200-Mile Chevy Sonic EV Coming In 2016

JUL 24 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 96

The source, The Truth About Cars, is known for sometimes being highly speculative and for starting some rather crazy rumors, so take this as unconfirmed at this point in time:

“The upcoming pure electric vehicle being discussed in the wake of the Opel Ampera’s demise will also be sold in the United States, in the form of a Chevrolet Sonic.”

“The Sonic-based EV will reportedly have a 200 mile range, which will presumably come from the new battery that LG Chem (battery supplier for the Volt) is working on right now.”

If true, then we’ll see a 2016 Chevrolet Sonic EV with 200 miles of range.  This EV will presumably be sold in the U.S. and abroad and it’ll be manufactured in Michigan.

There’s some evidence that The Truth About Cars could be on the right track here.  Remember that LG Chem 200-mile battery announcement?  It’s linked to the graphic below.  Notice the 2016 U.S. OEM notation?

LG Chem

LG Chem’s HEV/PHEV/EV RoadMap

And think for a second or two about the previous 200-mile EV comments made by ex-CEO of General Motors Dan Akerson.

So, maybe The Truth About Cars is actually onto something here.

Thoughts on the possibility of a 2016 Chevy Sonic EV with 200 miles of range?

Source: The Truth About Cars

Categories: Chevrolet

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96 Comments on "200-Mile Chevy Sonic EV Coming In 2016"

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Spec9

Hmm. Great to hear about a 200 mile EV from GM. But a Sonic? Uh . . . it better look damn good.

And can you make a convertible version please?

Anderlan

Does a Sonic even have room for a 40kwh battery?

Unfortunately, I would have to assume that any “200 mile car” will really be a 150 mile real world car at best.

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

Well:
Sonic: 173.10″ x 59.7″x
Model S: 196.0″ x 77.3″
Sonic / Model S ~= .68

The answer is pretty obviously yes.

Wouldn’t be 200 miles except maybe on the Nonsensical European Dream Cycle, but would still make a dent. Of course, we’re also talking about a large subcompact rather than a mid-size.

Raymondjram

If the new motor and controller reaches a better than 5 miles per kWh efficiency, then the battery can be smaller. A 7 mile/kWH motor needs just 30 kWH for a 200-mile range.

Sonic…hmm. How about this instead?

Anon

I see tailpipe… Naughty naughty!

Give it nosecone with a font charge port door, and it’s fine.

Call it the Chevy “ReVolt”. 😉

Ed

A smart name, by the way.

Spec9

Lengthen it and make it a four door and I’m in.

Mike H.

NO to the convertible!!!

Sam

Sonic wouldn’t make a good choice. Needs to be cruze or a CUV.

Spec9

It is a tough call. The bigger you go, the much more expensive it is going to be to hit 200 miles of range because you’ll need more batteries.

Whatever they build, it had better be as aerodynamic as all heck. Tesla still seems to be the only one that figured that obvious thing out.

GSP

The bigger you go, the more money you can get for the car. Bigger car = Bigger profit. This is pretty well understood.

Even though battery size and cost goes up also, it does not go up as much as the transaction price does.

Impala would have a much better choice for a 200 mile EV. However, personally I would like a Cruze/Volt size car for every day driving.

GSP

Roy_H

Sonic is just what I want. I sure hope this is true.

Makes sense. Small car, same platform as the Spark EV, room for a Spark-like EV battery pack (not the T-shape of the Volt). I’m guessing 50-55kWh pack.

Hopefully once LG Chem and GM get the $/kWh down through scaling production, they can start outfitting D2XX vehicles with similar EV packs. A 150 mile range Equinox would sure sell a lot of copies, but not at $40,000 (32.5 after rebate). So getting the $/kWh price down is all that matters the next few years in order to have those vehicles be viable in the marketplace.

no comment

50-55KWh might be the part of the battery capacity that you’re *using*, but you don’t use all of the battery. so for an EV with a 200 mile range, you’re probably looking at a 75-85KWh battery pack. that is such an expensive battery pack that it seems hard to believe that they would put it in a Sonic. i was thinking that it would make more sense to use it in a redesigned ELR, which they would then be able to sell in the 6-figure range.

