Official: 2014 Spark EV to Get DC Combo Fast Charge Option Starting in “Late December”

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 72

Spark EV Plugged Into US' First Combo Charger

Spark EV Plugged Into US’ First Combo Charger

Finally, General Motors has put to rest the speculation of when the 2014 Chevy Spark EV will be able to be ordered with the DC Combo fast charge option.

Fast Charge Option to be Available Starting in December

Fast Charge Option to be Available Starting in December

GM had previously stated that the option would be a “late availability” item and at one point suggested it would be offered in “Fall 2013.”

Now, GM officially says that the DC Combo option will be offered on the Spark EV starting in “late December.”

There’s still no word on what the option will cost the Spark EV buyer, but we’d guess it’ll be somewhere between $500 and $1,000.

Should you opt for the DC Combo option?

The answer to that depends on whether or not you think you’ll require fast charging on a require basis and on how long you plan on keeping the Spark EV.

As of today, only 1 DC Combo fast charger exists in the entire US (located at Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego, California).

We expect the build-out of the supporting DC Combo infrastructure to be painfully slow, so perhaps it would be wise to wait a few years prior to deciding whether or not the DC Combo option will benefit you.

Pamela Fletcher, executive chief engineer of electrified vehicles at General Motors, sees it differently, stating:

“The launch of these new charge stations will help improve the convenience and adoption of electric vehicles because they dramatically reduce the charge time.”

They certainly do reduce charge time, but the US’ one station is hundreds (or perhaps even thousands) short of what we need in the US to see any increase in the adoption of electric vehicles as being directly related to DC Combo installs.

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72 responses to "Official: 2014 Spark EV to Get DC Combo Fast Charge Option Starting in “Late December”"

  1. Francis L says:

    Who will pay 500$ to 1000$ for a connector that has no network to support it? And if nobody wants to pay for this, which company will build a network no customer?

    GM has a really bad business decision, the fast charger should be free. And, they should invest in their own network.

    They are just helping ChaDeMo. And when the ChaDeMo network will be too big, it will be too late.

    1. Taser54 says:

      LOL. Tell that to the thousands of Leaf owners who purchased the fast charge option before a network existed in the US (and arguably still does not exist).

      If DC fast charging infrastructure is supported by government money, it will have to support SAE combo charging standard.

      1. Ocean Railroader says:

        Would the DC fast charger be able to take DC current from say DC current from power company’s existing DC current power lines that exist in under US cities. Such as San Fransisco and some sections of Boston and New York City have specialized DC current systems used to power DC current only machines that where mainly built in the 1900’s though the 1930’s. If these EV’s can take DC current it might be possible to add DC charging stations to the bases of some of the power poles that still carry DC current power lines in some of these cities which would give them a new market for DC current power. In that the Market for DC power has not grown since the 1920’s.

        1. Aatheus says:

          Unfortunately not without DC-DC conversion. The SF DC grid runs at ~ 250VDC. Fast chargers like CHAdeMO and SAE-CCS need a range between ~ 150-500VDC (different battery packs, insulation test, and so on).

      2. io says:

        One key difference is, Nissan has heavily invested in that tech. It is actively promoting quick-charging. It stands behind the Leaf.

        GM barely sells enough Spark EV to not be dinged by CARB, and frankly doesn’t give a damn about quick-charging (hence those continuously-missed deadlines)… except maybe when it comes to sabotaging the infrastructure roll-out.

        If government money gets spend on quick-charging, then I’d argue that support should be proportional to a combination of number of compatible cars on the road, and committed production capacity.

  2. David Murray says:

    I suspect this has been holding back spark EV sales. Lots of people probably waiting for DC option. For example, I bought my Leaf in 2011 without Dc option because there was no infrastructure to support it. But now there are 24 DC stations in my area and I can’t use any of them.

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      Spark sales are restricted by GM’s lack of making enough of them. There’s no production on GM’s behalf, so there really can’t be any sales. It’s a shame really and hopefully GM changes its mind and ups production soon.

    2. That is why we didn’t get one. I would have a real problem with the slow charge rate and was fortunate that the FIT EV came up about the same time.

      I have asked how much the combo charger is so I could consider it at my office but have never received a reply let alone a quote.

