Car and Driver EV Comparison Test: Chevy Spark EV #1 Out of 6 Tested EVs

MAR 26 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 69

Chevy Spark EV

Chevy Spark EV

The opening of Car and Driver’s 8-page, 6 electric vehicle comparison starts with all the typical hyperbole we’ve come to expect from the major magazines when it comes to coverage of EVs not called Tesla, so you might to skip straight to Page 2 where the vehicles are discussed.

We won’t spoil all the details.ย  Instead, we’ll point out that the Chevy Spark EV won the 6-way comparo, convincing Car and Driver to state this of Chevy’s pint-sized electric:

“Hereโ€™s a car that puts it all together. Itโ€™s a total effort, a studied application of brainpower and enthusiasm that embraces the electric mandate with gusto and without a whiff of the-government-made-us reluctance. And this from none other than GM, the company that sued California over the EV mandate; that forever bears the mark of Cain for killing off its own pioneering electric, the EV1.”

Car and Driver's Final Results Scorecard - Full Article Here

Car and Driver’s Final Results Scorecard – Full Article Here

Source: Car and Driver

Categories: Chevrolet

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69 Comments on "Car and Driver EV Comparison Test: Chevy Spark EV #1 Out of 6 Tested EVs"

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the headlight is bigger than the tires

๐Ÿ˜€ It’s a baby Leaf…

how is it that the Focus and the LEAF scored the same on “cargo space” ? did they even open the trunks?

Right!

The article has pictures of all the trunks, but apparently they had bad data the Leaf and they may not have known about the additional storage under what looks like the “floor” of the trunk in their picture… they reported that the Leaf has 15 cu ft of cargo space behind the rear seats, same as the FFE. Leaf actually has 24 cu ft. That being said, the FFE still has the second largest trunk of the bunch.

It’s a subjective evaluation. Clearly whoever did the evaluation loves Ford styling – the Focus scored extremely well across the board on every styling/appearance/usability category, and that spilled over into the ratings on the cargo space and rear seat space, which are frankly weak points compared to the LEAF – something Focus Electric advocates readily concede. One thing about Fords is that the interior setup is consistent across their car lineup and is definitely unique. Some people love it, some hate it, some in between. These reviewers were in the “love it” category, so keep that in mind when considering their view. As much as they loved the Focus they really didn’t like the Nissan, knocking it down a point below what I think most people would rate it on many subjective categories. Not entirely surprising – I rent lots of cars for business and frankly the Nissan interiors aren’t the best. I’m happy enough with the LEAF for it’s EV qualities, but on a straight-up comparison with similar car interiors, ignoring the fuel source, a Nissan won’t score that highly with most people. In addition, there still is something of a pro-American nameplate bias to Car & Driver, even… Read more »

The Spark EV got a top score in rear seat space –

The LEAF would have scored last had C/D considered its high premature range decay potential due to its lack of battery thermal management.

I think it will take a while for the automotive press to fully understand EVs … one thing I find amusing is the frequent references to the Spark’s 400 ft lb of torque.

The way EVs are set up, it make sense to compare torque at the wheel.

If you pick some other point in the drive train, it makes no sense, you are comparing oranges to apples, because the cars vary so much

B/c that is where ICE’s torque is rated at the input of the transmission or output of the engine. So, in this case, the output of the Electric motor is similar in nature.

And you can figure it out yourself since C/D did list the drive ratio and you can probably deduct the final torque at the wheel. Regardless, the performance also reflects that Spark EV is the fastest one among the group.

Great answer: “we have always done it this way”, and we still do it even though it makes no sense in this context.

LOL … you are funny!!!!

You see, ICE transmissions are very similar between makes and models, so you could use engine torque as a proxy for drive wheel torque, and the latter is what really matters to people who drive cars.

