Setting the Record Straight on the 2014 Chevy Spark EV: Launch Date, SAE Combo Charger Details, No Fuzzy Torque Rating and More

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 46

"Late 2013" Now...Is GM trying to Slip One By Us?

“Late 2013” Now…Is GM trying to Slip One By Us?

There’s loads of information out there on the upcoming 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV.  Some of it’s accurate.  Some of it’s way off the mark.

Here we’ll provide details, mostly directly from General Motors and its various websites, to “set the record straight” as is often stated in industry speak.

Below we’ll provide the most accurate, up-to-date info on the 2014 Chevy Spark EV.  We’ve purposely bolded particular sections that either seem to somehow get lost in translation or mixed up due to GM’s conflicting information that it releases to the media and the public.

Official Window Sticker for 2014 Chevy Spark EV

Official Window Sticker for 2014 Chevy Spark EV

  • EPA Range Rating: 82 Miles
  • MPGe: 128 city–109 highway–119 combined
  • SAE Combo Quick ChargerOptional–Though GM’s Spark EV site says “Late Availability” and notes that compatible stations won’t be around until “late 2013.”
  • HP: 130
  • Torque:  400 pound-feet—Note: This figure looks to be from GM’s “fuzzy math” we’ll say.  It was thought this may not be a direct motor measurement, but rather a measurement of torque after the reduction gear.     UPDATE: Peter Savagian, general director for Electric Drives and Electrification Systems Engineering at General Motors hit up our comments secton when the Spark EV’s range was released to tall us that the Spark’s motor does in fact have 400 ftlb of Torque.   The GD says that “this motor makes 540 Nm (402 ftlbf) of Torque at stall and out to about 2000 rpm. This is not gear- multiplied axle torque, but actual motor shaft torque.”   Pretty amazing, and our thanks to Peter for setting the record straight.
  • 0 to 60 MPH:  Less than 8 seconds “and it won’t be 7.9 seconds,” says Chuck Russell, vehicle chief engineer for the Spark EV. (props to ScottF on the quote)
  • Availability:  Hmm…It get’s a little sketchy here.  GM directly told us “late July,” but now the 2014 Spark EV website says “in limited quantities late 2013.”  We should triple bold this one because the Spark EV website has changed since we last posted a screen grab of it.  Note: Previous screen grab is on right of screen (captured by us 31 days ago).  Current screen grab is at top of this post (captured by us today).
  • Price: Less than $25,000 after incentives (in California, incentives total $10,000, but in Oregon, the other state the Spark EV will launch in, incentives are only $7,500) This makes it difficult to pinpoint what GM is actually saying, but we’d guess GM is only factoring in the $7,500 federal incentive and not adding state-level incentives into the mix.
  • Charge Time: 7 Hours at 240 Volt—This automatically implies that the Spark EV’s on-board charger is a 3.3-kW unit
  • Battery Capacity:  The Spark EV website now says “20 kWh,” but GM press releases still say 21 kWh

    Specs as Listed on Chevy Spark EV Website

    Specs as Listed on Chevy Spark EV Website

We’ve left out some of the obvious and non-disputed details on the 2014 Spark EV, but we think most of the confusing or “lost in translation” topics have been covered here.  If you notice an omission that should be included, then by all means drop us a suggestion in Comments below.

We wish GM would line up its press releases with the info found on its official 2014 Spark EV website, because the discrepancies certainly add to the confusion.  But until that happens, this here is what we hope to be the definitive Spark EV information-overload source.

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46 responses to "Setting the Record Straight on the 2014 Chevy Spark EV: Launch Date, SAE Combo Charger Details, No Fuzzy Torque Rating and More"

  1. Anderlan says:

    Ahh, competition. It will lead some players to become less forthright. I don’t know whether EV makers up until this point included the absolute 100%, to-the-last-Joule capacity of their batteries (which you would never get, because the software keeps you from going that high in order to preserve battery life). Chevy and others may be doing that to cause the rounding to flip up to the next kWh integer. OR, it may be in their interest to go *down* so that their range/kWh ratio looks better. Anyway, get ready for confusion!

    1. Gary H says:

      “It will lead some players to become less forthright.” – I think Ford has already beaten some to the punch on that count!

  2. Gary H says:

    I would *not* wishfully assume that GM is only including the federal incentive. Cynically speaking, I would expect their “marketing math” to skew towards quoting the absolute lowest price possible – the price including California incentive.

    1. Open-Mind says:

      That would imply a price of about $35K. Hope not. They will have a hard time selling these if they’re priced $6K more than a Leaf.

      1. Aaron says:

        I think they’ll still have problems selling them at “only” $3500 more than a LEAF.

