GM Defers Launch of Chevy Spark EV in Europe

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 22

Chevy Spark EV

Chevy Spark EV Retail Sales Limited to a Couple US States and South Korea

It’s long been known that General Motor’s intention with the Chevy Spark EV wasn’t to sell it globally; but it seems some of the regions around the world that it was promised (or assumed to arrive) have fallen off as well.

Chevy Spark EV in South Korea

Chevy Spark EV in South Korea (GM SK)

The 82 mile electric car from GM now looks to be more and more strictly a compliance EV, as some would say.

In the US, the Spark EV is still only available in 2 states (California and Oregon).  And while it was thought the Spark EV might go nationally in the US, InsideEVs spoke to a GM representative recently and learned the company as “no plans” to expand the roll-out right now.

As of the end of September, US sales of the Spark EV totaled 310 units.

In Canada, the Spark EV has always been and, will likely forever remain, a fleet-only offering.

In South Korea, the Spark EV hit showrooms for retail sales this month with a starting price of 39.9 million won ($37,586 US), which might sound high until you consider that South Korea offers 15 million won ($14,100 US) in subsidies towards the purchase of electric vehicles.  So you’re looking at an out-the-door price of approximately $23,400 US.  Not too bad.

Now comes word that General Motors is backing down from its initial plan to offer the Spark EV in Europe, according to Green Car Reports.

So, no Spark EV in Europe, at least not in the near future.

Spark EV Helps You "Find New Roads" and Save Lots of Cash - Provided You Live Where It's Actually Sold...Which Apparently Won't be in a Lot of Places

Spark EV Helps You “Find New Roads” and Save Lots of Cash – Provided You Live Where It’s Actually Sold…Which Apparently Won’t be in a Lot of Places

This runs counter to what GM had stated previously.  It’s long been expected that the Spark EV would launch in Europe in 2014.  Quoting a portion of a 9-month-old press release from General Motors’ European division:

“The car will be sold in select European markets as of 2014.”

“The Chevrolet Spark EV is anticipated to set a benchmark in performance for an urban city electric car and is powered by the most advanced electric motor and battery system General Motors has ever built.”

It was way back then too when Susan Docherty, President and Managing Director of Chevrolet and Cadillac Europe, stated:

“The Spark EV is a fun-to-drive zero-emission city car with intelligent connectivity. We believe it will resonate particularly well in some of Europe’s most technologically advanced markets.  Just like Volt, this nimble battery-powered vehicle is a proof point for Chevrolet’s ingenuity in delivering smart mobility solutions.”

We can toss all that Europe intel out the door now, as Randy Fox of GM Communications, told Green Car Reports:

Spark EV

Spark EV

“We have decided to defer the launch of the Spark EV in Europe.”

“The market for pure EVs is still in its infancy and volumes are rather low.”

“We will carefully observe how the market develops over time, and react accordingly.”

So, if you reside in Europe and were eagerly awaiting the launch of the Chevy Spark EV, then your wait could end up being for all of eternity.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

22 responses to "GM Defers Launch of Chevy Spark EV in Europe"

  1. Brad B says:

    Chevy should release the car in the rest of the US first, like they have the Volt. It would sell better even in compliance states if people did not fear and question GM’s future support of the car by limiting its distribution within the US. If they do not, it shows they are not serious about BEV’s, AGAIN!

  2. Doug B says:

    By the time they work out that EVs are the future, Tesla, BMW and Nissan will have tied up the market. I was excited for the Spark, fitted my budget and needs, but their lack of vision will see their market share slip.

    1. Volt Owner says:

      I agree GM can go scratch!!! . I own a Volt and love it!!! I have always owned GM vehicles and was waiting for the Spark to arrive in New York State. I teach auto technology and preach GM all of the time. No more though, Fed up with their games.