๐Ÿ™‚

“Great answer: โ€œwe have always done it this wayโ€, and we still do it even though it makes no sense in this context.” B/c it makes sense. Engine or Electric motor is the source of the power so comparing it makes sense. That is a benchmark for the power source. “You see, ICE transmissions are very similar between makes and models, so you could use engine torque as a proxy for drive wheel torque,” Completely BS. Here is reason why. There are 4-speed, 5 speed, 6 speed, 7 speed, 8 speed and manual transmission and final gear ratio. They all affect the power to the wheel. So, it doesn’t make sense at all. “and the latter is what really matters to people who drive cars.” No, The same applies to whether it is electric motor or ICE. Sure, BEVs has “fixed” gearing. So, in a way, it makes sense even more by specing it at the output of the motor since the torque at the wheel is easily transferred where in ICE, it is NOT. In a way, the torque at the motor makes MORE SENSE for EVs than ICE cars. Now, single speed is what is used today. But… Read more »

Ugh, to let those ICE-centered journalists rank EVs makes as much sense as to let a bunch of 18th Century concert-goers rank rock bands.

Where is the rubric for fast charging? Or charging in general? Is it less relevant than interior styling or rebates/extras? For Goodness’ sake, there’s not even a rubric for range.

If consumer needs are a consideration – then where is the rubric about nationwide availability and support?

And why is everyone except the Smart ED ranked so low on “fuel economy”, when that lowly body called the EPA ranks most of them having MPGe very close to each other?

Then, amazingly, the Focus EV gets the same score on cargo space as the Leaf. I wonder if they opened the hatch at all.

In short: FAIL.

Range is discussed and you should read the review on that…

MMF … you crack me up!

This is the point I made on this very thread, that you initially disputed, and now you understand it!!

Glad to see you came over to the right side of the argument! Welcome.

Oops … I must have clicked on the wrong “Reply” … this response was intended to respond to ModernMarvelFan’s comment about Spark “final drive ratio”

disputed what?

Learn to post…

They probably don’t like EV’s, and know that the most choice people who want one will make is the LEAF due availability and being a more practically sized car than most of these. So, they did what they could to rank it lower in this pack to make perspective buyers second guess their decision to get one.

At least there are more EV’s to compare now…

MrEnergyCzar

They made some errors but it is not that bad of a comparison. And the Spark is a really nice little EV . . . it really does have a peppy little drivetrain.

400lb ft is not “peppy”

Well, the final drive ratio is high so not all the same.

But it is decently fast.

Compliance cars are never “nice little EVs”. They are a corporate ruse, finding a loophole in the rules in order to avoid seriously selling and supporting BEVs. Compliance cars are almost a hoax.

If sites like this really care about consumer rights and needs, then the compliance issue should be front and center in their ranking of BEVs. Otherwise, they are partners to the hoax.

The hoax is from the governments enforcing the compliance, not the manufacturers trying to comply.

“Mark of Cain” is right… And now with the Tesla Blocking in Ohio. ๐Ÿ˜›

Do they not understand that consumers vote with their dollars? Oh, that’s right… They went bankrupt because they didn’t listen to their customers. Maybe they won’t get bailed out next time.

I agree with GM’s point in OHIO.

GM should be allowed to sell plugin cars independently of dealers…

Good compromise. But should only apply to pure electrics or to PHEVs too?

And so they can. No dealer associations went crying to legislatures and governors when GM concocted Saturn did they? Or are you too young to remember Saturn?

Established automakers can bring in new divisions to sell EVs and plug-ins at separate locations using a different
business model. Saturn’s model would’ve
had a fighting chance had they gave the
division a halfway decent car…

I don’t think established automakers with dealer networks can create new divisions to sell vehicles through company-owned stores.

Saturn might have had no haggle pricing, but they did not sell their vehicles through company-owned stores like Telsa. Like every other GM division, Saturn sold their vehicles through independently-owned dealerships.

http://savannahnow.com/exchange/2010-10-29/savannah-saturn-car-dealership-adjusts-business

Right. What made Saturn work was that they were able to set certain conditions for the dealership when first signing them up – and that included selling cars for MSRP and using non-commissioned sales people. It helped that they gave GM’s best non-Saturn dealers the first crack at buying Saturn dealership rights.

