Chevrolet Spark EV Sales More Than Doubled In 2015

FEB 4 2016 BY MARK KANE 48

Chevrolet Spark EV sales in U.S. – December 2015

Chevrolet Spark EV sales in U.S. – December 2015

What Canadian Demand For The Chevrolet Spark EV Will Be Is Anyone's Guess - But We Will Find Out

Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet Spark EV sales in the U.S. increased by roughly 130% in 2015.

In total, 2,629 Spark EVs were sold in 2015, compared to 1,145 in 2014.

Great lease offers, combined with high availability manifested in peak sales of 920 in April when every fourth Spark sold in the U.S. was electric.

The situation has calmed since then, but Spark EV’s share among all Sparks began to climb again to exceed 10% in November and 11% in December.

For January of 2016, 139 Spark EVs were sold, which represented 12% of the total Sparks sold (1,121).  (Full January 2016 plug-in sales report can be found here)

The fate of Spark EV is still officially unclear as GM is gearing up to introduce the Bolt EV.

Very strong odds are that 2016 will be the last year for GM’s first pure EV offering since the EV1 in America, as the plug-in model did not get the refresh/upgrade for 2016 as the petrol model did.  Think of it as the ELR of the Chevrolet lineup , in other words GM getting some extra value out of the end of an isolated production run.

Chevrolet Spark EV sales in U.S. – December 2015

Chevrolet Spark EV sales in U.S. – December 2015

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48 Comments on "Chevrolet Spark EV Sales More Than Doubled In 2015"

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Much of the “lack” of sales post Apr. 2015 was probably due to supply. They were sold out. I probably convinced half a dozen gas car drivers to check it out when they asked me questions while charging at DCFC, but when they’re not available, oh well.

I’m preparing a eulogy for SparkEV. It may not have the fanfare of EV1, but it deserves a good send off, the first EV from GM for consumers to buy.

If its a eulogy and you want brass you should not use a fanfare, but a funeral march.

This is was purportedly played at the Alamo for the doomed defenders by the besieging Mexican forces.

The SparkEV has been a nice little commuter EV. It lacks the attractive styling of the Fiat 500e but the SparkEV has great performance, great efficiency, and a CCS DC-fast charge port.

Supply is KEY. We could not get the SPARK EV in Arizona or many places in the USA. If they could sales would have been 10x higher.

Even after the Bolt becomes available there is still going to be a market for a entry level lower cost EV, especially if it has fast charging. Maybe Chevrolet will keep making the Spark EV until it can offer a dedicated entry level EV.

Because of tax credit, I doubt SparkEV will continue. See response below.

I think Texans would’ve liked SparkEV. It’s got that “screw you. I’m gonna do it better” attitude. In the sea of 13 second entry level EV like iMiEV and SmartED, SparkEV kicked butt of all, even much higher priced EV and gas cars. And in case of DCFC speed, it was approaching Tesla 90kW (ie, no taper to 80% and more efficient). Yup, somehow, I imagine SparkEV fitting right in.

I thought seriously about buying a Spark EV and having it trucked in but the dealerships were unsupportive and not having any certified service centers really turned me off. The Volt sales well here but last time I went into a Chevy dealer I was told the Volt could fast charge and I had to give a little class on DCFC. Hopefully the Texas dealerships will be better educated when the Bolt gets here.

I was one of those few who picked one up in 2013. The lease ends this fall and I’m torn. Pick up another Spark (or keep the current one) or wait for the Bolt. Right now I’m leaning Spark. It meets our size and range needs 95% of the time, and it’s fun to drive. The Bolt would do 98%. That’s probably not worth the extra money when I already have an Escape Hybrid for everything else. My ideal driveway would have a Spark EV with range bumped up to 100 miles and a Voltec CUV the size of the Escape with ~45 miles AER.

I think there’s a market and I hope they keep the Spark EV around, but I’ll admit it seems more likely that it will go away.

