Since the CAFE stunt with the GM EV1 back in the late 1990′s, General Motors hasn’t had an electric vehicle until now, with the release of the Chevy Spark EV.
Often, when it comes to comparing electric vehicles [EV] with petroleum-powered conventional vehicles, it typically comes down to an apples-vs-oranges problem. You can try comparing vehicles in the same price range, like the Tesla Model S 85kWh and the Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, both in the $80,000 range but wildly different vehicles in body style, technology, and construction. Wouldn’t it be easier to compare two vehicles in the same line, such as the Chevy Spark?
What makes comparisons easiest is when there are different versions of the same vehicle. Chevy Spark comes in two versions. First, the Chevy Spark is conventionally powered by a 1.2ℓ generating just 84hp and 83lb•ft of torque. In order to achieve such excellent fuel economy, the engine can’t be any bigger, the result being excellent fuel economy and mediocre performance. The Chevy Spark EV powertrain is another animal altogether, generating up to 400lb•ft of torque at 0mph.
This sounds great on paper, but what about driving the Chevy Spark EV and her sister? Consumer Reports seems to like what’s under the hood of the electric minicar, noting a few advantages. First, it’s surprisingly affordable, less than $20,000 after incentives, possibly closer to $15,000 depending on what kind of dealer incentives you can tack on. Second, it’s quieter than the conventional version, thanks to the quiet electric powertrain – a 1.2ℓ gasoline-powered engine gets very noisy trying to generate 84hp!
Thanks again to its electric powertrain, it’s exceptionally fun to drive, but you’ll burn through its estimated 82mi range quicker the more fun you have. Consumer Reports does note the lack of an onboard charger, which means that it takes up to seven hours to recharge the batteries [What happened to the supercharger?]. Right now, the only way you can get the Chevy Spark EV is if you live in California or Oregon. Hopefully they’ll expand distribution, soon!