Spec9

No . . . the 60KWH Model S is EPA rated for 208 miles. Surely with a smaller car they can manage 55KWH or so to hit 200 miles.

no comment

something about that doesn’t add up: the Volt has a 16.5KWh battery and gets 37 miles; Tesla has a 60KWh battery and gets 208 miles. what is the MPGe on the Tesla Model S? 150MGPe?

Brian

The Volt has a 17.1 kWh battery but only uses 10.8kWh or so of it. Tesla has a 60kWh battery, but uses a much larger percentage.

A “gallon equivalent” is 33.7kWh. So if the Tesla got 150MPGe, it could go 208 miles on 46.7 kWh (keeping in mind that MPGe is calculated from the wall, and therefore includes charging loses IN ADDITION TO battery capacity).

The 60kWh gets 95MPGe. That means that it uses 72.8kWh to travel 208 miles. This implies a rather inefficient charger. Assuming the car has 55kWh usable, the charger is only 76% efficient.

Bill Howland

“76% efficient”.

Much less than that on 120 volts, as typical for all tesla vehicles. You’re of course, including charging and discharging inefficiencies, as well as all ‘parasitic’ losses charging and discharging, as well as the charging and discharging efficiency of the battery cells themselves…

In view of that, 76% isn’t as horrible as it sounds. But the Volt is usually better at all charge rates, this is true.

Brian

Hi, Bill!

76% actually sounds about right for L1 charging. That’s about what the Leaf is known to get on L1 (due largely to a coolant pump that runs at a full 300W during the entire charge period). The way I understand it, though, Nissan doesn’t use this number for their MPGe rating. They assume L2 charging, which is more efficient (again due largely to the coolant pump running for less time). L2 charging on my leaf is estimated to be about 80-85% efficient.

Do you know offhand how efficient your Roadster is on L1 or L2?

Bill Howland
Hi Brian! No one sentence answer to this unfortunately. The “S” and Rav4EV take about 30% more kilowatt-hours to charge on 110 vs 220. However, seemingly all 220 volt charge rates are pretty much equally efficient no matter what. The Roadster is as bad at 110, but gets even worse if the Power Electronics Module (the PEM) is clogged, as it was when you drove it. Its relatively clean currently, but the thing danced between 24-27 amps on 200 volts at Burdick, when it should have taken the 30 no problem. At 110, the effective charge rate drops to 8-10 amps when the PEM is clogged and you get 1 mile per hour, as opposed to 4 or 5 when clean, and running at 12 or 15 amps. 220 volt operation in the roadster is interesting. Low currents and High currents (10, or 70) are both somewhat inefficient, but still always much better than 110 efficiency. THe highest efficiency charging in the roadster is between 30 and 40 amps at 230 volts. So If I had had a clean PEM, 30 @200 would have been just shy of the most efficient charging point in the Roadster. The chevy volt seems… Read more »
Bill Howland

The one thing I’ve never understood, is, if a 60 kwh tesla s can go 208 miles, shouldn’t a 85 kwh tesla go 295 miles?

The larger battery car is heavier, and thus less efficient.

Brian

True and False. The battery is heavier but the car is not significantly heavier. The 60kWh cars weighs 4,464 lbs and the 85kWh car weighs 4,647 lbs. This difference probably does not account for the difference in efficiency. My guess would be that the 60kWh model uses a larger percentage of the battery than the 85kWh model.

Alonso Perez

Could be inverter efficiency difference as well. The 60 does not accelerate as much, so the inverter is probably more miserly with the watts.

scott franco

Speaking I think for a lot of us, what the hell are you smoking.

Brian

With a typical efficiency of 3.5-4 miles/kWh, he’s right. 50-55kWh is the usable portion of the battery. But that doesn’t mean that the total battery is half again that size!

Does anyone know offhand what portion of the 60kWh Model S’ battery is usable?

GSP

89%

GSP

That would be in line with the LEAF at 88% ( 21 kwh used out of 24 kwh)

Brian

Excellent, thanks! Is it the same 89% for the 85kWh or is there a bigger buffer on the bigger battery?