  3. Assaf says:

    I think they might be right about Europe. The French prefer to buy French, the Germans like buying German and both now have good local offerings to choose – and the British will apparently get on the EV bandwagon shortly after everyone including Somalia gets on board.
    And most Europeans really prefer right now to avoid buying a new car as long as possible.

    However, the Spark no-launch policy in the US is unforgivable. A classic Big Three short-sighted mistake, that also deprives a lot of EV-ripe-and-ready US markets from another good affordable choice.

    1. offib says:

      Yet the Spark may have a good run at every other country that doesn’t produce cars (or buys its own cars). From the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland to Norway, the Spark EV’s performance will definitely stand out even among the petrol cars. The only exception I can make is Ireland, everyone around me doesn’t even know that there are electric cars.

      1. kdawg says:

        Nissan managed to sell ~14K Leafs in Europe.

        1. Assaf says:

          Most of this was before the Renault Zoe was available in France, and before BMW i3 and Smart ED in Germany.
          The biggest European Leaf country appears to have been Norway – and now Norwegians are falling head-over-heels in love with the Tesla S.

          All the other countries are small change in comparison.

          So no, I don’t see a great opening for Spark EV in Europe at the moment. They can probably sell more Sparks in Washington state alone next year, than in any European country with a 5-10 times larger population.

      2. GSP says:

        Norwegians seem to like buying imported EVs. The Dutch and Swiss are not far behind. GM easily could of promoted the Spark EV and CCS DC chargers in Europe.

        GSP

  4. offib says:

    I thought GM was finally but gradually changing for the better. That’s not the case, especially if they wont prove that they actually give a toss to introduce Sparke (sorry) to the rest of the US. GM doesn’t think kindly to pure BEVs, not at all. Shows that old habits die hard.

    I thought GM learned that public appearance is all too important.

  5. David Murray says:

    Some thoughts to ponder:

    Is the Spark EV profitable? Nobody seems to know.

    What if GM has a great new battery tech they plan on rolling out soon? Why waste your time trying to sell a bunch of 84-mile EVs if you have something much better coming out in a year or two?

    1. kdawg says:

      I was kinda thinking that too. Get the Spark out there to show you have a BEV.. meet compliance, etc. Meanwhile, back in the lab, secretly work on your true global platform BEV.

      1. Assaf says:

        Even more: the Spark can provide them with valuable real-life tech info for improving their “White Knight” anti-Tesla BEV (assuming they really have one in the works and not just PR).

        For example, Nissan would have never learned about the ‘wilting Leafs of Phoenix’, had it not rolled out the Leaf nationally and massively.

    2. Spec9 says:

      At the current price, I suspect that it is NOT profitable and that is why they can’t expand sales. If they wanted to expand sales they would have to raise the price but they don’t want to do that because then they would lose ZEV sales in California that they need.

      1. Assaf says:

        Well, if you listen to mainstream auto pundits, GM are “losing money” on the Volt too…

        Since when were the first few months of a brand-new technology launch by a big company evaluated on whether they are “losing money”?

        Seems like this ridiculous benchmark has been introduced only in order to grind another axe at EVs.

        My guess is that w.r.t. US sales, that GM is making the (misguided) decision that they don’t want “waste” too many of their 200k full-Federal-rebate allowance on the Spark.

