But that's probably not going to happen, according to Randy Fox, GM communication's manager for passenger cars. Fox told AutoblogGreen that, "At this point in time, we don't have any official plans to expand the Spark EV beyond California and Oregon." The reason is that California and Oregon have the infrastructure to support EVs, Fox said, and GM wants to be able to support its EV customers. "We are continuing to look at other options," he said.
John O'Dell, a senior editor at Edmunds.com, told AutoblogGreen that, "It makes sense for [GM] to expand sales and it makes sense to do it in a quiet manner, to get these vehicles on the road. The selling point for electric cars today is not advertising, it's eyeballs, it's peer exposure. If someone in my neighborhood has one and he likes it, then maybe I can trust him. So it's important to get these vehicles on the road."
"The selling point for electric cars today is not advertising, it's eyeballs, it's peer exposure" – John O'Dell
Chevy sold 182 Spark EVs last month, a significant increase over the 98 sold in April. That's still small potatoes compared to the 3,000+ Nissan Leaf EVs sold last month, but making the electric Spark available in Ohio, say, or GM's home state of Michigan could boost those numbers. AutoblogGreen called a few dealerships in Michigan to see what they had heard. One salesman said he didn't think GM had started production yet but the inventory manager for another dealership said the Spark EV is scheduled to arrive in the Midwest in "roughly the fourth quarter."
What would GM's incentive be to offer the car in markets outside of California where it can gain ZEV credits with each sale? Since the General is consolidating battery production for its plug-in vehicles at the Brownstown production line in Michigan – where packs for the Chevy Volt, Opel Ampera and Cadillac ELR are made alongside the Spark EV's – would selling a few (hundred?) more EVs a month change the profit/loss equation?
The question of profitability is really a question of whether or not GM is playing the long game, O'Dell said. Every car loses money at the beginning, but focusing on this is a misunderstanding of how the process works, especially with EVs. If a vehicle doesn't take off overnight, if it's not a $100-million movie, then people say it's a flop. Given enough time, selling more Spark EVs could tip the scales. "At the very least, this would take it out of the compliance car category," he said. "The commitment to electrification that they've shown with the Volt and ELR is moving forward."
New for 2015
OnStar with 4G LTE and standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot (late availability)
3.87 final drive ratio replaces 3.17 ratio
Exterior colors: Salsa and Lime (late availability)
2015 CHEVROLET SPARK EV DELIVERS PURE ELECTRIC PERFORMANCE WITH ZERO EMISSIONS
The Chevrolet Spark EV is a pure electric urban mini-car – available exclusively in California and Oregon – designed for fun driving and easy ownership. Updates for 2015 include a new, numerically higher final drive ratio that enhances acceleration and, later in the year, OnStar 4G LTE with available Wi-Fi hotspot and two new exterior colors: Salsa and Lime.
It uses no gasoline, yet its GM-built motor and drive unit deliver 327 lb-ft (444 Nm) of instant torque, enabling a 0-60 time of 7.2 seconds. Storing that energy from the charging process and the vehicle's regenerative braking capability is an 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
When fully charged, Spark EV features a combined city/highway EPA-estimated range of 82 miles and an EPA-estimated city/highway 119 MPGe fuel economy equivalent, making it the most efficient U.S. retail electric vehicle on the market. For city dwellers whose transportation needs can be met with an all-electric vehicle, Spark EV builds on Chevrolet's proven electric motor and battery development programs for the Chevrolet Volt and its full-size truck and SUV hybrid programs.
Three available levels of recharging capability include the industry's first use of the recently approved SAE combo charger for DC fast charging, which charges 80 percent of the battery in just 20 minutes. Aero refinements, unique wheels and tires and active shutter system on the grille opening help extend the Spark EV's range.
Inside, the standard Chevrolet MyLink Infotainment system provides a seven-inch color touch-screen that shows critical vehicle EV functions and connects with owners' smartphones for infotainment that includes apps for Pandora, Stitcher, TuneIn global internet radio and BringGo full-function navigation (requires smartphone app purchase). For those with compatible iPhones, the system brings the Siri Personal Assistant into the car.