Spec9

But the Spark is a sub 100 mile range pack . . . it is not going to be easy to squeeze in a 200 mile range pack. I hope they can pull it off.

Well the car is larger so I’m expecting they can fit a larger physical pack in there, so it doesn’t need to all come from battery efficiency. Though I think a substantial portion will come from 1) increased Wh/kg, from 120Wh/kg to 200; 2) module and pack level efficiencies; 3) improved electronics (power inverter, etc.).

GeorgeS

Seems like they could get there now with a 200 mile pack.

for a 500 cycle life battery and 200 mile range comes out right at 100,000 miles.

They could just go with existing Tesla chemistry.

pjwood

Anthony, is there a chance 200wh/kg is met but that gains in displacement aren’t as good? I’m out of my depths, but think that means lighter, but not smaller.

Anthony

Well the volumetric densities haven’t improved nearly as much as the gravimetric densities. In the last 5 years, gravimetric has gone up about 2x but volumetric is up about 20%.

But I really don’t think it’ll be an issue. Given its a pure EV they can figure out how to make the battery pack work with the chassis, and hopefully not take up trunk room.

IDK

“But the Spark is a sub 100 mile range pack . . . it is not going to be easy to squeeze in a 200 mile range pack. I hope they can pull it off.”

Sure they can…it will just be a TWO seater.

kickincanada

I hope it’s not a Sonic – the nameplate needs to be different than the regular ICE vehicle IMHO. Would be nice to see it in a CUV – lets break out of the car only mold!

pjwood

I just don’t see it. Don’t see the “Sonic” customer appreciating it, or paying for it, or for things like on board DCFC. And where is GM going to put 50+kwh in that chassis?

If true, it almost requires a big drop in $$/kwh. Suggesting $100-125? That, or the price is too high, or they take losses and our 200-mile EV becomes CARB-only.

Anon

The Sonic as a BEV is much more appealing than the Spark, imho…

Anderlan

That’s the one thing this move has going for it. The Sonic *is* *slightly* bigger and thus more road-trip-worthy.

Anderlan

It’ll be sold only in CA, where there’s hardly a town you wouldn’t mind stopping in to charge for an hour anyway…

Nate

If they were to make a 200 mile Sonic EV, why would they only sell it in California? I figure they would only sell in California if it they were just making it for compliance purposes — wouldn’t the current Spark EV serve the same purpose with a hell of a lot less investment???

Currently, there is absolutely no advantage to sell a 200 mile battery electric car over a 100 mile range car for CARB compliance.

If GM makes a 150 mile car (sorry, I just seriously doubt it will go 200 miles), it would be to compete against the LEAF with 150 mile range and the Tesla Model 3.

Anderlan

Hmm. If it is indeed national, and priced correctly (LEAF price plus $200-$500 per extra kwh, with great lease deals), I’d break my LEAF lease early for it.

Robert

The Sonic isn’t slightly bigger than the Spark. The Spark is 145 inches, the Sonic 28 inches longer at 173 inches.

GeorgeS

I’m really torn on whether I like the sonic idea.

I think they need a dedicated and unique body style not just an adapted Sonic.

On the other hand I think the sonic sedan is a reasonably good looking car. Just not very unique….and if it keeps the cost down then that’s good too.

Sounds like kind of a bland offering though.

and they better not eat up a lot of interior room with the pack.

taser54

I’d think it will be something like a Buick Verano EV.

Warren

The answer isn’t chemistry, its engineering. We don’t have to wonder how to make a reasonably priced 200 mile range car. You can make a 3000 pound car, with a 33 kWh pack to go 200 miles.

http://illuminatimotorworks.org/about/seven

This was done with cheap Chinese prismatic cells, with 2/3 the energy density of LG cells. That weight difference would offset the airbags, power everything, and infotainment in OEM cars. It has a Cd of .23…slightly better than a Tesla S, but worst the the EV1. But more importantly, it has the same CdA as the old Honda Insight, so it really doesn’t have to that long. Basically, a BMW i3, with extra cells instead of a Rex, a coupe body instead of a crossover. And horrors! You might need fender skirts to get the Cd down.

scott franco

A good answer. The Leaf, even though it is not as heavy as a Tesla, is an overweight car for what it does.

