volt, even if only slightly, and so get better amortisation.
          DarylMc
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          More power, heat and reduced reliabiltiy should be only a software change away.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          2WM, "That's the thing with electric. You can take one motor and derate it for another application" That's the thing with ICE's too. Ever heard of chip tuning?
          JP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @DaveMart, A motor/controller combo should be able to run on a range of voltages, so you should be able to configure a replacement pack to function in that range. The BMS and charger might have to be tweaked or changed however, and depending on how integrated they are it might be tricky, but not impossible. Better Place is still a bad idea though.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Hi guys, Since this seems to be tech corner, I would like to ask a question. I was confidently arguing that for the Renault Zoe when your lease period on the battery and your guarantee on the car expired if you did not want to carry on and take out a new lease you could get a small company to put in a different battery which you have bought, especially since it has a Better Place standard so the battery is easily swapped and must have a standardised connector. Thinking about it a bit more perhaps my confidence is misplaced, and it would be tougher to integrate a different battery than convert a non-electric car, as the electronics are custom designed for this pack, so the system might go haywire if it can't recognise the pack. Anyone any insights to share, since I am no sort of electronics guy, DIYer or home mechanic?
          DarylMc
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Hi DaveMart I think it would be more likely an aftermarket supplier would have a go at offering a battery pack if there were enough people looking for them. I can almost see it now. Ebay direct from China:)
          DarylMc
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Hi 2WM I suspect all the EV manufacturers right now have conservatively rated their drive trains to make sure they last but especially Nissan and GM since they have a lot to lose and I'm sure some of the pricing also reflects this. As far as I know they will also have transistor generated 3 phase AC supply to the motors so no shunt resistors, but I expect they would have also rated these conservatively in the interest of longevity.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Ya know, if they use the same motor and controller, the spark could be a hot tuner car if you know how to add solder on to a shunt, or change out some resistors in the controller.... :D.. bet you it comes detuned.. That's the thing with electric. You can take one motor and derate it for another application, tune it a little hotter than specced for another.. the motors are so small, light, and inexpensive that it just doesn't matter to make a slightly smaller version.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      if reasonably priced it could be good. of course it will be anything but. venture a guess at 29k$?
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        This is going to be just a couple dollars less than the Leaf to say they have the longest range for the lowest price. The smarter move would have been to make it really good looking to beat the catfish looking Leaf.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          If this is 75 or 80 EPA miles, then slightly less than Leaf makes the point. If it's 100 EPA miles, then Chevy can charge slightly more for the extra utility.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          Agreed. It'll probably be slightly cheaper because it is smaller. I like the look of the Spark, at least without this silly camo.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          @SVX True. If they make it "real world" 100 miles. I doubt it. They'll just want to be good enough to beat the Leaf and the FFE. I'll take a guess at 25 or 26 kWh pack. And who knows where they will manage to put that many batteries in that tiny car. The Voltec pack is huge and it isn't even that big - capacity wise. As someone else mentioned, it would make sense if they used the same battery supplier. I hope the Spark is a hit but I think the look will really hurt it in the US. Elsewhere in the world might not mind it's tennis shoe looks.
        paulwesterberg
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Oh btw at the moment this is a pure Carb play so its price will depend heavily on California clean vehicle tax credits.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        I'd expect GM to price the Smart EV similar to the Leaf - there's no need to charge less.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        ^-- rare moment of optimism... that's strange... HEY, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH OUR DAN!?!
        paulwesterberg
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        No way, that is iMiev territory, that would probably be a fair price, especially if the tax credit is continued, but GM will want more than that.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          That is exactly what I thought as well.