        1. scottf200 says:

          LEAF-S_ : $28.80k
          LEAF-SV : $31.82k ~= Spark EV : $32.5k (not officially announced)
          LEAF-SL : $34.84k

          Via: http://insideevs.com/2013-nissan-leaf-199-lease-details-sale-date-for-canada-more-battery-production-in-the-us/

          1. Brian says:

            Congratulations on completely missing / ignoring GaryH’s post which started this particular thread.

            I completely agree with Gary – until GM proves otherwise, I assume that the Spark EV will be $35k, not $32.5k

            1. scottf200 says:

              Several articles/authors mention the $25k and guess it is ~$32.5K then.
              Since the LEAF-S is out everyone loves to use the $28k number for the “LEAF” in general. Reality that model is pretty limited in it’s specs and I suspect they will sell a lot more SVs and SLs. Basic marketing.

            2. JeffP says:

              At $15k fully loaded for the gas version, I could get 2 for the price of the electric. Or, have 15k worth of gas money… the economics are just not there yet to justify this vehicle.

              1. Narg says:

                @JeffP I agree 99%. Except when you weigh in the economics of our environment and availability of fossil fuels in the future… Just adding food for thought.

  3. Josh says:

    I hope the synchronization between the US engineering team and Korean production team are better than the coordination of their marketing/communications department.

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      @ Josh

      Agreed…Hence the difficulty in reporting accurate information. Conflicting info only confuses us all.

      1. kdawg says:

        GM engineering uses UGS PLM Software to coordinate worldwide efforts.

  4. scottf200 says:

    What you gave Tom M credit for the torque info but not the not 7.9 sec article/quote I gave you in the comments

    1. staff says:

      Sorry about that Scott, no slight intended. Fixed!

      1. scottf200 says:

        No worries. Took me some digging as lot of pages with spark ev mentioned. I get the torque number is uncommonly qualified but a second faster than the Volt and LEAF would make for some fun driving and may hit a different target market. Can’t wait for auto folks to test this car out. We need to banish the golf car myth every chance we can.

        1. I agree Scott, it will be a fun EV to drive!

          1. kdawg says:

            Not as fun as the Twizy Renault Sport F1, 0-62 in 6 sec. 😉

    2. To be clear, I don’t have any official information from GM on this, (nobody does as GM won’t speak about it) I’m just speculating. But it’s clear the motor cannot have 400 lb-ft of torque or this would have a 0-60 time of under 4 seconds.

      The Volt has 273 lb-ft of torque and weighs much more yet its 0-60 time is only about a half second slower. The Tesla Roadster has 100 lb-ft torque less and is a rocket. So it’s clear GM is claiming a torque measurement that is inconsistent with what everybody else uses and also different than what they use on their other electric offering. I suppose they accomplished their goal of getting us to talk about it, but personally it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

      1. Dave R says:

        An EV with 400 lb-ft of torque with the same acceleration as an EV with 200 lb-ft of torque, if the higher torque motor had a gear ratio twice as high as the lower torque motor.

        There is more than one way to skin a cat…

      2. KeiJidosha says:

        I wager 400 foot pound torque number on the Spark EV is measured at the Planetary Output Carrier, and not at the Rotor Gear shaft. Gears multiply torque. See 01:15 > http://bcove.me/0tqgrn0t

        1. Yep, I think you have it there. Good find

      3. GSP says:

        The Spark has a much lower numerical gear reduction than most EVs. It is like driving a manual in fourth gear all of the time. The Leaf’s ratio is like driving a manual in second gear all of the time.

        The Spark needs the 400 ft-lb motor to enable the more efficient and “better driving” gear ratio.

        GSP

      4. Narg says:

        Seems to me there are a number of factors you are not considering in your 0-60 time. 1. the weight of the vehicle. This car I would figure might be quite a bit heavier than a normal gas version of the same car. 2. The gear reduction to the wheels. 3. the watt-hours available to the motor from the batteries at any given moment. This includes any power savings put into the system by the car’s computer to help extend battery life. 4. The ability for the motor to spin up quickly. Electric motors are vastly different from gas, in that they do not all turn up as quickly due to many reasons. Though some do turn up much faster, but the eat a ton of electricity to do so.

  5. Josh says:

    I reread the comments where Tom pointed out the fuzzy math torque spec and noticed that I never got my original question answered of what is the weight of the Spark EV? Do we have that yet?

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      @ Josh

      Yes…we have a curb weight estimate provided by GM of 3,000 pounds…Not an exact figure yet.

      1. Josh says:

        Good work, thanks.

  6. Open-Mind says:

    Thanks for the great article Eric.

    The one last key unknown for me … the car’s ETA in other states such as Illinois.

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      Thanks @ Open-Mind

      Arrival in Illinois? GM says most likely never right now…It’s a CA / Oregon only offering for now in the US…Though we suspect GM might add other states later on.

  7. Nelson says:

    GM should make a 4 door Saturn ION BEV.

