• Jul 22nd 2013 at 4:00PM
  • 150
There's no question that Portland, Ore. is a place full of people who care about the environment. As we have previously reported, Portland is home to numerous examples of electric vehicle infrastructure, such as Electric Avenue near Portland State University and the West Coast Green Highway. That's why Oregon was the perfect place for General Motors to host a test drive of their new Chevrolet Spark EV, GM's most recent foray into electric vehicles.

The Spark EV offers a driving range of 82 miles and an EPA-estimated 119 MPGe combined city/highway, comparable to EV competitors like the Nissan Leaf. With a suggested retail price of $26,685, the Spark EV costs more than a base Leaf, but less than a Ford Focus EV.

Chevy Spark EV

The Spark EV makes use of a digital instrument cluster that displays everything from available range, to the percentage of power being used on air conditioning. The vehicle can also provide driving tips to help the driver get the most out of their charge.

With 400 pound-feet of torque delivered to the front wheels in an instant, the Spark EV is capable of keeping up with most sports cars off the line...at least for a few yards. We were even able to chirp the tires from a standing start.

The Spark EV is also surprisingly roomy for being such a small car. It seats four adults comfortably, thanks in part to the placement of the battery, which straddles the rear axle.

Chevy Spark EV

The Spark EV may be GM's first all-electric vehicle since the EV1-era, but it isn't the first plug-in in the company's current portfolio. That title belongs to the Chevrolet Volt, which is now entering its fourth year of production. It's that vehicle to which the Spark EV owes much of its technology.

"The traction power inverter modules, the control system for the motor... and the power electronics. All of these are built off learnings from the Volt," explains Trista Schiefer, the Lead Development Engineer for the Spark EV. "The first time we plugged in our [Spark EV] development vehicle we got the green light and that's because we were building on the learnings from the Volt."

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Test Drive

For all of the innovation that Chevrolet has poured into the Volt and Spark EV, they seem to have set a limit as to what customers should expect of their all-electric vehicle. During our time in Portland, Chevy indicated that taking an EV on a long road trip is just something that isn't reasonable now, nor would be in the future.

While we agree that driving across the country in an EV today would require a lot of time stopped charging, it would be nice to think that one day it could happen without the hassle. That's precisely what other EV-makers are aiming for, namely Tesla Motors with their Supercharger network and battery swap option.

The Spark EV's biggest disappointment comes in its limited release. As far as the U.S. is concerned, the vehicle will only be available in California and Oregon, with no plan for further distribution anywhere on the horizon.

Despite these drawbacks, Chevy has done what they set out to do: make an EV with surprising performance and roominess for its size, while keeping the price reasonable when compared to the competition.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Draw back on this type of Battery powered vehicle is the chrging Time to bring the Batteries up to full charge and that can be a deal breaker they need a small gasoline Generator or even a roof solar panel on the roof to help on recharging as the power falls off the charge its not rocket science. it can be done i think its a cost factor and who will buy a 4 passenger automobile ? if they can produce this vehicle for $18.000. to 23.000 . It might sell . But to be Honest Toyota & Ford has GM beat. with Hybrids . sorry Chevy your too late in the Game.
      • 2 Years Ago
      A real beauty. That thing would NEVER be parked in my driveway!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Some day I am going to have an EV.
      • 2 Years Ago
      i thnk chev. is make a better car
      • 2 Years Ago
      My only experience with Checy vehicles has been "breandown" vehicles.
      • 2 Years Ago
      NEVER owned an AMERICAN car and Never wIll.... I'M on my 7TH TOYOTA and I love them... ONLY DOWN SIDE IS THEY DON'T ALL COME WITH A MANUEL TRANSMISISION OPTION.. 8-(
        • 2 Years Ago
        Knowve arn;t you the all American boy hope the next job lost is your u p o s
        Frank S. Pedigo
        • 2 Years Ago
        Chances are that your Toyota was built in AMERICA by those evil AMERICAN workers ,
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just another piece of garbage. Tesla puts that, and all other e-vehicles on the trailer!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Released only Ca and Or. One is broke and the other is not far behind. GM finally told the truth. Long trips are out for now and maybe forever. No amount of free charging stations, Tesla, will solve the time to recharge problem. Eventually we will probably go to mag-lift technology. Inital costs would be huge but so was the interstate highway system.
      • 2 Years Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      The corporate government that your tax dollars pay for has the knowledge and patients for the Nichola Tessla inventions that powered an old buick with a heavy ancient dc electric motor from a small circuit board with resistors and old radio valves, let his nephew drive him a 1000 miles without stoping. Maybe its time the truth is demanded from this secret society for the good of the planet and the people that are trying to exist on it..... or will big oil keep doing what they have been doing all along, squeezing every buck they can get outa you............
      • 2 Years Ago
      The whole country should have been converted to natural gas 40 years ago. No pollution, no greehouse effect here, and a gold raised middle finger to the middle east. Sat on our ass for 40 years plus. 500 years of natural gas, and still sit on our asses. Stupid.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why not put solar panels built into the roof , an inveter in the trunk of the car to extend its driving range. Here in Vermont with gas approacing 4 dollrsa gallon of gas . It would sell readily at $ 20 thousnd per unit.
        • 2 Years Ago
        You guys have real cheap gas in VT. I don't remember the last time I paid less than $4!
          • 2 Years Ago
          What state? What city or small town? For obvious reasons, it is hard to accept your statement as fact?
        • 2 Years Ago
        do you realize how many solar panels would be needed to run a car? It would have to be fifty ft long and twenty feet wide. And of course wht do you do if the weather is overcast for days?
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