Available soon in California and OregonThe Chevrolet Spark EV, the first 100% electric vehicle by GM since the EV1, is getting close to its launch date. It'll first be available in California and Oregon in mid-June as a 2014 model, and at some future point, GM will roll it out in other states and countries (so far, plans include Canada, South Korea and "select European markets").
Chevy Spark EV PricingThe first thing to note is pricing. The MSRP is $27,495, but after the federal tax credit of $7,500 that goes down to $19,995, and in California you could have further incentives of $2,500, bringing the final cost to $17,495. That's very cheap considering that you have further savings on gas and maintenance (electric cars have few moving parts and fluids that need to be changed -- even the brake pads wear out extremely slowly thanks to regenerative braking).
There's also a leasing option, and while that will vary from dealer to dealer, GM says it could hit $199 per month with $999 down (which includes a security deposit). This could not only make the Spark EV one of the cheapest and cleanest urban vehicles around. And at those kinds of prices, it might be one of those electric cars that you "get paid" to drive (see explanation for how the math works here).
Efficiency: No sparks wasted...Another thing to note is just how energy efficient the Spark EV is. It helps that it is small and light, but still, 119 MPG-equivalent combined, 128 MPG-equivalent city, and 109 MPGe highway. Those are impressive number, even for an electric car.
For comparison, the original Nissan LEAF is only rated at 99 MPGe combined. GM definitely did something right with this power train.
Driving Range, Charging SpeedDriving range is estimated to be 82 miles with the EPA's methodology. For comparison, the 2013 Nissan LEAF gets 75 miles on the EPA test. The 21 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, made by A123 Systems, has a 8 years or 100,000 miles warranty.
Charging speed is another highlight for the Spark EV. It'll be the first vehicle on the market to have the option of charging with the recently approved SAE combo charger for DC Fast Charging. This will enable the Spark EV to recharge up to 80% in approximately 20 minutes at DC Fast Charging stations when they become available, and GM says that the EV will be "capable of handling multiple compatible DC Fast Charges daily".
Those fast DC stations will not be available immediately, but it is a new standard that should become (hopefully) very common over time.
First of many 100% electric vehicles by GM?It's nice to see GM going back to fully electric cars. The Chevy Volt has been getting great Consumer Reports ratings and has introduced many to the concept of a plug-in hybrid, but I still believe the future will eventually be 100% electric.
It would be great if GM used the expertise developed with the Spark EV (they obviously know how to make a very efficient electric powertrain!) to make a Volt EV that was 100% electric and had a driving range closer to 150-200 miles. Or maybe it would have to be a Cadillac EV to justify the higher price at first (kind of like the ELR, but not a plug-in hybrid).