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Chevrolet Confirms New Spark EV Coming to LA

GM’s 1st battery car to share stage with other electrics.

by on Nov.14, 2012

An inside-out look at the new Chevrolet Spark EV.

Battery car proponents are getting charged up about the upcoming LA Auto Show. Chevrolet is the latest maker to confirm it will have some electrifying news to announce at the annual event – in the form of the new Spark EV.

The Chevy minicar will be General Motors’ first pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, since the much-heralded GM EV1 was pulled from the market after the 1999 model-year.

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“The Spark EV and next-generation of MyLink (Chevy’s new infotainment system) demonstrate Chevrolet’s commitment to delivering the advanced technologies that today’s consumers will be eager to adopt and truly value,” said Chevrolet General Marketing Manager Chris Perry.

Chevy already offers GM’s first plug-in hybrid, the Volt, which has seen significant sales gains this year – though it is still expected to fall short of an earlier goal of 45,000 units in 2012 in the United States market.

GM is now focusing on a two-pronged approach to electrification, with plug-ins that also will soon include the Cadillac ELR, as well as pure BEVs like the Chevrolet Spark EV.

The latter is based on the same platform as the recently launched Spark minicar, the smallest model the GM has ever sold in the U.S.

The maker isn’t providing details, yet, waiting to take the spotlight in Los Angeles, but TheDetroitBureau.com has learned that the Spark EV is expected to have about a 50% larger battery pack than the Volt.  That’s no surprise as it is designed to run exclusively in electric mode with no “range-extending” gasoline engine as back-up.

The lithium-ion battery pack in the Chevy Spark EV will use a different chemical formulation, as well.  It will put more of an emphasis on so-called “energy density,” meaning it is designed to store as many kilowatt-hours of energy as possible in a given mass.  That’s critical considering the miniscule size of the Spark subcompact.

Nonetheless, the Spark EV is expected to sacrifice a fair bit of passenger and cargo space.

The maker’s goal is to have “class-leading” range, a well-placed source tells TheDetroitBureau.com, which is likely to mean an EPA-rated range approaching 100 miles per charge.  That would put it ahead of the likes of the Nissan Leaf.

The new Chevy battery car, meanwhile, will primarily be targeted at urban users and suburbanites who want a commuter or errand car that puts out zero emissions and sharply reduces annual fuel costs.

Operating costs will be a significant part of the appeal, according to sources. It is likely GM will bring the vehicle in at a substantially lower cost than the Leaf – perhaps as low as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.  With federal tax credits taken into account that could mean under $30,000.

The Chevrolet Spark EV will share the LA Auto Show spotlight with a wide range of hybrid and more advanced battery-based vehicles. That will include the new Honda Accord PHEV plug-in, as well as the Ford C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi plug-ins.

(Nearly 50 new models will debut in LA. Click Here for more.)

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