Other standard technologies, such as remote start/cabin pre-conditioning, heated driver and front passenger seats, push-button start and OnStar, are practically unheard of in the mini-car segment.
GM engineers have completed more than one million miles and four million hours of validation on the battery packs in the Spark EV. Comprehensive warranty coverage includes:
Eight-year/100,000-mile drive battery warranty
Five-year/100,000-mile transferrable powertrain warranty that includes emergency roadside assistance and courtesy transportation
Six-year/100,000-mile rust-through warranty.
The four-passenger, five-door Spark EV is generously equipped and available in 1LT and 2LT trim levels.
Designed with efficiency in mind
At a glance, Spark EV looks like its gasoline-powered counterpart, but engineers made small yet important changes to the Spark EV exterior for aerodynamic, range-extending improvements. They include:
Unique chrome upper two-tier grille is closed to reduce airflow
Electric charge portal over the driver's side front wheel well
Underbody panels, tire air deflectors and aero-optimized exterior mirrors
Unique 15-inch aluminum wheels and low rolling resistance tires
Active shutter system controls airflow through the lower intake opening
Rocker system is lower and wider to increase tire coverage for improved aerodynamics
Rear diffusers optimize airflow under the vehicle
Unique roof-extending rear spoiler.
Combined, all of these refinements help contribute to Spark EV's 82 miles (130 km) of range and its impressive 0.326 coefficient of drag.
Spark EV colors include Electric Blue, Silver Ice, Black Granite and Summit White. New colors Salsa and Lime will be offered later in the model year.
Roomy, technology-filled interior
Designers focused on creating an environment that is harmonious, uninterrupted, flowing and inviting to the senses. With 86.3 cu. ft. (2,444 L) of passenger volume and 9.6 cu. ft. (272 L) of cargo volume, Spark EV is one of the largest vehicles in the segment.
Storage options include a center console bin, door pocket bottle holders, a passenger IP storage tray and four cup holders, two each in the front and rear. Cloth seats are standard and leatherette-trimmed seats are available.
The dramatic, customizable instrument cluster/Driver Information Center helps drivers get the most out of their EV experience. The cluster includes:
Seven-inch full-color LCD display screen that provides digital and graphic feedback
Efficiency gauge for the propulsion battery power
Confidence gauge for remaining EV range shows real-time expected driving range based on driving style and other conditions
The integrated center stack adds a second seven-inch, full-color touch-screen that includes the infotainment display, audio and climate controls, heated seat controls, USB, power outlet, defogger button and StabiliTrak/traction control on/off button. All knobs feature LED lighting for improved visibility and access.
In the center console, an open storage area near the USB port provides a convenient location for a cell phone or portable music player. The Sport driving mode switch is located in front of the shift lever.
Two Spark EV interior colors – Electric Blue and Dark Pewter – are available.
Standard and available features
Spark 1LT is generously equipped and includes these and other standard features:
120V onboard charger
240V charging capability
Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and regenerative braking
Fifteen-inch aluminum wheels
Ten standard air bags
Center stack-mounted seven-inch color touch-screen display
Chevrolet MyLink, USB port, auxiliary input jack
Chrome liftgate handle
Seven-inch color Driver Information Center display
Electric parking brake
Heated driver and front passenger cloth seats
Power locks and windows
Remote keyless entry
Remote start/passenger compartment pre-conditioning
Steering wheel-mounted controls
SiriusXM Satellite Radio (three-month trial period).
Spark 2LT includes 1LT standard content plus heated leatherette driver and front passenger seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
DC fast charging capability is available on both models. Using an SAE combo charging station, the battery is recharged from empty to 80 percent capacity in 20 minutes.
Chevrolet MyLink connectivity gets personal
MyLink is standard on all Spark EV models and provides owners the ability to view their EV performance and personalize their infotainment delivery. The system consists of a seven-inch diagonal touch screen, AM/FM/SiriusXM Satellite Radio (with three months of service) stereo with seek-and-scan, digital clock, Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phones, voice recognition for compatible smartphones and six speakers.
