Yesterday GM announced it would make an electrified version of its Spark minicar – its first full EV since the EV1.
The company said the Spark EV will start out as a limited production offering in select global and U.S. markets, beginning in 2013.
“The Spark EV offers customers living in urban areas who have predictable driving patterns or short commutes an all-electric option,” said Jim Federico, global vehicle chief engineer for electric vehicles at Chevrolet. “It complements Chevrolet’s growing range of electrified vehicles, including the Volt extended-range EV and the 2013 Malibu Eco with eAssist technology.”
A few details
What is known is it will be all-electric and powered by A123 systems lithium nanophosphate chemistry.
These batteries are said to utilize nanoparticles to increase the battery cell’s storage surface area, facilitating quicker storage and release of electrons.
GM said feedback from Chevrolet’s electric vehicle demonstration fleets in Shanghai (Sail EV), Korea (Cruze EV) and India (Beat EV) are being incorporated into the Spark EV.
“Our global demo fleets continue to provide insight into the needs of electric vehicle customers living in urban environments,” said Federico. “The Spark EV is another step in Chevrolet’s plan to provide customers with a variety of electrification solutions to address the lifestyle and transportation needs of people around the world.”
The vehicle has a bit more bulbous nose than the standard Spark, and unknown is the weight difference between it and the standard Spark.
Also undisclosed is its driving range, recharge time, battery size and other performance measurements are being withheld until closer to launch.
Where the vehicle will be built and what it will cost are further mysteries.
We tried to get additional details, but were told by GM Spokesman Randal Fox that it will have to wait.
“More information on the Spark EV will not be coming until next year,” Fox said.
Into the future
With the Spark EV, GM will be positioned to compete against electric vehicles pending from other automakers.
Aside from Tesla and Nissan, electric models are soon expected from Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Kia.
Among obvious fuel-saving and environmental advantages, these battery powered mobility solutions will also improve their makers’ fleet emissions averages to better meet looming government regulations.
Looking at the horizon with short-term lenses, it could also be observed that GM’s announcement comes during shaky economic times, with gasoline prices having trended lower, and advanced-tech sales recently declined.
But negative forecasts are a risk GM is bucking against with moderate caution, and in its favor, it has recently said it is in the best financial shape it has been in many years.
Long term, the company has reiterated that it believes in electrification, and with the Spark EV, it again put its money where its mouth is, albeit cautiously, given its limited anticipated roll-out.
The little EV will join the list of promised electrified vehicles with the also-anticipated extended-range Cadillac ELR, which will reside on the other end of GM’s luxury spectrum.
GM said ELR development is only now starting, and declined to say when it should be expected.