Anderlan

Let’s take a cheap city runabout and make it into our flagship road trip EV? They’r strategery could be better, but I’ll take a big battery however they give it to me.

When you consider what GM is good at, and what they are not…this supposed choice makes a lot of sense.

Major automakers are loathe to introduce a product into their lineup that could bastardize another part. GM is not good at selling small passenger vehicles…so the risk of product creep is mitigated with the Sonic EV.

Nate

An EV with a rated 200 mile range doesn’t make a great “flagship road trip car”. It would be great for weekend trips, but not so hot for real road trips.

For road trips, the rated range ought to be double that, to take into account winter loss, the fact that you can’t expect to drain it completely empty and be able to charge at that exact spot, at real highway speeds in most places the actual range cold be less than what the speeds used in EPA test cycles, and the fast charge infrastructure leaves still leaves a lot to be desired. If I were to take a road trip to from Portland to Yellowstone, Glacier, or Moab there would be a lot of stops to charge if the max range under ideal conditions was 200.

tess1988

the Sonic uses the same platform then the chevy trax and 90% sure of the buick encore so maybe it might be easy for GM to make a EV out of these models as well seeing that engine and other safety parts can be used or moved a bit in the same area of the car, also doesn’t the upcoming volt use the same platform the the cruize?, like i said no only can engines etc be placed in the same area of the car but it can be made on the same production line.

scott franco

With a reasonable lease rate, I’d get one. My leaf lease is up in 2016, and I would jump to another brand to get range.

I highly suspect having a Chademo to SAE adapter available would be a requirement. As I hope I covered adequately before, a 50KWH car without fast charge is a brick with wheels.

The Rav4 EV does quite well with a 45kWh battery and no DC quick charger. Thankfully, next year should make available the JdeMO for Rav4 EV and the Mercedes B-Class ED for quick CHAdeMO charging.

Airton

CHAdeMO for the Rav4 EV Can’t come soon enough, looking forward to it Tony!

Aaron

If the Sonic was a candidate for electrification, why did they bother making the Spark an EV?

taser54

Because it’s likely NOT a sonic. It will be a Buick so as to not canibalize Cruze or Volt 2.0 Sales on the same lot. Electra, it will be. Peyton Manning ad will be, “Charge THAT car!”

Spec9

Because they probably took their smallest/lightest car to electrify.

Nate

I always thought of the Spark EV as serving more than just a compliance car, but also as a engineering and market research project that let them get some real feedback for subsequent generations. Reason being was that GM seemed to be making substantially more investments in battery tech than some of the other companies that only had compliance BEV’s. That may or may not be the case, just a guess.

GSP

+1. That makes sense.

GSP

I like it a lot and it makes sense.

By 2016-2017 anyone with a 70-80 mile BEV is going to be road kill. Nissan, Tesla and most others will have affordable 150-200 mile BEVs by then. If GM can deliver a 200 mile Sonic with a price that starts in the $20s, they will have a winner on their hands.

The Volt and Spark are both pretty solid, so I have some confidence they can pull it off.

Spec9

A 200 mile Sonic that starts with a price in the $20Ks is pure fantasy.

I don’t think Tesla will pull off their 200 mile car for $35K.

I assume that GM is losing money on their sub 100 mile range Chevy Spark EV which costs $28K . . . how could they magically more double the range?

Bigger battery EVs are coming and the battery prices are gonna drop a little . . . but I think people are over-estimating the price drop. Nissan just admitted that they will lose money on that battery replacement program they announced.

Actually, it’s much closer to reality than fantasy. It’s also pretty sharp of GM to pick the Sonic to convert to a cheap EV.

A brand new 2014 Sonic has an MSRP of only $14K. If you delete the engine, trans and other ICE-specific parts, you probably have a $10K glider. A motor, inverter and battery can easily be had for less than $20k, in volume. A LEAF replacement battery only costs $5K right now.

A 200 mile (55KwH) battery will probably cost only slightly more in a couple years than an 80 mile (24KwH) battery costs today. Because of the higher energy density, the amount materials will be close to the same and the production volumes will be way up.

