General Motors plans to start selling its new Spark EV in South Korea by the end of the year and is preparing plans to launch the vehicle in Europe as well, Chevrolet officials tell TheDetroitBureau.com.
The Spark EV went on sale in California last month and while GM officials declined to offer sales projections for the Spark, they said they are quite optimistic about the long range prospects for the battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, particularly in key urban markets.
“We expect growth in this segment,” said Chevrolet communications director Mike Albano. “We’re bullish on the electric vehicle market.”
GM began selling the Spark EV, its first pure electric vehicle since the ill-fated EV1, last month. The base price for the battery version of the Chevrolet Spark subcompact is $27,495 – though that drops to $17,495 after the application of a $7,500 federal tax credit and another $2,500 credit from the state of California.
As with rival Fiat’s 500e battery car, Chevy also is offering a $199 per month lease on the Spark EV – but another selling point is that owners get access to urban California’s coveted HOV lanes.
Consequently, 38% of EVs sold in the U.S are purchased in California, GM representatives noted, a figure in line with data from other makers such as Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co, which have also experienced strong demand from battery-based vehicles in the Golden State.
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GM’s global product development director Mary Barra late last year revealed plans to put 500,000 vehicles on the road in the U.S. with some form of electrification by 2017 – a goal the maker’s CEO repeated last week.
GM’s electrified vehicles today include the extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt, the battery-powered Spark EV and four more models – Buick’s LaCrosse and Regal, Chevrolet’s Malibu and Impala — with the “mild” hybrid eAssist system. The maker has revealed plans for a second plug-in, the Cadillac ELR which will reach U.S. showrooms in mid-2014.
GM has meanwhile started marketing the Volt in a number of countries around the world, including China, and it has launched an Opel version of the plug-in, the Ampera.
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“Sustainability is not only a key part of how GM is shifting from a good to great company, it is about the leadership and innovation that can transform the auto industry,” said GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson. “Our long-term approach to sustainability enables us to increase efficiency and reimagine personal mobility to best meet customer needs and lifestyles,” Akerson said.
Christy Landry, director of marketing for Chevrolet Small Vehicles, also said EVs are bringing new, younger customers into Chevrolet showrooms. In addition, the Chevrolet Volt is now the top-selling plug-in hybrid in the U.S. and Volt owners are all but universally satisfied with the vehicle, according to recent studies by J.D. Power & Associates.
In fact, the vast majority of Volt owners say that when it comes time to buy their next vehicle, they will not buy a vehicle with a conventional powertrain, Landry noted. Most Volt owners report they would also purchase the Volt again and have become advocates for the Chevrolet brand.
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That said, sales of the plug-in have lagged behind the maker’s forecast since its launch in late 2010. Chevrolet recently took steps to cut the effective price of the Volt hoping to boost demand. Nissan helped kick-start sales of its Leaf battery-car with a major price cut earlier in the year and other makers, including Ford and Honda, have followed with price cuts on some of their own battery-based vehicles.