“Twice nothing is still nothing.” — Cyrano Jones, “Star Trek: The Trouble with Tribbles”

Despite the claims of a certain enthusiastic Spark EV owner here, it’s a compliance car. Auto makers lose money making compliance cars.

Contrariwise, the Bolt isn’t going to be a compliance car. GM may not make a lot of money per unit on the Bolt, but at least it won’t be losing money at the per-unit rate it does on the Spark.

I can’t see any realistic scenario where GM does not phase out the Spark once the Bolt is selling.

I doubt Chevy lost money on SparkEV based on lower MSRP in Mexico. As you say over and over, and as I refute over and over, SparkEV is probably a test car more than anything, and compliance being a side benefit. In the beginning, Chevy announced much wider sales only to cancel them later, probably when they decided to work on Bolt.

SparkEV will most likely be cancelled, at least in US. SparkEV takes full $7500 tax credit, same as Bolt. But Bolt costs more (more profit). Selling car that makes less profit eat into tax credit for car that makes more profit makes no sense.

If not for this (unlimited number of EV for tax credit?) SparkEV could very well live on. At 1/3 the battery size and cost to GM and quicker than my old Nissan 300ZX sports car (yeah, I’m old!), it’s very compelling car at $15K (or $18K), not just as an EV.

I agree with the ‘test car’ designation. It was their first return to pure EVs since the EV1. They experimented with the battery, the marketing, used 2 different battery makers, their first car with DC fast charging, etc.

SparkEV said:

“I doubt Chevy lost money on SparkEV based on lower MSRP in Mexico.”

SparkEV, obviously you’ve made up your mind and refuse to be confused by the facts.

You can’t handwave away the “economy of scale” law of economics by pointing to a case where a company has chosen to sell a limited number of units of a product below cost in some market for some reason or other; perhaps as a tax write-off.

The economics here are pretty straightforward: The more units of any car that’s made, the lower the per-unit cost. Therefore, any car made in such low numbers as the Spark EV can’t possibly make a profit, if its price is comparable to similarly-sized and -equipped cars.

So, was the Spark EV overpriced compared to similar cars? No. Therefore, GM lost money on it. That’s not conjecture, it’s not speculation, it’s what actually happened. Q.E.D.

And all your handwaving won’t change that fact.

Your argument is that SparkEV is nothing but a compliance car. Why would they lose even more money in Mexico where compliance is not needed? If they need tax write off, why not lower the price in compliance states and only sell in compliance states so they get more compliance credits as well as tax write off?

SparkEV is supply limited, and constantly sold out in compliance states. That’s why sales numbers are low. Then why would they sell in areas that don’t require compliance?

Your argument makes no sense.

There’s a saying, you’re entitled to your opinion, but not facts.

Your opinion is that SparkEV loses money to meet compliance. But the fact is SparkEV is sold outside of compliance states, sometimes at lower price than in compliance states.

Then your opinion is that’s for tax write off or whatever (waving your hands). But the fact is SparkEV is in short supply in compliance states, and still selling outside of those states result in fewer compliance credits.

Stick to the facts.

I can think of a certain Palo Alto based car manufacturer that loses $4,000 per car sold and I would not be considered compliance by any measure.

The reason that I find the term “compliance car” to be so useless is that people use it as an epithet to diss perfectly good cars, but can never quite describe what exactly it is that they don’t like about the car. It’s more like the way people use the term ‘hipster’ as an epithet. It doesn’t mean anything.

