Chevrolet Spark is facing tougher challenges in EV market

Article by Anita Panait, on July 24, 2013

When General Motors launched the Chevrolet Spark EV in California and Oregon, the carmaker went away with the fanfare tied to the launch of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. During the launch of the 2010 launch of the Volt, GM touted an eventual nationwide retail footprint as well as high sales expectation. GM is now changing its electrification strategy by shifting its focus onto making plug-in cars, instead of conventional hybrids.

But GM would be facing some challenges like the still lukewarm driving public reception for EVs as well as the possible price erosion of such units due to the entry of many players, the latest being GM.

Cristi Landy, marketing director for Chevy's small and electrified vehicles, remarked in an interview with Automotive last week that the difficult thing is that that EV segment is a “small, slow-growing market” that a number of players are moving into. She noted that that there would be “some adjustments or course corrections." Those adjustments can already be seen.

For instance, Ford trimmed last month the price of its Focus Electric by $4,000. Nissan also trimmed in February the price of its Leaf unit by $6,400 to $29,650, including shipping. Ford’s move in part prompted GM in June to offer a cash rebate of $4,000 on the 2013 Volt.

Carmakers sold a total of 41,447 EVs and plug-ins in the US in the first half of 2012. GM and other carmakers has to develop EVs to comply with California's environmental regulations, which require that zero-emission vehicles account for around 15.4 percent of new-car sales in the state by the 2025 model year. GM receives some credits for Volt sales under California's regulations, but was not enough to comply with the requirements. Similar requirements were adopted in nine other states in the US.

Mini cars are designed for easy, convenient driving. The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV is all that and more. It runs with no gasoline since it is purely electric. Yet, it possesses impressive power for an urban mini-car. It delivers instant torque of 400 lb.-ft (542 Nm) of drive unit, 8 seconds of 0-60 acceleration, a 90 mph top speed. All these are brought about by the Chevrolet Spark EV’s GM-built motor. This essentially makes the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV the convenient car for a fun and easy drive.

Since it does not run on fuel, the Chevrolet Spark EV is equipped with a 21-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This is the source of the energy during charging and it is the same source for the Spark EV’s regenerative braking capability. The Chevrolet Spark EV can run up to 82 miles which is the equivalent of 119 MPGe fuel economy on an EPA-estimated city/highway. This makes the Chevrolet Spark EV the most efficient among all electric vehicles in the US retail market.

The Chevrolet Spark EV comes with three available levels of capability for recharging. This includes the SAE combo charger for DC fast charging, the first one approved for use in the market. This allows 80% battery charging in a mere 20 minutes. To further extend the Chevrolet Spark EV’s battery life and range of distance, it also comes with an active shutter system on the grille opening, aero refinements, and unique tires and wheels.

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