The fact that it was done at startup is critical. Once dealership rights are established manufacturers are under tight constraints regarding how much they can do to control dealers – including limitations on cancelling dealerships (remember the struggles Chrysler and GM had during bankruptcy in reducing their number of dealerships – were it not for the bankruptcy rules they would not have been successful).

This is why Nissan is limited regarding setting rules to dealerships on access to charging stations, but wouldn’t be if they could put those requirements in as a condition of launching a new nameplate.

So then, why should Tesla get a break? As you say, they simply can set up their own rules and restrictions franchisees must honor – just as everybody else has to do. Instead, they gripe like spoiled children expecting special treatment.

Saturn dealership was still “independently owned”….

James, Saturn WAS NOT a factory direct sales arrangement. Saturn still employed a franchising dealer business model. The only thing it really differed in from a pricing strategy was a fixed MRP (as opposed to an MSRP) aka as the “No Dicker Sticker”

Spark EV is a cool little BEV.

One thing that we should “spank” GM for is that fact that every time they decide to do something about “electricification” they seem to do a good job at it. Volt, EV1 and Spark EV are all good product coming out of GM. But they just don’t seem to believe in the good products that they come up with…

GM, you are already building the car in a much lower costed region (South Korea). Why don’t sell more so you can lower your cost and spread that technology across the country. People who drove the Spark EV all love it…

If GM only put in as much effort in the sales of the car as they did designing the car, it would have been a much better success…

For one, it’s another 70-80 mile electric. Even if they did mass market it, they would run into sluggish sales. There’s too much congestion in the 70 mile city EV class as it is. Nissan has the corner on a very small niche market.

City EVs are second, third or fourth cars for most. Buyers aren’t busting down doors to buy a car that brings with it so many limitations and anxieties.

Spark EV has the highest efficiency among all BEVs AND it has the best performance of any BEV under $40K….

“…without a whiff of the-government-made-us reluctance”

hahahahaha then why is it only being sold in California and Oregon? Because they DON’T believe in it and are only selling it for CARB compliance.

They probably lose too much money on it.

But based on the platform, GM can’t lose more than few thousands on the car. If that is the case, GM can easily lower the platform cost by increase the volume which the ICE Spark is already doing beyond GM’s expectation…

The only company that activately push EVs are those that can make profits on each and every one they sell…

That is why Nissan is refusing to add liquid thermal control to LEAF battery pack. I guess if Nissan does, it would make it expensive enough to lose money on them.

Because they lose money on it and they are selling it just for CARB credits.

Modern Marvel Fan / Spec9 – That’s exactly the point! That’s far more than a “whiff of the-government-made-us reluctance”. The car downright reeks of it.

Brian, I don’t necessarily agree. Maybe that’s the perception from our standpoint.

However, GM originally stated nationwide availability eventually, and now they don’t seem to be getting there. At the same time, A123 went bankrupt and Wanxiang bought their assets and operation.

So it wouldn’t surprise me if they are partially limited by battery production, or uncertain of the resulting quality due to the buyout, and want to proceed with caution.

My only point being, we don’t always know the whole story.

True, we don’t know the whole story. And part of me wants to believe that GM had high hopes for something like Envia to pan out. Then they already had the Spark EV to plop the wonder batteries into and send it nationwide.

But as it stands today, there are too many signs of compliance car. CA/OR only? A wimpy 3.3kW charger? Going with SAE CCS without a hint of helping deploy the standard? Meanwhile, they ignore CHAdeMO, which CA/OR are overflowing* with (*relative to anywhere else in the country).

DCFC in CA are rarely used by LEAF owners once they pass the “free period”…

So, that is NOT an issue.

3.3KW is fine for home and work charging. If you need L2 to save you on a road trip, 6.6KW is already too slow.

I respectfully disagree with you here. In fact, you seem to be talking out of both sides of your mouth. First of all, for mass appeal, DCFC is necessary, even if largely psychological (see the TEPCO study on unused EVSEs). Then you admit that 6.6kW charging isn’t fast enough when you’re on the go – which is where DCFC comes in of course.