EV-related information is accessed through a menu icon and includes an animated power-flow graphic, an energy information screen and access to screens that allow the driver to program charging preferences.
For infotainment, MyLink integrates the owner's compatible smartphone and stored media – via Bluetooth, plug-in outlet or USB – with the radio. That lets owners enjoy simple, safe and personalized connectivity while their smartphone is stowed. It also makes it easy to accommodate new apps.
MyLink also includes compatibility with Siri for customers with a compatible iPhone running at least iOS6, as well as apps for BringGo in-dash navigation (requires smartphone app purchase) and TuneIn, which provides access to 70,000 global radio stations, Pandora and Stitcher Smart Radio.
In MyLink-equipped Spark EVs, owners can use Siri in Eyes Free mode to:
Make voice-activated, hands-free calls to Contacts on their iPhone
Play songs in the iTunes library, and even switch music sources automatically from AM/FM/XM radio to iPod mode
Listen to, and compose and send an iMessage or text message to a phone number or anyone in saved Contacts
Access Calendar and add appointments
Minimize distraction even more by keeping the screen of the iPhone from lighting up, even when Siri answers simple questions such as game scores or the dates of national holidays
While in Eyes Free mode, Siri will not provide answers to complex questions that require displaying a web page.
The available BringGo app provides full-function, in-dash navigation via MyLink, as well as live traffic updates and more:
Emergency information such as police, fire and the nearest hospital
Thousands of points of interest
Local Search via Google
Where am I? locator
Live traffic functionality provides crash reports and lane closures, and with alternative routes
Ability to store native maps to the customer's smartphone, giving them access to locations and turn-by-turn directions even when phone signal quality is poor. Many GPS-enabled apps do not do this
Available for download on iTunes or Googleplay for compatible smartphones.
The TuneIn app connects Spark EV customers to live local, international and Internet radio. Users can search for programming by location, genre, sports team name, station type or call sign.
OnStar with 4G LTE
Complementing MyLink to enhance Spark EV's connectivity is new OnStar with 4G LTE and standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. It provides a mobile hub for drivers and passengers to stay connected. The hotspot is on whenever the vehicle is on and comes with a three-month/three-gigabyte data trial.
4G LTE is the most current and fastest mobile data network – 10 times faster than 3G and 100 times faster than the previous generation of OnStar hardware. And with OnStar, it also offers stronger, broader coverage than smartphones on the same network and it's easy to use: If the vehicle is on, the connection is on.
At the time of purchase, six months of OnStar Directions and Connections includes all of OnStar's advisor-based safety and security features, including Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Assistance, as well as Turn-by-Turn navigation.
Five years of OnStar Basic Plan includes RemoteLink Key Fob Services, allowing owners to remotely start and lock/unlock a car (if properly equipped), and activate the horn and lights from anywhere with a data connection. It also includes OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics, which runs monthly checks of a vehicle's engine, transmission, anti-lock brakes and more, and Dealer Maintenance Notification, which sends a diagnostic report directly to a preferred dealer to simplify service scheduling.
OnStar with 4G LTE comes to Spark EV later in the year.
Power, performance and recharging
Spark EV is powered by an advanced electric motor and battery system that enable 0-60 performance of 7.2 seconds and an EPA-estimated 82 miles of driving range, all the while achieving an EPA-estimated 119 combined city/highway MPGe fuel economy equivalent. All Spark EV models also feature a smooth, single-speed automatic transmission.
Spark EV owners can choose from two driving modes to meet their needs using a switch on the center console near the shift lever.
Normal Mode – The default mode, it maximizes driving efficiency.
Sport Mode – Provides a sportier driving experience with more responsive acceleration, but can reduce efficiency.
Chevrolet engineers used their experience on the Volt and two-mode hybrids (Silverado and Tahoe) to design the Spark EV system. More than 75 percent of the propulsion components on the Spark EV are from these programs.
