Go East, Little Chevy Spark EV

In the wake of the Detroit Auto Show, General Motors and Chevy are showing their cards at electric vehicles.  In the Motor City, Chevy showed off a newly restyled and retooled Chevy Volt.  They introduced the new Chevy Bolt concept, something intended to take on the upcoming Tesla Model III–in price only.

Last week, they announced that the 2015 Chevy Spark EV (notice the cars all carry electrical references) will be available in Maryland and the East Coast for $17,000 or so, after Federal incentives.

On the one hand, it’s good to see someone electrify a classic 3 or 4-banger minicar.  It’s also good to see an EV coming in under $20k.  In the Motorweek review above, the Spark EV chirps the tires with an equivalent 400 lb/ft of torque, and takes 7.9 seconds 0-60.  The car can recover 80% of it’s charge in just 20 minutes using a fast charger, according to Chevy.

There’s a lot more good news with the Spark EV:

The four-passenger, five-door Spark EV is available in 1LT and 2LT trim levels. Additional highlights:

 

  1. Standard Chevrolet MyLink Infotainment system provides a seven-inch-diagonal color touch-screen that shows critical vehicle EV functions and connects with the owner’s smartphone for infotainment 
  2. For those with compatible iPhones, the system brings the Siri Personal Assistant into the car.
  3. Standard OnStar 4G LTE with available Wi-Fi hotspot (includes three-month/3GB trial period)
  4. Standard remote start/cabin pre-conditioning, heated driver and front passenger seats, push-button start
  5. The front brakes include an electro-hydraulic regenerative brake system that captures braking energy – wasted in a conventional vehicle – and transfers it to the battery system.

Very nice.

But…the “X” factor is build, fit and finish.  GM has screwed this stuff up before, hopefully they won’t again.  Vestiges of the ignition switch debacle are still fresh in our heads.

If they do–and I’m in full projection mode now–the damage should stay within the GM brand.  Tesla, Nissan, and the other marques shouldn’t be damaged.  The other thing is that the problems would be expected, to a certain extent.  I believe there’s a slot in people’s minds for GM and US manufacturers screwing cars up. Not to say it doesn’t exist for other marques and cars in general. But people “go there” a little quicker when an American car is involved.

Hopefully they get it right.  After all, Nissan needs a little competition on the low end.  Buy a Leaf for the high 20s/low 30s,  or buy a Spark EV for under 20.  You do the math.

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Sebastian James

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