“certain Palo Alto based car manufacturer that loses $4,000 per car sold ”

San Carlos…

Dan said: “The reason that I find the term ‘compliance car’ to be so useless is that people use it as an epithet to diss perfectly good cars, but can never quite describe what exactly it is that they don’t like about the car.” Speaking only for myself, I use the term “compliance car” to mean an EV which the auto maker designs and manufactures in relatively small numbers, with the primary intent of earning carbon credits or zero-emission credits, rather than the primary intent of making an overall profit on the car. And even if marketing may choose to market a limited number of units of that car outside CARB compliance States, in no way alters the way the car was designed and manufactured. I don’t use the term “compliance car” to dis the quality of a car. I have no doubt the Spark EV is a fine car; I’ve rarely seen any negative remarks about it, other than the limited availability. But yeah, I am dismissive of compliance cars, because the manufacturer isn’t serious about making them. Here’s an example of why: When Toyota made the RAV4 EV, it farmed out the EV drivetrain (including battery pack) to… Read more »

You make up your own definition for compliance cars to suit your whim. Limited number of cars is NOT compliance cars. Going by your definition, Tesla is a compliance car since it’s not sold everywhere (ie, limited in some markets).

Stick with the definition, and compliance cars are only sold for compliance. If they’re sold outside of compliance, they’re not compliance cars. Most likely, those cars are test cars for future EV. In case of SparkEV, it was test for Bolt.

SparkEV was initially announced for much wider sales, only to cancel them later. Going by your definition, it was designed NOT as compliance car since much wider sale was initially planned.

All in all they lose nothing, otherwise they wouldn’t build any. EVs are much less complex to build.

That’s not true. California, and other CARB compliance States, require that a car maker which wants to sell X number of new cars in its State, must offer Y number of low-emission or zero-emission cars for sale.

Compliance cars are money-losers for the manufacturer. That’s why they’re made in such low numbers. The only reason they make them is because it’s a prerequisite to selling their more profitable cars in those States. It’s not a matter of choice.

It is kind of a quasi-compliance car.

Yeah it started in California. And then Oregon. But they do also sell it in Maryland, Canada, and South Korea.

GM was basically giving these things away to meet CARB requirements. They made and sold exactly how many they needed to.

Yup. GM got CARB credits for selling SparkEV in Korea, Canada, Mexico. In fact, GM is so desperate to get CARB credits from Mexico sales that MSRP is less in Mexico than in US.

Seriously, all these compliance car as dirty word has to stop. Compliance or not, EV still doesn’t use gas. EV1 was a compliance car, I don’t bitch about that, neither would most people.

BEV supporters often bitch about other compliance BEVS to justify their own purchase of non-compliance BEVS that are inferior in many aspect…

SparkEV said:

“EV1 was a compliance car, I don’t bitch about that, neither would most people.”

The EV1 was not a compliance car, it was a test market car. It was the fact that GM was putting the EV1 into production that got some California “green” advocates and legislators excited about the possibility of zero-emission cars, and that created a political movement resulting in CARB compliance mandates.

One can argue that the EV1 created the necessity for compliance cars, but it was designed and well on its way into production before the category of “California compliance car” was created.

You are completely wrong about EV1. You need to study why EV1 was created. It was to meet the mandate of CARB, not the other way around. As such, EV1 was strictly for compliance, only sold in compliance state. Test car? For what? They had no other EV in the works.

SparkEV on the other hand is a test car for Bolt. Seeing how it’s sold outside of compliance states, unlike EV1, SparkEV is most definitely not only for compliance.

I think you’re confusing Impact, the Aerovironment car with EV1. EV1 did not see the light of day until CARB mandate. If you go by prototype vs production car, progenitor to SparkEV was designed as EV long ago, so SparkEV is just as much “pure EV” as EV1. Seeing how SparkEV is sold outside of compliance states while EV1 was purely for compliance in CA and losing tons of money for GM, SparkEV is most definitely not only for compliance.

If below link is missing you can go to my blog and read “sparkev-destiny”

Would the motor, battery, and controller work for an experimental aircraft (Homebuilt / Kit Plane)?

May be possible, but using automotive stuff in plane is different usage characteristics. Auto is low to mid level power for long time with sporadic peak (stop lights). Plane is close to peak power for much longer with little low to mid power. Using it for plane may have reliability issues, though if it’s used at 15kW (about 60 MPH on SparkEV), it might be as reliable as car.