The heart of the Spark EV's propulsion system is its electric drive unit, manufactured by GM at its White Marsh, Md. facility. It is the first time a major U.S. auto manufacturer has designed and built both a complete electric motor and drive unit for a modern EV in the U.S.
Spark EV's electric drive unit produces 105 kW and 140 horsepower and 327 lb.-ft. (444 Nm) of torque.
Encased in a strong composite material case and positioned below the load floor over the rear axle, the Spark EV's 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery is designed to deliver value, safety, quality, performance, durability and reliability.
A liquid thermal management system cools and heats the battery for a long life, and it is backed by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Owners can choose three levels of recharging for the Spark EV:
AC 120V charging – A 120V onboard charger and charge cord are standard. Plug in the cord into a conventional household outlet and the Spark EV is fully charged in about 20 hours.
AC 240V charging – This requires a dedicated 240V charging station and reduces recharging time to less than seven hours.
DC fast charging station – This optional feature permits the car to be charged using an SAE combo DC fast charger, which charges the battery to 80 percent of its capacity in 20 minutes – and a full charge in about 45 minutes.
Using a DC charging station, it will take approximately 20 minutes to recharge a depleted battery to 80 percent. Charge times will vary with the outside temperature. Charging will continue to 100 percent at a lower rate but greater than AC Level 2 charging. At 100 percent state of charge, the vehicle may continue to draw power to condition the battery. When battery charging is completed, the vehicle will stop the charge session. The system also includes a remote stop charge feature that halts DC charging with the push of a button on a remote key fob.
Spark EV ride and handling
Spark EV derives much of its confident road feel and driving comfort from its stiff body frame integral construction. Sixty percent of Spark EV's structure is made from high-strength steel that improves chassis stiffness, reduces noise, vibration and harshness and improves driving dynamics.
The independent front suspension features MacPherson struts, coil springs and direct-acting 19mm stabilizer bar. The rear suspension is a semi-independent compound crank (torsion beam) design that combines the advantages of a conventional torsion beam axle with low weight and the ability to be tuned.
All Spark EVs have power, electric rack-and-pinion steering. Its tight, 33.8-foot (10.3 M) curb-to-curb turning circle enables excellent handling and maneuverability for tight city spaces.
The Spark EV's brake system includes:
Standard electronic brake force distribution
Hill start assist
Electric parking brake
StabiliTrak stability control
The front brakes include an electro-hydraulic regenerative brake system that captures braking energy – normally wasted in a conventional vehicle – and transfers it to the battery system. From the vehicle's top speed of 90 mph to approximately 10 mph, and as long as the deceleration does not exceed .3g – and the lithium ion battery pack can accept the charge – regenerative braking is used 100 percent of the time to slow the vehicle.
Hill start assist helps prevent drivers from rolling when restarting from a stopped position on a hill. It allows drivers to take their foot off the brake long enough to use the accelerator and move forward.
Safety, security and crash-avoidance features
Designed with occupant safety in mind, Spark EV offers crash-avoidance technologies such as StabiliTrak and ABS, and helps protect occupants in the event of a crash with 10 standard air bags, including both driver and passenger front knee air bags, to reduce the risk of lower extremity injuries in frontal crashes.
Dual-stage frontal air bags, seat-mounted side air bags and side curtain air bags that extend over the front and rear seating rows are also standard.
Three years of OnStar Directions and Connections service is standard on Spark EV. OnStar is the global leading provider of connected safety, security and mobility solutions and advanced information technology.
Services unique to Spark EV include:
Way Point Navigation – Lets Spark EV owners plan trips using OnStar's Turn by Turn Navigation, which finds charging stations along the way and recommends when to charge based on how long it takes to reach the desired destination.
Plug-in Reminder and Low Temperature Alert– Reminds drivers via the OnStar RemoteLink app if they forget to plug in the vehicle, and alerts the driver that the vehicle needs to be plugged in during extremely low temperatures.
More information about OnStar can be found at www.onstar.com.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4.5 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design, and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.