      1. Taser54 says:

        The Fit EV is a captured fleet and a very limited model. If offers NO competition to the Spark EV because they are not available anymore.

    3. Aatheus says:

      I got my Leaf once there was 1 (!) CHAdeMO station in Belmont. I’m so glad that I did. Now I can go from San Jose to Santa Rosa in 3hr instead of 8.

  3. Bill Howland says:

    Yeah, I really don’t understand why GM went this way… I bet if Bob Lutz was still around, to maintain worldwide compatibility/standardization with just one method for the whole world he would have probably gone with the world wide winning standard, Chademo.

    We are going to have precious few L3 chargers in Upstate NY in any event (probably at most 1 or 2 model S superchargers), that this won’t be an option here anyway.

    GM WOULD HAVE had a consistent worldwide policy if they had kept their J1772 standard for small and medium ev’s, and then had a J1772 / chademo option for their top-of-the-line EV’s Worldwide, or as an option for the lower priced EV’s for drivers who needed L3.

    So what if its mimicing exactly what Nissan’s foresighted plan apparently is?

    1. Brian says:

      FYI, I spoke with an individual on NPID who claims that the NYS Thruway Authority is considering working with NYSERDA to install dual standard (SAE and CHAdeMO) quick chargers at the rest stops. Quite a turn of events since I last contacted the Thruway Authority on the topic! I guess EVs really are here to stay!

      1. KenZ says:

        OK, that’s interesting for sure. And that’s the type of place where these are really needed (more than at malls). But SOMEONE has to support it. Major chicken/egg problem. Tesla is solving that issue by doing it themselves, but what’s the advantage for GM, or Nissan, or some other manufacturer to do it, unless… they give their brand’s owners a lower discounted rate, or free charging up to 200 kWh/year, then charge them, while charging flat rate for other vehicles from the beginning.

        Either way, chicken/egg needs to be solved. That can be done by gov’t (possibly poorly), or industry, but someone in industry needs to commit, and have a financial basis for doing so. It’s gonna be a loooooooooong time until break even though.

        1. ModernMarvelFan says:

          IMHO, DC faster charging is kind of “useless” for small battery cars. The 30 mins charging for every 1hr of hwy cruising is UNACCEPTABLE to most drivers…

          It is ONLY useful for large battery cars such as Tesla. A 200 miles EV would make sense. Until then, DC chargers will continues to be a terrible business model.

        2. Ocean Railroader says:

          There is this one giant Susi Buffet in Williamsburg VA that is sort of half way between the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and Richmond. I’ve always thought it would make a great location for a DC Fast Charger for the Nissan Leaf and a Tesla Supercharger do to it’s location of having something to do and it’s good location between the two cities. In that if they put a DC super charger there it would allow someone to drive a Nissan Leaf from Virginia Beach to Richmond.

      2. pjwood says:

        PA had similar news, but with a longer time frame, for I76 I think. They were considering L2 (pls, don’t start re:L2 on highways), but it was to be followed with L3.

        I disagree on L3 not cutting the mustard with these cars. Saving 1, or 2, thousand on fuel per year is a good number to divide over the couple hundred minutes those longer trips would force you to sit by an L3 station. Its moot w/o the EVSEs.

  4. Robert says:

    I see it as a smart move by GM and here’s why:

    If i was buying a new car, an extra $500 + could be easily built in to my budget / finance. The psychology of the decision would be kind of: “hmmm better get that option, just in case this DC combo thing gets built out – wouldn’t wanna miss out – and it’s only an extra 500 bucks”.

    Fast forward ahead and in a years time we’ve got 10000 cars on the road, all with DC combos installed, and 10000 owners chomping at the bit, which creates a market for the charger and a driving force for an infrastucture build out.

    Kind of like carrot and donkey.

    Rob

    1. io says:

      At the pace the Spark is selling so far, it’d take a decade to get past 10’000. And apparently, even 37’000 Leafs and i-MiEVs drivers don’t generate enough revenue to keep all charging stations operators alive, so that doesn’t bode well for CCS.

      A much more likely scenario: “Hmmm, no infrastructure, better just lease”.
      And of course, not get the option.
      No chicken, no egg, no problem… right, GM?