      LEONARD
      • 2 Years Ago
      Were the hell are the x prize winning cars !!!!! Gm price it under 20k and take over the market
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 2 Years Ago
        @LEONARD
        Here is a article of one corp that won partial x prize. http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/10/27/27greenwire-x-prize-winner-has-checkered-financial-past-65136.html
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      try reading it again. it wasn't positive : )
      JP
      • 2 Years Ago
      I see something of a problem here for GM. They marketed the Volt as an EV with no range anxiety, as more car than electric, and now that they are building a real EV how are they going to market it? If they do a good job and price the car correctly it will likely outsell the Volt, which would further point out their marketing mistakes with that vehicle. Most of GM's problems with the Volt were due to terrible marketing choices, compounded by irrational hate from the right wing of course.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JP
        To their credit, it seems they have backed away from the (stupid) "More car than electric" slogan. I agree that this thing can outsell the Volt if they give it a nice low price . . . but the Volt is still a great car too (not a mistake). There is plenty of room in the market for both pure electrics and PHEVs. GM's problems with the Volt are mainly that it is $40K . . . that is just a bit too expensive. Even after the tax-credit, that is $32.5K for a 4 person compact car. That is a tough sell.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          @marcopolo I want it to succeed very much. But I refuse to allow my enthusiasm to cloud my rational judgment. I think people balk at a $40K Chevy. And even after taking into account the tax-credit and savings in gasoline, it is a tough sell right now. I think they'll have more luck with a Voltec vehicle with a Cadillac badge. And if they can shave little more off the price and the price of gas goes up it will do better. I think my skepticism has proved to be warranted.
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          The price that should really peav people off is the price of the Focus EV from Ford. Volt is a steal compared to Focus EV. I get two huge motors and a engine as well as all the accoutrements to make it all work together. In hardware alone, bang for the buck goes to the Volt. Focus EV is much simpler to make and their is no reason the car should be 40k dollars except for Ford does not want it to succeed. Marco mentioned mass production pertaining to the Volt. How is shutting your plant down for a month to constrain supply mass production? A strange way of mass production at the very least.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          @Spec If all it took to introduce new technology was to price it below the competition, life would be so easy! But of course life's not like that ! So by constantly joining the smug chorus of those saying "too expensive", "not really good enough", "not good value" , "wait until the price comes down"., you can happily say, "Oh, I hope it succeeds", while doing everything to ensure it doesn't! Then when it fails, you look wise and say " I didn't allow my enthusiasm to cloud my rational judgement.! " . You are just as negative (and I would suggest more effectively so) that Rush Limbaugh and other GM Volt haters. A Cadillac shouldn't be priced at $40, 000 ! $40,000 is not a luxury car! Nearly 17 % of US citizens earn $100,000 + per year. (This is not including the huge 'salary sacrifice' fleet car market. ) Canadians and US citizens will buy nearly 12 million new cars in 2012. GM's Chevy Volt only needs to sell 5% of this number to achieve it's most ambitious target. (That's without export) A $32,000 car with Uncle Sam paying up to 25% is a terrific bargain, for anyone earning more than $40,000 p.a. ! 5% ? Are you, as an American, that lacking in patriotism, or pride ?
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          @Spec Spec, you really have it in for the Volt , don't you? Every opportunity you remind people how Volt is "too expensive", "not really good enough", "not good value" , "wait until the price comes down". Basically, any reason you can find to dissuade people from buying a Volt, without sounding like a Fox news commentator. In fact as an anti-volt advocate, you are probably more effective, seemingly reasonable, while condemning with faint praise. The Volt is not 'too expensive" , it's very good value for a car of it's quality and technology. Further more you can actually buy one! It all depends on how much your principles are worth! For the middle class, it and excellently priced automobile. For those on tighter budgets, the Volt represents a vehicle worth sacrificing little to purchase. (an extra dollar or two a day, so go without that Starbucks and get your coffee somewhere cheaper! You'll be doubly rewarded, own a volt and get better coffee). Remember , this is the technology, everyone demanded of GM for so long, and you can't be bothered to pay a little extra?
        Black Fire
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JP
        A small portion of car buyers have EV range anxiety - but those who GET IT - realize this will be a great 2nd or 3rd car in the family.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      It looks as though GM still do not believe in pure electric vehicles, just as their advertising indicates, so they are simply doing this as a carb play and so that they have at least a token in the market. They believe in PHEV, and are dragged kicking all the way into BEVs.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        "It looks as though GM still do not believe in pure electric vehicles" In a country that measures 3000 miles across, why should they?
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          Yeah. And most people drive right across it at least once a day.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        So, people don't believe the GM adverts are saying what they think? They reckon that GM is deliberately being misleading and are really big fans of BEVs? You can't have it both ways! Either they think that BEVs are not much use due to range limits, or they are lying in their ads! Which is it?