As for the Tesla Model III, I predict it will cost closer to $40K, which is still going to be a huge winner.

SIvad

If they do go with the Sonic hopefully they will go with the hatch version.

Spec9

I really don’t know about this. The current Sonic is an econobox that doesn’t look much better than the Spark. Telsa can put 200 mile battery in the Model S because it is an elegant car in a luxury segment and thus charge $70K for it. Now even if they manage to reduce the cost a bit . . .who’s gonna pay $50K for a Sonic? Or $40K?

It had better be a damn good looking Sonic or the battery had better be really cheap.

Grendal

And Chevy’s track record does not indicate that they will lowball the price. So probably $50K would be the going price for this. I would love for GM not to drop the ball but they managed to do it with the Volt and that is already a great car and they can’t seem to sell it.

Nate

Its funny how many people commenting on this site look forward for a 150 mile Leaf, but don’t like the idea of a 200 mile Sonic. The complaint is that the Sonic is too small, but the Sonic is in the same EPA size class as the Leaf.

Granted, we need to wait and see how much net space is lost when it goes from ICE to EV. We also need to keep in mind that by 2016 the Sonic could be larger than the current Sonic. There could be a chance that the 2016 Sonic EV has less space than the current Sonic ICE, and there could also be a chance it has more.

Actually the Chevy Sonic is classed as a compact (as is the Volt), and is quite a bit smaller

Sonic:
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/33920.shtml

LEAF:
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/34699.shtml

The Nissan LEAF is a mid-size

Nate

No, not in the hatch version, which gets you more height to that cargo volume which helps the Leaf’s numbers as well:

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/34081.shtml

Nate

..and if they ONLY made the Sonic EV in the sedan version instead of the hatch, I would too would be disappointed.

The point is at this time it is too early to either get too excited or complain too much. The 2016 Sonic specs are not available.

Yes, the “Sonic 5” is technically a mid-size, but as I current own a LEAF and a close family member has a Sonic, I can tell you there is a world of difference between the two.

They aren’t the same class of car at all…there is some huge spreads on the classes. The same way I wouldn’t say that the “Sonic 5” is a class above the Chevy Volt.

I think if GM announced a 150 mile Cruze (also a compact) there would be a completely different tone to the conversation.

Nate
If you’ve spent some time using one I definitely believe your word. I haven’t driven or rode in the Sonic hatch or sedan. I’ve sat in the hatch variant (front and back) and looked around it when I went in to test drive the Spark EV. It did seem like a step up in size from it, so I was wishing they put that excellent Spark EV drivetrain in the Sonic hatch instead. One of your colleagues previously said “We don’t believe in inventing our own category”. However, I think I am more with you on this one if you think the EPA categories don’t always tell the whole story about the useful size of a car. You can have cars on the cusp of one of their categories. I’m average height (6ft) and no one in my household is over that (yet), so cars made with enough headroom for someone a half foot taller don’t really help me out, though they do push up the cubic ft measurement noticeably. Also, within the EPA categories there is a wide variety of types of cars (like how the Sub-compact category has both a Aston Martin Rapide and a Chevy Spark). If… Read more »

Hey Nate,

Yes I’m with you right across the board, (= Although, I will be the first to admit I know of no good way to make the classes more clear…that is without added so many new ones that it renders the whole list useless, lol.

MTN Ranger

I’d buy it! It’s much better looking than the Spark EV and a bit bigger too. Plus it’s made in Michigan as opposed to the Spark from Korea.

Mikael

How popular is the Sonic in the US? Is it a car that still could sell in numbers while being much more expensive?

GM sells about 10k/month in the US & Canada.

lewl

If it’s the sonic platform, might as well go with Trax and hit a home run.

Small enough to get good efficiency, SUV capability, not as hideous as the spark (lol :p)

David Murray

I’m just not seeing the Sonic as a good candidate. First of all, I’m skeptical that a 200-mile battery would even fit. But more importantly, I suspect a 200-mile EV would be a high-end product with a price tag to match. How many people would want to spend $40,000 or more on a Sonic?

ffbj

I think Spec9 is on the right track. Also I am highly speculative of just about anything GM says. When it comes to them I am from Missouri.

