Chevrolet Presents DC Fast Charging For 2014 Spark EV (w/video)

JAN 16 2014 BY MARK KANE 54

The 2014 Chevy Spark EV, described by Consumer Reports as the best Spark ever made. Incoming GM CEO Mary Barra says she loves it. Will she also let Americans buy it?

The 2014 Chevy Spark EV

Chevrolet just released an interesting video on the fast charging capability for 2014 Chevy Spark EV.

DC fast charging to 80% of battery capacity in 20 minutes (equivalent to up to 65 miles) will be available as a factory option for $750.

And the 2014 Spark EV will be the first electric car on the US market compatible with the SAE J1772 Combo plug.

Deliveries should start this month in California and Oregon, where the Spark EV is now exclusively available.  UpdateThe first fast charging Spark EV was reportedly delivered in December.

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54 Comments on "Chevrolet Presents DC Fast Charging For 2014 Spark EV (w/video)"

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I’ve watched smaller people with smaller hands really struggle with the Chademo connector, this looks way more manageable. Chademo is like a firehose, this is a garden hose.

The CHAdeMO connector (at least the gen one version) was designed for industrial use and fairly un-intuitively (most people squeeze the black handle before inserting, but you’re supposed to insert first and then push while squeezing).

The SAE connector as designed for consumer use and is pretty much self explanatory.

They have a improved “gen 2” CHAdeMO connector in the works that should be more manageable and designed more similar to the SAE one.


Have you seen any US locations deploy the 1.0 CHAdeMO connector? It seems much better than the 0.9 version.

The chademo connector thing got solved. The latest ones are light, and have automatic mechanical locks.

“Will be available”? They had been promising ‘late 2013’.

I guess they missed that deadline. Ship them damn it. And start building charging stations.

I think some of the SAE equipped Spark EV has been already sold in Southern CA….

You are correct. Doing an inventory search, I see that DC-fast charger equipped Spark EVs are now available. Cool.

Now they need to install chargers. And the various people that make maps of chargers need to specify exactly what type of chargers are available (You can’t just say “DC fast charger” . . . you need to specify whether it is a Chademo, SAE-CCS, or Tesla supercharger.

I noticed that Plug Share has Tesla and CHAdeMO (Quickcharge) in the “High Power Stations” section. They need to add an option for SAE-CCS now.

I believe they have SAE-CCS now, it’s listed as “SAE Combo” on their website.

Chevrolet claims 80% charge in 20 minutes, not 30 minutes reported here. The GM engineer in the video also says 20 minutes.



Hmm, do they ever specify from what SoC? 20% maybe?
And/or at what current/power?

The only public CCS QC I’m aware of (evGo in San Diego) delivers 120A / 50kW max, so the Spark should take roughly the same time to QC as a Leaf…

Some CCS-equipped Sparks have already been sold in CA. and Oregon, and you can find them listed in dealer inventories.

The more I look at the Spark EV, the more it makes me think of a baby Nissan Leaf…. Gah.

Ok great. Now start selling the car nationwide along with the Volt.

Sell this car nationwide? lol No one is even buying it, no one wants it. It’s not appealing in any way. The car looks extremely silly on the road, not a good looking car in any way. I test drove it and did not feel comfortable inside it because of its outside.

Strongly disagree! I drove this car for a few days, it’s extremely fun to drive (has about as much torque as a model S) and frankly I think it looks great as far as pocket rockets go. It helps that they spec the EVs with higher end options like nice rims. Most reviews in the press are highly positive, too. Yes, we get it, the Model S is a gorgeous EV with impressive specs, but not everybody can afford one or wants a giant car.

I’m a Volt owner and when I had an opportunity to test drive the Spark EV last year, I jumped on it, even if not available for sale right now here in Canada (a fleet only thing). Sure, it is a small car and you can discuss forever if you like or dislike its appearance but I must say, it was a funny blast to zip with it around town. Can be your perfect suburban commuter option or a second family car, even your only one and only for long distance travel if you have some DC charging options but keep in mind, it is a 4 seats small car.

As the owner of a 2006 xB I take offense to this sentiment. In the words of Han Solo, she may not look like much but she’s got it where it counts, kid.

They aren’t going to sell it nationwide. The Chevy Spark EV is built to comply with California Air Resources Board -Zero Emission Vehicle (CARB-ZEV). If you buy one and ship it out-of-state, to be registered first in a non CARB-ZEV state, GM won’t get the 3 credits for that cars. “Compliance-only” cars like Toyota Rav4 EV, Honda Fit EV, GM Spark EV, Fiat/Chrysler 500e, future Volkswagon eGolf, and Mercedes B-Class Ed are all built because the manufacturer is required to build a minimum percentage of pure EV’s. The manufacturers make just the minimum so that they can continue to sell high profit margin oil cars in California and other CARB-ZEV states like Oregon. Anything beyond that is generally in the form of press releases and not cars. These cars are typically sold at a significant monetary loss to their respective manufacturer, which is primarily why they aren’t sold outside of CARB states. These cars are typically optimized for “100 miles”, but practically have closer to 70-80 miles of range and can be 40-50 miles with cold weather. Making the car go double the 100 mile range only produces 25% more CARB-ZEV credit, hence no compliance-only cars are rated for a… Read more »

The WV e-Golf is definitely not just a compliance car. It’s going on sale on the european market and there is no reason to do it if you just want to sell ICE’s in California.