      1. Robert says:

        Well yeah but:

        the spark is doing better in its first 4 months than the Model S did in its first 4, AND is supply limited and is only sold in two states.

        If GM grew some ba….errr batteries maybe sales would pick up even more.

  5. Nate says:

    SAE vs. Chademo vs. Supercharger network vs. something else.

    All I can say is – glad I leased. ‘Ownership’ of new tech is overrated.

  6. Anton Wahlman says:

    To say that Chademo is winning the DC 440 volt charging race, is equivalent to saying — in January 2007 — that BlackBerry, Palm and Nokia/Symbian had won the smartphone race once and for all, because together they had very close to 100% of the market at the time. Almost all car makers have agreed on a common standard, and as it rolls out over the next 5 years it is likely to have dwarfed Chademo by 2018.

    1. Aaron says:

      Except that CHAdeMO has thousands of cars already on the roads that support it. The combo standard, not so much. Yes, that will change, but only forcibly so. For example, the EU’s directive to eliminate CHAdeMO-equipped cars by 2018. That’s not allowing the market to decide, that’s forcing the issue.

      These two standards will live side-by-side for many, many years to come.

      1. Brian says:

        Actually, I think that’s a very interesting comparison. Certainly most people didn’t think that Apple could overtake BlackBerry in the smartphone business. I personally had a Palm Pre which I begrudgingly gave up for an Android when it came time to replace it. Both BlackBerry and Palm together certainly had thousands of users already when Apple introduced the iPhone.

        I think it will be interesting. I will continue to push for the infrastructure to be dual-standards to really let the market decide.

      2. io says:

        …except, the EU never had such directive, and likely never will.

        Read the latest draft: before 2019, both CHAdeMO and CCS are equally acceptable. No preference.
        Decision on what will come afterwards has NOT BEEN MADE, and I’d reckon that something better than whatever we have today might be in order by then anyway.

        Regarding comparing a cellphone to a car: vehicles remain in use about 5x longer on average, so the shift which happened over a 6-year span in the cellphone business would take two or three decades when it comes to vehicles and related infrastructure.

        I think it’s fair to say that in 20 years, most of us won’t care much which of CHAdeMO or CCS prevailed anyway (who still uses VHS? Betamax anyone?).
        Also, why bother introducing CCS, years too late, which really does nothing better or faster than CHAdeMO anyway? We don’t need another DCC or MiniDisc; get that DVD working already, guys!

        1. Brian says:

          I believe that ~100kW is a sweet spot for fast charging, which the max for SAE (90kW), CHAdeMO (100kW) and Tesla (120kW). Looking at the Tesla Model S, you have to stop every 250 miles for less than an hour. That’s about what you need anyway for bathroom / food breaks.

          “Hypercharging” or whatever they’re calling it, is cool but mostly unnecessary. It will have applications in heavy transport like trucks and buses, but not so much for personal transport.

    2. Ocean Railroader says:

      Would the DC fast charger be able to take DC current from say DC current from power company’s existing DC current power lines that exist in under US cities. Such as San Fransisco and some sections of Boston and New York City have specialized DC current systems used to power DC current only machines that where mainly built in the 1900′s though the 1930′s. If these EV’s can take DC current it might be possible to add DC charging stations to the bases of some of the power poles that still carry DC current power lines in some of these cities which would give them a new market for DC current power. In that the Market for DC power has not grown since the 1920′s.

      There are some DC power systems in existence that have 440 volt and 750 volt DC and even 1500 volt DC power.

      http://www.insulators.info/pictures/?id=54850462

      http://www.insulators.info/pictures/?id=321318947

      http://www.insulators.info/pictures/?id=54853867

      If the EV’s chargers can be made to take DC current from these old DC systems they both would benefit in that it would help make the old 1920’s DC systems relevant in today’s power world. It would also help spread out the needs to put in large amounts of DC car chargers.

  7. Assaf says:

    Anyone knows when the Spark EV is going nationwide? Or has it already?

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      No nationwide commitment from GM…

      1. Warren says:

        At this point, my friends in central Virginia, and rural New York can only dream of DC fast charging. Their DC ports are collecting dust.