        Jason H
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        "Dragged kicking all the way to BEVs"? Says who? They are making one while many other car companies have not. Maybe it is just a carb play, but if that is a case there is a reason why. That reason would be that electrics may not be profitable. Car companies need to make money, they are businesses not charities or political organizations.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jason H
          @brotherkenny: Plug in hybrids are great, and avoid the range limitations of current BEVs, but the high parts count makes them inherently expensive to build and maintain compared to simple electric cars. Once the tooling up is amortised and volume production is reached ex battery electric cars are cheaper than ICE, and battery costs should be set against petrol costs.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jason H
          I haven't actually criticised GM's decision not to emphasise BEV cars. They have however made complete idiots of themselves by relentlessly sledging them, and then producing one. I simply asked why anyone would be fool enough to buy one from them, when not I, but they, have clearly said that it is a product they don't believe in, and have indicated that they only plan a very limited production run which can in no way drive down costs,when you have the likes of Nissan and Mitsubishi who believe passionately in them, and whose products are likely to be far better supported since they are in many times the volume. The biggest critique of BEV cars has been GM, so why are they producing one, to be called the 'Range Anxiety' model, presumably?
          brotherkenny4
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jason H
          No one will make a profit selling 10K units. There is no economy of scale in the manufacturing at those numbers. That is why everyone presumes Nissan will be the first to get the price down. They are currently building a plant in Tennessee that will produce 150K Leafs. GM just stopped production of the Volt, even though the european model has good interest. Then add to that the advertising. GM has been a success largely because of slick shallow advertising campaigns that play on the emotions of stupid people. They have not put any of that expertise into play with the Volt. Where are the young people and snappy songs and the latent sexual content that they use to sell every other vehicle? We can see with our own eyes that they don't want to sell them. How about a led zeppelin song, a guy getting notice by a sexy girl because of his volt? Sure you can say that is unlikely and not real, but so is all their other advertisements. Indeed, I would argue that Chevrolet commercials are a major component in the childification of americans. Those silly people who believe chevy commercials (or any other car company commercial) are permanent children who influence others to be permanently immature. But no, GM is not going to do what they do best in the case of the Volt.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jason H
          kb0000000000000000000000103092: How do you put Mitsibishi on this list? The iMiEV is also a conversion and it doesn't appear to actually be selling. Let me put it this way, I've seen every BEV or EREV around where I work. I see LEAFs every, day, Volts every day, Tesla Roadsters every day. I see a Karma frequently, and I've seen a Ford Focus EV and BMW Active-e in the last month. The only EVs that don't seem to sell around here are the Coda and the iMiEV. There's an iMIEV at the Mitsu dealer waiting to be sold, that's the only time I've ever seen one. From Wikipedia: "A total of 160 i vehicles have been sold in the U.S. through February 2012." It's good Mitsu made one of the earlier conversions, but the idea it is somehow in the big leagues doesn't make sense to me. Mitsu has made a small bet on EVs like BMW or Ford and seemingly GM. GM sells their EREV as a car for people who would like to drive on battery, but for whom the range limitations and recharging availability is a problem. I'm not quite sure how that's the same as criticizing EVs. And I'm not sure how you decided a company that makes an EREV, unlike say Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Chrysler/FIAT, or Volvo who don't make any vehicles that can take you places on battery only is the biggest gas hound and opponent of EVs.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jason H
          @Rotation: The world, funnily enough, doesn't stop at the boundaries of the US. Mitsubishi worldwide is second only to Nissan in the number of electric vehicles it has on the road, with around 18,000 the last time I checked, and has just opened a new factory giving them a capacity of 50,000 more battery packs a year. They have only just started selling their US spec car. They beat Nissan to it as the first relatively high volume producer, and have brought the cost down every year. GM by contrast has consistently dissed BEV cars. Its not my opinion, they have repeated argued that the product they are now trying to sell is inadequate. If that is their opinion, which they have run advertising campaigns to tell us about, they have lost all credibility for their BEV car. Its nothing I've done, they have done it all by themselves.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      $29K would be $21.5K after the tax credit. Expensive for such a little car but the savings in fuel costs would easily pay for the cost difference over the lifetime of the car. So it was a reasonably positive comment even if you did not intend it as such.
      JP
      • 2 Years Ago
      I didn't say the Volt was a mistake, I said it's marketing was a mistake. I explain further here if you are interested: http://ephase.blogspot.com/2012/03/where-gm-went-wrong-with-volt.html
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