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

  8. Brian says:

    GM hasn’t set anything straight at all! Since I’m not in CA or OR, I guess I will just sit tight and see what comes. I don’t trust anything GM says today as being final.

  9. GeorgeS says:

    OK lets calculate 0-60 time as follows.
    Volt HP=147
    Spark HP=130
    Volt weight=3800 lb
    Spark wt=3000 lb

    Scale Volt’s 8.5 second 0-60 time as follows:
    8.5 seconds times 147/130 times 3000/3800 = 7.6 seconds

    Sounds about right.

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      @ GeorgeS

      Your 7.6 second time most likely accurate, but it must be remembered that acceleration is more a function of torque than hp.

      1. GSP says:

        Not true. Acceleration is a function of power, not torque. Else my 10 HP 10 ft-lb engine with 100:1 reduction gear could replace a 450 HP 450 ft-lb corvette engine and destroy a stock vette.

        Just as Sir Issac.

        GSP

        1. GeorgeS says:

          The answer is that you need the whole torque speed map, ….which we don’t have. Therefore we are just guessing.

          1. scottf200 says:

            8.5 seems generous for the Volt. MT and Edmonds shows 8.8.

            1. Narg says:

              Edmunds stinks at reviews. Very unprofessional.

      2. chargefan says:

        Power simply is a function of force and velocity, or torque and rpm. High torque at low rpm is always good for acceleration but that is only because it means that there is more power down there also. You can multiply torque at the expense of rpm or vise versa but power is absolute.

  10. Anthony says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t ship a single one without the DC fast charging equipment as standard. Maybe they can swing it without in California and Oregon if there are enough local charging stations, but not anywhere else in America.

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      @ Anthony

      We agree entirely…Maybe that’s why the website shows a delayed launch date. We do know the Combo Charger isn’t quite ready yet…so we’ll see what happens

    2. evnow says:

      Absolutely, why would anyone want to sell without the Franken plug – since there are several thousand charging stations everywhere waiting to be used ?!

      1. scottf200 says:

        They certainly sell quite a few of the the LEAFs without the CHAdeMO tho. They exist in pockets and in certain states and less in 2011.

  11. Malcolm Scott says:

    Ah, by the number of responses here indicates that the Spark EV is high on everyone’s interest. I hope GM does not disappoint.

    There is probably no reason to doubt the validity of the 400 lb-ft of motor torque.

    The Spark EV uses relatively little gear reduction to drive the driveshaft. There is only a single simple epicyclic/planetary gear set that makes up the total reduction. Guess the reduction ratio, but it’s not as much as some other EVs that have conventional electric motor torque outputs.

    Tesla S 85 kWh Performance – 444 lb-ft, 9.73:1 reduction, = 4,310 lb-ft at the axle
    Tesla S 60 kWh – 317, 9.73:1, = 3085
    Leaf – 210, 7.94:1, = 1667
    Volt – 273, 3:24×2:16=6.7:1, = 1910

    Somewhere there is the claim that there is x % powertrain commonality between Spark EV and the Volt. Let’s assume there is commonality in the planetary gear set = 3:24:1 reduction (well at least the ratio being common). A 400 lb-ft torque motor would then produce 1296 lb-ft at the axle. The smaller wheel diameter compared with Volt would provide even more reduction and motive force.

    So I think 400 lb-fts is probably not without justification. GM is using a high torque low speed electric motor.

    However, GM’s flag waving by marketing is unjustified, and to my mind the claims are improper. “…this mini car is best-in-class when it comes to torque, generating more than the Ferrari 458 Italia and Porsche Carrera S”

    True, but irrelevant. It is mischievously and deliberately misleading to a reasonably informed buyer. Many people misunderstand what torque is, and what it provides them.

    With class leading horse power in a very small low weight car having an efficient drivetrain, why does GM bang on about torque? 400 lb-ft of torque is not the reason that the Spark will be quite a spirited vehicle – to the contrary in fact. There must be idiots in the marketing department.

    These very high torque ratings might be something we need to get used to. EV Engineering have announced that with Axiflux they are proving/developing a 23 phase 150 kW 2,800 Nm power train in an EV Commodore. With 2,800 Nm there is no geared reduction, which provides a much lighter power train.

    http://www.carsales.com.au/news/2013/large-passenger/holden/commodore/bright-future-for-electric-commodore-but-not-in-production-35627?intref=ed-news

    In wheel designs will of course be using high torque low speed motors as well.

    1. Narg says:

      “However, GM’s flag waving by marketing is unjustified, and to my mind the claims are improper”

      You’re new to marketing, right?? 😉

  12. Nashco says:

    This report is fuzzy…your supporting info for doubting the torque value is some dude saying “Nuh uh” on a comment section somewhere?!? Try doing some actual research for your claims and ACTUALLY SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT, you know, with facts.

    GM has shown the axle torque values and the planetary gear ratios, do the math yourself and set the record straight.