Yes, VW does and will sell EV’s in Europe, including the eGolf. It must pain them to see the proliferation of non-German technology throughout their country, with both Tesla (USA) and CHAdeMO (Japan) installing stations there. Perhaps the French Renault Chameleon AC quick chargers will also show up.

The point is, all the German car makers are locked into the Frankenplug consortium, and with the exception of GM, no other car makers anywhere in the world are following them. There is lots of German government money to be thrown at charging infrastructure throughout Germany, and I absolutely guarantee that not one penny will be spent on foreign quick charge standards.

In addition, the adoption rate of foreign cars, in particular Japanese and USA cars within Germany is very, very low. Within Germany, it’s “advantage Germany” for German auto manufacturers.

I think you have a rather distorted view of the SAE-Combo (CCS) fast charging system (or as you call it “Frankenplug” evidently because it adds two connectors to the J1772 SAE standard). You claim that the CCS connector is used only by German brands and GM. Although you are incorrect, the same claim can be made that only Japanese brands use the CHAdeMO connector. The following brands have signed on to the CCS standard: Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen. (You left out Ford and Chrysler in your German brand claim.) The following embrace CHAdeMO: Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Toyota. Of these, only Nissan actually manufactures a quick charge car of any significance.

Well, even if it is only going to be a limited roll-out, it would be nice to at least expand to the other CARB states beyond CA and OR

Surely it will go nation wide but not until Europe has been served. It’s the old fashioned “back home first”-attitude that both the nationalistic US and Germany have in common.

I think that will happen only because the CARB rules will require it for now. Don’t worry, the auto manufacturers are working to stop that. Here’s their Oct 19, 2012 request to EPA for waiver from CARB:

“It is highly unlikely that the required infrastructure and the level of consumer demand for ZEVs will be sufficient by MY2018 in either California or in the individual Section 177 States to support the ZEV sales requirements mandated by CARB. EPA should therefore deny, at the present time, California’s waiver request for the ZEV program for these model years. During the interim, Global Automakers and the Alliance believe that California and EPA, with full auto industry participation, should implement a review for the ZEV program similar to the mid-term review process adopted under the federal GHG and CAFE regulations for MYs2017 through 2025.”

Now it makes sense why Toyota and others are pushing for the hydrogen fueled vehicles.

Yeah, it is a Compliance car right now. But it doesn’t have to remain that way. They could sell it where ever they want. But I think the problem is that it is probably a money-losing at at best break-even car. They would need to raise the price if they were going to sell it in non ZEV states. And they don’t want to do that because that would cause sales in the ZEV states to drop. And that is where they need the sales.

I can’t help it… this car just looks like it has a giant schnoz.

The headlights are practically as big as the big as the wheels are! The under-sized wheels don’t help the look either. I wish GM used the much nicer looking and slightly bigger Sonic for their EV.

Devil’s advocate here, I like the looks. I like the looks of the Leaf as well. They both look young, modern, and utilitarian. I swore off traditional sedans after I got my first hatch and realized how much more useful it was.

young and modern? They look like designs that shouldn’t have made it out of the design room, let alone into production. I could design a better looking car than that freehand. EV’s dont have to be these odd looking non appealing unproportional shaped vehicles it makes no sense why they keep making them look like this. Model S was done absolutely right and even more so. The Volt was almost done right (back end little priusy) but other than that great looking car (2nd best looking “EV” out)

Still waiting for someone else to make a nice sleek looking sedan thats an EV. Anyone can do it yet no one is choosing to, makes no sense. I really expected way more from BMW and Mercedes and thought they would bring a nice EV sedan but NOPE. Weird boxy grunt looking thing and a Euro van looking thing.

It’s sad honestly.

The low-end Model S costs 2.5 times as much as this car. This car looks the same as its non-EV relative. Yeah, it is a little econobox. But it is Around $17K after incentives!

I like it. …Don’t you listen to those mean men my little Shparkikens.

One of the most interesting things in that video (to me anyway) is that you can remotely STOP charging on the Spark, using the key fob or the Remote Link app. With the Volt, you can only remotely START charging.

1) Great news! Charging at ~200 mi/hour. Now sell it nationwide.
2) Seems annoying you have to sit there for 30 seconds to see if the light goes green before walking away
3) What happens if you simply unplug the car while it’s charging?