DonC

What would make the most sense would be a new clean sheet designed car on the G2XX platform just like the next gen Volt will be a clean sheet design on the D2XX platform. The Sonic will use that platform but the BEV would not really be “as Sonic” anymore than a Equinox will be a Cruze.

GM could make a CUV on the D2XX platform but hard to see that happening given that the difference between a hatch and a CUV is minimal.

As for battery size, they’ll get three miles per kWh. Maybe a little less or a little more but essentially that’s it. No point in referencing the range of the Volt given how completely different the battery will be used. I also wouldn’t count on 200 miles using the US Cycles. Keep in mind that the Leaf gets 100 miles on LA4. You can get just about any range you want if you select your cycle to be sufficiently mild.

GM_EV_Skeptic

I love the idea of GM actually selling a BEV. Let’s face it, if this isn’t Vaporware, it will only be available to residents of Antarctica with a last name starting with “~”. The CEO will cry like a baby at every opportunity that they’re losing money on every car (because they don’t generate maintenance and parts revenue like ICE engines). 🙂

CherylG's_DirtyLittleSecret

Is that 200 mile theoretical that means 170 real miles?
Now i’m pretty sure they won’t (shouldn’t?) use 100% DOD of the pack, so is 200 miles 100% DOD? or 80% DOD?

If 80%, then we’ll see a real 150 mile EV…….or less.

JimReed

I have 24k miles on my 2012 Leaf SL and five months left on my lease. I really want to stay with a BEV but really need a 200 mile daily range. Reality is range is reduced by heat, defrost, AC as well as temperature. If I want the battery to get Max life staying above 20% and below 80% state of charge means a bigger battery. With the battery and most components made in USA as well as hatchback I find the Sonic EV very appealing. To each their own.

pjwood

Front windshield heating element, please.

OK the big question for me is “What about DC fast Charging?” The 200 miles part sounds good but I would need DCFC when it comes time to replace the LEAF. CCS fast chargers don’t exist in the DC Metro area.

Mike

We need a WAGON version, for hunters and campers.

EV

Ya… no thanks.

I’ll take a ~40 mile Volt over a 200 mile Sonic

evnow

Sonic platform, I think, is an unlikely candidate for the 200 mile BEV. It should be atleast a compact like the Volt to generate sales. It’ll cost upwards of $35k and compete with next gen Leaf, i3, model III etc.

Mark C

I could drive a Sonic EV, if it isn’t made of unobtainium. Time will tell.

ffbj

I think it will made with an alloy of unobtainium as you suggest, combined with pure balonium.

an_outsider

Not again with the same old 3.3kW onboard AC charger!
I hope not 😉

Bill Howland

It always fascinates me to see how auto manufacturers pick the charging rate for their vehicles..

I fully understood the choice for 3.3 kw, since that is the world wide least common denominator for single phase charging (many countries limit it to 16 amps).

GM at one time ONLY used 3300 watt chargers, but then Public Charging has seemed (for whatever reason in the States) to be a defacto 30 amps (usually around 6kw since most public chargers are less than 208 volts in the States). Yes there’s the occassional SunCountryHighway rebranded CC things out there for primarily the Canadian Market, but by far most public chargers are 30 amps or less.

Nissan handled this connundrum excellently, by offering 3.3 on the base and 6.6 kw as an optional extra or a trim level improvement.

It will be interesting to see if , in addition to the upcoming 40 mile VOLT with the extra cost 50 mile battery, if they also offer ‘dual chargers’ (2 x 3.3 kw) a la Tesla as an option.

leafer

the longer the AER on a EREV the more important higher charge rate on L2 (6-7.2kw min ) or even DCFC becomes.

Nix

My bet would be 200 miles on the California CARB cycle (AKA the “old” EPA test cycle). That would be around 140-160 miles in the new EPA test cycle.

None of the car companies besides Tesla have shown any desire to build to any standard other than CARB’s ZEV credit requirements, and there is no bonus credit for 200 miles in the new EPA test cycle. Heck, even Tesla built their Model S to take advantage of the most ZEV credits they could get.