For overnight charging, I agree completely – 3.3kW is perfectly fine (in fact most people could do with 1.4kW, or L1). But others here have said that 6.6kW charging is a must for those busy days when you come home from work for an hour or so, and then head out for the evening’s errands. If GM were serious about this EV, then they would at least give us the option of 6.6kW charging.

“I respectfully disagree with you here. In fact, you seem to be talking out of both sides of your mouth. ” Well, you didn’t get what I was trying to say. DCFC doesn’t makes sense for small battery cars. Especially since it cost so much to install in the first place and ONLY free DCFC has been heavily used so far. So, whether it is available on a small battery car such as Spark EV, it doesn’t matter as much since people tend to have pre-selection bias during purchase of the car to designate the car for shorter trips. For occasionally longer trip, the availabilty of the DCFC is NOT enough to make a difference until its coverage is magnitude better than today which will cost a lot of money to get there. That is why I think the DCFC is less important on the Spark EV. FFE and rest of the compliance BEVs don’t even come with them. “For overnight charging, I agree completely โ€“ 3.3kW is perfectly fine (in fact most people could do with 1.4kW, or L1). But others here have said that 6.6kW charging is a must for those busy days when you come home from… Read more »

Did you notice they said the LEAF is a compliance car in their article? This entire article is FUD.

The magazine is written for people who like to go fast. Of course the fastest EV would be first place in their book!

I kid you not.
I may get a Spark when my Volt lease comes up LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

Kick some butt on them pussies drivin’ a Leaf.

I really wished GM would have used the Sonic instead of the Spark as an EV: U.S. built and much better looking.

They should offer both!!

Don’t stop there… How about an electric Malibu and Impala or at least a Voltec in Malibu and Impala and Equinox?

Because those existing platforms require stuffing a battery pack into the trunk, ala: Ford. Designing a whole new platform ain’t gonna happen unless Tesla finds success with Model E. At that point, it’ll be at least 2020 and GM could very well be bankrupt/extinct by then.

My understanding is the next Delta platform is supposed to accommodate Voltec-like options, is it not?

That is, if GM doesn’t kill off Voltec before then…

OMG James you are so wrong! Pessimist much??? lol
WOT

Odd how the Honda made the test even though it is going to no longer be produced and the MiEV isn’t listed?

Interesting too how the entire batch of cars are essentially all the same.

Too much money for too little anything. Double the money of a base 4 banger car(entirely undesirable too).

If the OEM’s would double the electric performance; these cars would sell. They are scared for their bottom lines though! Performance electric and especially cheaper electrics threaten all their gas powered offerings(as inferior!).

To quote the article, “We asked Mitsubishi for an example of its electric car, the i-MiEV, but the company hadnโ€™t yet received any updated-for-2014 models.”

Irrevelevent compliance car. The have a production ceiling set by CARB credits. Until GM unshackles production, the car shouldn’t be considered for squat.

The first page of the article makes it clear that they are testing compliance cars. Their assertion that the Nissan Leaf wouldn’t exist without government mandates can be questioned.

I’m at a loss on this article. They pretty much start the whole thing off by dissing EVs in general as much as they can. Then they go onto review cars they don’t know anything about. They leave out all of the important things people want to know like range, charge time, etc. For example, the Leaf is the only vehicle they tested that has the ability to DC fast charge. I guess the Spark technically can but there are no stations to use. Still, they didn’t bother to mention that?!

They know ICE cars, not EVs. This article points that out. There are plenty of places they could have gone to get EV information. They are compelled to write about EVs because of the impact they are making in the automotive field, but they are committed to ICE vehicles. Consider this a compliance article.

Well said. The charge time is SO important when you live with one day to day. When I got to spend a weekend with a Spark EV I was absolutely miserable with the 3.3 kW charger. Now that I’ve gotten used to 6.6 I can’t figure out how to go back without it interrupting my schedule. I could not imagine buying a Spark now for that reason alone, but it didn’t lose a single point for it. I imagine perhaps these reviewers hopped into prepped cars and just walked away when they were depleted leaving a technician to deal with “refilling”. I agree with you that the DC charge option along with the “type of connector” battle is another mistakenly completely ignored wrinkle.