        There is a 120 volt outlet “for EV use only” at a rest stop half way between Charlottesville, and Richmond. A great use of my tax dollars! 🙂

        1. Ocean Railroader says:

          There is this one giant Susi Buffet in Williamsburg VA that is sort of half way between the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and Richmond. I’ve always thought it would make a great location for a DC Fast Charger for the Nissan Leaf and a Tesla Supercharger do to it’s location of having something to do and it’s good location between the two cities. In that if they put a DC super charger there it would allow someone to drive a Nissan Leaf from Virginia Beach to Richmond.

          Personally I would never sitting around a Rest Area for four or six hours in that there is something creepy about them general.

      2. Warren says:

        Sorry. Meant the above to be a response to the charging comments.

        On the Spark EV. It is a real shame the Spark is only a compliance car, so far. I think it is one of the best available, and would do very well nationally.

  8. There are several exhibits at Plug-In 2013, this week at the San Diego Convention Center downtown.

    I couldn’t tell from the photos either. But handling these things tells the story.

    I love that Chademo has a large and growing deployment, and I applaud Nissans commitment to deployment. But if a family looks at the Leaf and Spark and i3, and is savvy enough to ask about fast charging, it’s going to be tough for a petite or even medium sized woman to get behind the decision to buy the car that will be a challenge for her to fuel away from home.

    Charging should not be a daunting task.

    1. David Murray says:

      I can’t think of any reason why Chademo has to be big and bulky. Sure, the cable has to be thicker than an L2 charging cable. I understand that. But ultimately, they can redesign the handle if they want. Just look how many different J1772 connectors already exist. Some are much better than others.

      1. Eric Loveday says:

        It’s about reliability. The CHAdeMO standard is proving to be indestructible and when a unit costs as much as they do, then you’d sure like them to never fail. They could make it less bulky and some of the newest CHAdeMOs are going that way, but at what cost? Units being destroyed or out of service often?

    2. io says:

      Don’t be ridiculous seeing challenges where there is none. My wife is one of those feather-weight Asian 5-footer. She has no problem whatsoever handling even the original Yasaki CHAdeMO handle.

      As a matter of fact, she much prefers doing that than pumping gas. One reason might be, as she tells me, she can stay on the phone while plugging in 🙂

      The only part she thinks is more difficult than a gas pump handle is lining up the connector with the inlet; you can’t just shove it in without looking.
      While I obviously haven’t had a chance to try a CCS handle, I highly suspect that its taller footprint and very asymmetric layout would actually make it HARDER to insert just right.

      No, frankly, among the first questions from someone savvy enough to ask about quick-charging would instead be “Ok, where can I charge?”.

      And in the case of the Spark or i3, the next one might be “What do you mean, not even here, or any other dealership?!”

  9. If you have ever handled a Chademo, and then a Combo, side by side, you’ll quickly see why Combo will ultimately win. From a user perspective, it’s no contest. The Chademo is a like handling a fire hydrant fixture. It’s a two handed operation. Most women would not be happy about having to wrestle a Chademo into place.

    1. Aaron says:

      Where did you get to compare the two? They really don’t look much different in size to me:

      1. Aaron says:

        A better picture:

        1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

          The difference is that the net add for SAE is a small bit beneath the L2 connector, so that there’s a smaller barn door and less space/weight vs having to have both the J1772 L2 and the entirely incompatible/separate chademo.

    2. Eric Loveday says:

      Another pic…I’d say it would come down to user preference. I prefer the robustness of CHAdeMO. Others may prefer the less bulky SAE Combo

      1. vdiv says:

        Eric, for completeness could you show the Tesla plug? Then it will become clear why both the CHAdeMO and the CCS are losers.

        1. Eric Loveday says:

          Nope. Tesla wins easily. No need to even show it

          Edit: Note: I put the smack down on Jay with all those images…he’s left the “building” now.

          1. Jay Cole says:

            You so mean, lol. Here is a shot we took of it at the Frankfurt auto show last month:

            1. Eric Loveday says:

              That looks way too blown up…You trying to put down Tesla Jay?