Regarding 3): I strongly suspect that a sensor in the connector triggers an emergency shutdown if there is an attempt at unlatching it while charging. Well, at least I hope there is something along those lines.
Otherwise, the best you can hope for is a big spark, arcing actually, for the fraction of a second it should take the charger to detect the fault and cut power. Still, it will ding the contacts a little.

There is a reason why the other DC quick charge connectors, CHAdeMO and Tesla’s, remain locked when energized.

Even J1772 AC remains locked to the car while energized. When you press the button to disconnect it, a signal is sent via the proximity pin to open the contactors on the car’s battery and the charging station (EVSE).

Short little article on the Spark EV’s composite battery case. One word: “plastics”

If Chevy is making a profit (highly likely) on a $750 upgrade to DC fast charging, how much would they need to charge to upgrade the Volt to a measly 6.6 kW charge rate? Plugging in for an hour at an L2 charger and only getting 10-11 miles is pathetic. At least at 6.6 kW you get nearly 22 miles of additional range which isn’t too bad. And if it was half the cost of a full on DC fast charge option, or $375, it would be a bargain for those of us Volt owners that frequently want to recharge mid-day to keep the genset off in the afternoon.

Part of the difference here, though, is that the DC quick charge doesn’t really need added electronics circuitry, whereas the 6.6kW charger needs beefier and more expensive components to convert the AC to DC current for the battery.

Clarkson, that sounds completely counter-intuitive, but I have to admit I am no EE.
I have read that it would take $200-$500 for an OEM to offer a 6.6 kW charge rate instead of a 3.3 kW rate, but that was just some people on the net that claimed to know what they were talking about. Kind of like what I just did… Except I admit I am not sure what it would cost. LOL!

Sorry for the late resposne Ziv… The reason is that, with DC charging, it’s more or less a physical connection to the high voltage battery, and nothing else. The expensive charging equipment is in the fast charging station that you’re plugged into, instead of the car.

But with the 6.6kW versus 3.3kW, the conversion from AC to DC is taking place in the car, so the electronics there to handle it become more expensive.

Admittedly, I’m not sure of the exact numbers either, so no worries on that one. 😉

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Indeed, the Accord PHEV has 6.6kW and its battery is pathetically tiny.. Get on the f–kin ball GM!!

The addition of QC makes the Spark EV substantially more attractive.

No word on whether GM would require that Chevrolet dealerships deploy CCS fast chargers?

I am just happy that US makers are finally going the right direction with offering quickcharge port options. We are a family of 4, using 2 Nissan LEAFS, and we quick-charge about 30-50 times a year for each car. Besides our daily commute to work, this includes a myriad of shopping or appointments on the way back, soccer games all over greater Portland/OR area for the kids, many 100+mile trips to water parks and even inner tubing on Mount Hood in the winter. I see all this BS data as justification of why we have not seen offerings yet by US or European carmakers for quick charge ports, and from my own experience with friends and coworkers ( I am an Engineer gone Program Manager in a high tech company), folks without a quick charge plug make do and just use their EV for commuting, but EVERYBODY I know with a EV with a quickcharge will NOT go back to a EV without one. So our leases are running out this year, and the Spark is too small for the whole family. Tesla us to pricey, especially needing two cars, and Ford Focus and Co still don’t offer quick charge… Read more »

What about the BMW i3? And don’t say it’s because of its looks….

I personally do not mind the looks of the i3.
My reasons are:
1) Not available in my zip code yet, with expectation to be here in fall of 2014, which will be too late for us. Of course this trumps all other considerations
2) leasing deals I could research so far on the i3 are nearly double as compared to the LEAF leases available here in the Portland/OR area, with needing 2 cars it’s just too much for our pocket book.
2) back seats are a bit less roomy, and we are a tall family, with both my kids being very tall for their ages (7 and 11). We are even going to be cramped in the LEAF in another few years, but for now a few hours for all 4 of us in the car are ok.
3) I’d like to support American-made if feasible, and the LEAF at least is manufactured in Tennessee now for the NA market.

All that said, I do like the cool factor of the BMW and hope they keep developing, and I am glad to see that they have a quick charge option of $700.

One more item that invalidates the i3 as a choice: CCS quick charge port instead of Chademo. All infrastructure in terms of quick chargers up here is Chademo, and to get another standard implemented would take another two years at least. We finally have all the chargers around I need for 99% of my driving, I would not want to give that part up.

I test drove this car. It’s small yes. It’s also cramped. Especially the back seat. If your kids will never grow past 10 years old the rear seats will be fine.
It’s 4 seats only and doesn’t get much more range that a LEAF.

Sure it’s got pep but it’s not practical.

It looks like the product of a LEAF when it takes a crap.

“It’s 4 seats only and doesn’t get much more range that a LEAF.”


“It’s 4 seats only and doesn’t get to much more range than a LEAF.”

only 9 miles more.

100mile EV range must be a solid wall for GM and Nissan…

The 2014 LEAF is now EPA rated at 84 miles.