I don’t understand what the point of C&D’s article is. Yes, I know that they rated the cars. Some of the criteria were objective and measurable, but many were purely subjective. What impressed their staff might be things that don’t matter to many drivers out there. They also ignored criteria completley or got others wrong. I was scratching my head several times as,eg, the mileage they were reporting didn’t jive with what I have been seeing EV drivers consistently report. I drive the Mitsubishi “I” and that gets me about 60 miles in combined driving. How is it that the other cars, with bigger batteries, came in at the same range? Honestly, their anti EV bias colored the direction of the test, hence it really came across as a meaningless exercise in nonsense journalism.

Exactly. Their range estimates were WAY off.

I hate to be the person that labels people as “left wing” or “right wing”, but this article’s bias reads strongly as “tea party”.

What should we expect from a magazine that is geared (no pun intended) toward enthusiasts of ICE vehicles?

Not even any mention of charging ! Did they realize these are EVs ?

Oh, FFE & Leaf have the same cargo space.

I’m looking forward to the issue where they discuss how FFE & Leaf are selling “about the same”.

So many complaints about compliance cars. Perhaps when EVs gather more than 1/10 of 1% of the market, the big manufacturers will consider it to be more than a nuisance.

Good news! EVs now gather more than 1/10 of 1% of the market! In fact, they have since 2012. Now how about taking them seriously?

Considering C&D is focused on performance, they should have given the LEAF an extra point for the highest regulated top speed of 94mph:)..

While I could care less about the difference between the ones that limit at 90 vs. 93 vs. 94, some of these cars have top speeds that don’t keep up with normal highway speed in places like MT. The FFE limits at 85 and the Smart at 78 — these 2 don’t seem like vehicles made for all 50 states.

I also don’t really care all that much about the acceleration times differences that the Spark dominated OTHER THAN the ones that relate to passing speed (30-50) and (50-70). The numbers confirmed what I felt when test driving last summer – Spark is noticeably faster.

All things considered the LEAF is a more practical car. I’m not sure how there as tested price was scored so low considering the real world prices and availability out there. Since it is the most likely EV people will choose, they probably wanted to rank it lower just to hate on EV’s.

Humm โ€ฆ What’s up with “Price as Tested” and “1/4 mile performance” being scaled at 20 points vs. 5-10 points for other comparisons?

With “Price as Tested” getting a high weighting, why did reviewer pick the high-end LEAF SL vs. other more compartmental optioned model? Considering the reviewers didn’t prefer the style aspects of the upgraded leather seats. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Not sure how “Fuel Economy” can be an ‘electric’ vehicle review category when non of the reviewed models use fuel for propulsion. Energy use (kW per mile) at 30 & 60 MPH would be more pragmatic comparisons.

Missing are types of charging options and charging speed. An EV with highspeed DC charging, or Fast AC charging is preferable to basic (3.3 kW) charging options. Along these lines, range per charge is another useful, but omitted comparison.

Lastly, while braking was rated (more for feel), it would be informative to cover regenitive effectiveness and effiency. eg: Did any of the review models have adjustable regen panel controls on steering column?

While the Car & Driver review is lengthy (8 pages), it lacks focus on the core categories that an EV driver would prioritize. This C&D review only rates a 3 on a 10 point scale.

“While the Car & Driver review is lengthy (8 pages), it lacks focus on the core categories that an EV driver would prioritize.”

That is the problem with so called “EV supporter” attitude.

If we require the entire population to change to the same type of early EV adopters, then EVs will NEVER TAKE off fast enough for it to succeed!

Tesla get it. It is NO compromise EV that people don’t need to worry about all those stuff that “EV early adopters” do. That is why it is in high demand.

Change the car to fit the buyers, NOT to change the buyers to fit the cars…

I read the article a while back and got a couple things from it.
1. Car & Driver is for gear heads who only think performance means lots of HP and loud exhaust. They have never given respect to technology that improves efficiency.
2. The good thing is that the growth in popularity of EV’s means even gear head jocks like these guys at C&D have to pay attention to what’s going on in the EV market.