              This shows it more accurately:

              1. Eric Loveday says:

                Mennekes…Dirtier than ever:

                1. Eric Loveday says:

                  Finally…some sort of Mennekes to Tesla thingy for the Netherlands:

        2. Taser54 says:

          Telsa plug is not compatible in the US for SAE or CHAdemo DC charging standards so, it will be sitting on the sidelines looking pretty and unable to use the forthcoming vast number of DC chargers.

          Enjoy the supercharging network. It will be all Model S owners will have.

          1. GeorgeS says:

            I thought that Tesla could use SAE chargers with the proper adapter. I saw a Tesla charging this weekend in Tucson at the plug in day using the charger behind Bookmans Sports exchange.

            1. Aatheus says:

              They can only use 240V AC @ 80A. They cannot use the DC fast charging portion of SAE-CCS plugs.

          2. Jeff D says:

            Unless supercharging becomes the standard. It would be cheaper for the other companies to licence a better technology that already exists than trying to build out a standard that is still second or third best.

        3. Suprise Cat says:

          Design != Durability

          I doubt the Tesla plug will survive many years…

    3. io says:

      ElectricCarInsider, get yourself informed a bit before you claim to be an insider.

      Take that, CCS…

      http://www.chademo.com/wp/chademo-connectors/
      http://charge.yazaki-group.com/english/product/quick_outlet_neo.html

      1. io says:

        (Hmm, how do I link pictures? 2nd try, sorry in advance if it’s not better than the first…)

        1. Eric Loveday says:

          CHAdeMO one more time:

  10. kdawg says:

    Meh.. give me 300kW wireless charging.

    (or universal battery swap)

    1. Raymondjram says:

      Put up a lightning rod, Frankenstein-type , on your roof, and you can charge for free (only when there is n electric storm in the area).

  11. GeorgeS says:

    How are all these expensive combo chargers going to get funded.??

    I thought the government money had all run out and Ecotality is bankrupt.

    Seems like Tesla is the only company with a decent supercharger plan.

    1. GeorgeS says:

      I vote for apartment buildings. Forget the shopping centers because people already have charged at home.

      I was at the Plug in weekend event in Tucson and they had a L3 charger stuck behind a Bookmans Sports exchange.

      This kind of willy nilly placement of chargers makes no sense. Only Tesla understands.

      1. My girlfriend charges a lot at shopping centers. She tells me it’s her favorite place to charge 😉

        1. On a more serious note, shopping center and other commerce areas make a lot of sense, both for the retailer, and the EV driver. My Focus Electric has 73 miles of range when I leave the house in the morning. Every time I stop somewhere for an hour and charge, it has 20 miles more range. That’s more range without having to pay a lot more for a battery, like I did in the Model S. So for $1 each time I stop and charge for an hour, it’s like having a bigger battery, for a whole lot less money. As a consumer, I like that. Keep it coming, Kohls, Walgreens, Walmart, and all those other places I never used to shop, but now do. You’ve won me over.

  12. Bloggin says:

    The Spark EV needs the CD Combo Charger because it comes with the slow 3.3kWh onboard charger like the Leaf S. Which would take 7 hours to charge at 240v. Unlike the Focus Electric that can charge in 3.75 hrs at 240v.

    Not sure why so many are obsessed with the Japanese DC charger, since even Nissan will be dropping it with the next gen Leaf in MY2016.

    2014 should bring several vehicles with the DC Combo Charger, like the Chevy Spark EV, Chevy Volt, BMW i3, i8, Honda Fit EV, Focus Electric, Kia Soul EV, etc. And 2015 brings even more.

    1. kdawg says:

      The Leaf S can be purchased w/a 6.6kW charger and it’s standard on the SV.

      Currently the Focus EV does not have HSDC charging. I have not heard that they will be offering it in 2014. Do you have a link?

      1. kdawg says:

        Oh, and the Volt will not be getting a DC quick charger (unless you have a link on that too).

        1. io says:

          And Nissan isn’t dropping anything [1], the i8 won’t fast-charge either [2], and both Kia Soul [3] and quick-charge-capable Fit EV [4] come with CHAdeMO.
          We could add the Mitsu Outlander, the first quick-chargeable PHV… and it uses CHAdeMO as well [5].

          In other news, Bloggin has no clue what he’s talking about… no wait, is that even news?