    3. Brad B says:

      Although Chevy spent a lot of money on R&D to electrify the Spark. That money is spent. Auto manufactures count car development costs as necessary business expenses, and all the government requirements, like crash worthiness engineering, engine efficiency for mileage mandates, pollution controls on exhaust as well EV development. Not to mention what the expenses and the tooling and setup for its manufacturing of the new model cost a car company before a car is sold. They take that all into consideration and they set the price of a car accordingly, on the basis of how many cars of that model they forecast they will sell. They amortize those costs over the life of the model. From that point on the price they sell for has to recoup the cost of goods to build the car, and the labor to build it, and the expenses to run the factory. For each car produced the R&D, tooling, Robot programing gets spread out over the cost of each car sold of the new model. It can be hundreds of thousands of cars before the car makes a profit for the company. The “pundits” that want to make a car like the Spark EV look like a money looser (which for political reasons can be Chevy itself) will add the pre-production costs like R&D and every thing else they can think of and then sell very few cars so they show how much money they lost per car to the California Air Resources Board, for instance. But the reality of their pre-production costs on the Electric Spark is spread out over the cost of the development of the whole line of sparks, just like the other government mandated costs are spread across the line when they begin selling them.
      But if you count the true profitability of the sale of the car based on the difference between the cost of parts and goods to build the car and the labor cost to build it, you come up with a more positive set of numbers and these are why I am sure GM is definitely making money on every Spark it sells. Here’s the rough numbers logic. We know that an ICE Chevy Spark can be purchased at MSRP for as little as$12,000 and with discounts $10,500 or even less. the dealer pays about $10,000. The cost to build the car not counting pre-production costs but only ongoing expenses and cost of goods to Chevy I would estimate at $8000 for an ICE low end Spark. The engine and transmission and all the accessories I estimate cost GM about $4000. This means the an upholstered Spark Glider ready for EV running gear would cost perhaps $4000 for GM to build. It takes quite a bit less parts machining and installation labor cost to install EV specific components into the Spark. The Electric motor and the motor controller/inverter and wires and connectors together cost GM probably around $3000 and that leaves the battery and its packaging to add back in. So we now have an electrified Spark Glider with a cost of $7000 minus about $300 for the decrease in labor to produce and install the electric drive train, or about $6700. Then comes the cost of the battery. The 21.5 kWh A123 battery in the spark probably costs GM $6400, almost as much as the rest of the car but because of savings in the electric build, the completed car costs GM about $13100 to build. Using a fairly standard mark up, we would have an MSPR of $19,848. It would sell to the dealer for about $16,800 and with the right sale from dealer to customer it could be had for $17,500 to an end user like you or me. But right now GM sells it for about $27,000. This is so they reap the benefit of the Government rebate of $7500. From what I understand the dealers are not getting as much margin on the Spark EV as is customary. I read some where that they are getting about $2000 per car and nobody is discounting it. That means that GM builds it for $13100 and sells to dealers for $25000. If this is true and I believe it is likely pretty close, GM is making $12,000 profit on every Spark. I could be off by a couple k here but you get the point, these things are very profitable NOW and when the rebates go away they will still be profitable. By 2015 or 16 the Envia Battery that GM has invested heavily in will be ready and will weigh half as much, cost the same as the present battery and give twice the range and still be very profitable. GM makes $ 2000 on a base ICE Spark and $12,000 on the EV spark. I don’t think there is any doubt they are profitable to sell. But politically, GM still does not want EV’s to succeed. Partly because BEV represent a significant loss of revenue for their dealerships going forward, if all their models ultimately went electric or did so rapidly, it would not work for dealers. It is one of the reasons that Elon abandoned the Dealer model. Most of a dealers profit is from service, and a well engineered and built EV will need little service.

  6. krona2k says:

    Grrrr.. I want some more choice when my Leaf lease is up.

    “The market for pure EVs is still in its infancy and volumes are rather low.”

    and they’ll stay low if you don’t even make them available.

    1. Assaf says:

      I second your Grrr, even though the Spark would be too small for our family’s need anyway…

  7. Suprise Cat says:

    Every week a new death blow to the Combo consortium.

  8. scott moore says:

    On the positive side, the Antarctica rollout is going well…

    1. kdawg says:

      I bet EV’s would work a lot better there than ICE’s. I forget what the name of the village in Siberia is, but in the winter, they have to keep their engines running 24/7. If they turn it off, they can never start it again.

  9. Taser54 says:

    Why should Europe ever get the Spark EV?

    ‘murica first! 🙂

    1. Daniel says:

      Because I want it!