          [1] http://nissannews.com/en-US/nissan/usa/releases/nissan-to-add-electric-vehicle-quick-charging-at-more-than-100-u-s-leaf-certified-dealerships
          [2] http://www.caranddriver.com/photos-11q3/411781/bmw-i8-concept-charging-port-photo-421172
          [3] http://www.plugincars.com/quick-chargers-new-kia-dealership-proves-kia-soul-ev-its-way-127786.html
          [4] http://world.honda.com/news/2012/4120831Lease-Sales-Fit-EV-Japan/photo/pages/08.html
          [5] http://www.caranddriver.com/photos-12q3/477361/2013-mitsubishi-outlander-plug-in-hybrid-charging-port-photo-477775

  13. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    Me, I would rather have a higher amperage L2 option, I’d get more use out of a charger that could handle J1772’s max L2 power..

  14. Nashco says:

    The DC fast charge option for the Spark EV can be ordered with RPO code CBT, which also includes code STO for the “remote stop” key fob. It is a $750 option that can be ordered independent of other options. Not sure where it can be found published on the internet, but I am one of the people that already ordered mine and this is the published option price in GM internal documentation.

    I’m excited to see San Diego has their combo charger up and running. Word has it that we’re expecting one in Portland very soon as well.

    Bryce

  15. Roy_H says:

    Wow! All this crap about incompatible systems and nobody understands? There are a lot more similarities than there are differences.

    CHAdeMO chargers can be retro-fitted to have a second SAE J1772 L3 cord and plug. This way the charger will support both standards.

    Tesla has an adapter for the CHAdeMO and will soon have an adapter for the SAE J1772 L3 DC charging system. The CHAdeMO and SAE systems both have programmable output voltage which the car sets according to its needs. The Tesla Supercharger is cheaper because it is a fixed voltage suitable only for Teslas, but the Tesla Model S can communicate with the SAE or CHAdeMO charger and set the right voltage.

    Eventually all CHAdeMO chargers will be fitted with second SAE L3 plug.
    All EVs will be able to use these chargers.

    This is not an either/or problem. Both will work together. Eventually the CHAdeMO will loose, because it is bulkier, more awkward to use, more expensive to manufacture and believe it or not more prone to damage (due to 8 small pins for communications vs 2 sturdier ones used by SAE and Tesla).

    1. io says:

      Er, nope. I don’t think most of what you’re saying is correct, but if you have sources that would corroborate your claims, please share with us.

      * Most CHAdeMO QCs can’t be modified in any cost-effective way, if at all. Stating that they will all be is pure fantasy.
      * While Tesla has indeed promised a CHAdeMO adapter, I am not aware of any announcement regarding any other protocol.
      * CHAdeMO is more compact than SAE-CCS (at least the US version)
      * If the pricing of both quick-chargers and QC port option on the vehicle is any indication, CHAdeMO is also cheaper (not that it matters much, but let’s be accurate here).
      * The US version of SAE-CCS uses 7 pins; the EU variant has 9, just like CHAdeMO (same wordwide).
      * There is no indication whatsoever that CHAdeMO connectors would be more susceptible to damage. If anything, history would paint a very different picture: CHAdeMO has proved itself through 4 years of use. On the other hand, the only UL-approved CCS connector is manufactured by Rema, maker of the J1772 handles used on Blink L2s and famous for overheating problems.

  16. Roy_H says:

    What the Spark EV needs is 6kW+ L2 capability! Fast DC charge is nice, but faster L2 (230VAC) capability is much more important.

    I would think that most people would order this option “just in case” even if they have no plans to use it. It could also be why GM has been slow to manufacture and deliver these cars, and I expect higher production and widespread availability early next year.

    1. Tim_B says:

      The lack of the 6kW charger in the Spark is the only reason I walked away from the car. Loved it otherwise, but the installed 3kW charger is a deal breaker. The fast DC charger, in my opinion, is a lousy way to compensate for the insufficient approach in the first place. Fix the lame 3kW L2 charger and the game changes. DC charging won’t change the game without chargers.

  17. Mike David says:

    Why can’t GM have an adapter from CHAmeDO to SAE adapter like Tesla has and sell $1500?

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