I read some experimental planes using Subaru boxer engine, liquid cooling and all. I just shake my head; I hope they have back up plan.

A plane uses peak power for longer than a car, but it’s still only to get up to altitude. After that it’s about like highway driving in a car.

Of course, it’s a little bit more inconvenient to run out of power before arriving at your destination.

I guess it depends on how one flies the plane. A friend of mine who builds plane says he likes to keep it as high speed as possible and far higher power than auto. If one flies at lower speed (or not nuts like him), auto would be fine. Experimental planes being more aerodynamic, they could conceivably fly at higher speed at same power, though I can’t imagine much more than 100 MPH at 15 kW.

Something else to consider is the battery weight; it’s almost 500lb (more for 2014 model) and liquid cooled. For some reason, I have aversion to liquid cooling for small plane power plant (ie, single “engine”)

Sounds good. A normal car won’t go 100 mph on 15 kW, and neither will a plane.

The Spark EV is not sold “in the US”. It is still sold just in three states. It exemplifies GMs commitment to selling EVs.

Bolt what?! Where is it? Next year you say… You sure? Really sure?! We’ll see…

I hope they’ll offer some $139 or $149 a month lease deals again before they discontinue it, if they do. I almost bought one when they first ran these, even though our Leaf lease has several months to go, because the state and local rebates where I live would have covered the entire lease cost; insurance and electricity would have been my only expenses. Excuse me while I go kick myself. 🙁

According to ev-vin web site, Fremont chevy seem to be offering $62/mo lease after $2500 CA rebate. If you don’t have link to his site, you can click on my name to get to blog post to his site. I show the math how it can be $62/mo. For some reason, links often disappear when I post here.

Thanks. Looks like the lease special ended Feb. 1 but I’ll keep an eye on these sites.

Chevy did NOT have a Bolt at the St. Louis auto show last weekend.
2 Volts were present in different trim levels.

I’ve been trying to find out if the Bolt will be at the Dallas Auto Show next month. The Dallas show is big and it usually has a lot of concept and new entry cars. I first saw the Nissan Leaf there. But I’ve also been disappointed at the Dallas shows because of weak collection of electric vehicles. Does anyone know what auto shows the Bolt will appear at this year?

We all think the Chevy Bolt is going to be a game changer but the challenges facing it are daunting. Ford sold over 400,000 Mustangs the first year it was introduced. In order to be realavent, over 100,000 Bolts have to sell in 2017 or as many Bolts have to sell in one year as all the plugins combined have sold in a single previous year. If we don’t get these kind numbers out of the Bolt then we will know that the country is still not ready for main stream BEVs.

Since GM says it only plans to make 20k-30k Bolts in the first year of production, your scenario for 2017 sales is simply not possible in the real world.

We can hope that production will ramp up in future years. But considering that GM over-estimated the market for the Volt 1.0, it is prudent of them to start out production of the Bolt more cautiously. (Note I didn’t say that I like the fact that GM is limiting production to such low numbers… just that it’s prudent.)

I’m guessing the reason they upped the quantities, is to acquire more data to crunch and roll the conclusions into the Bolt. They might have realized they need more data.

Sounds about right (and your a statistician, right? 😉
I also don’t get all these incessant arguments whether the Spark EV is a compliance car.

It’s clear that the RAV4 wasL Toyota said they would sell 2600 (IIRC), then they sold exactly that & closed the production line down.

It’s pretty clear GM wanted to experiment with a pure BEV before committing to such a vehicle.

The experiment was/is an intermediate project, more than just building a test fleet of engineering prototypes, but less than a full commercial attempt which would have included marketing & sales.

This way they have real world user data they can learn from, some of the engineering is reused in the 2016 Volt (an engineer who actually worked on the drivetrain participated in a discussion, either here or on another site), and of course, nothing prevents them from deciding to actively market the car more widely if they think it beneficial…
Unfortunately, it’s clear they don’t, given no wider sales markets, and no updating the EV model to use the 2017 gas Spark’s body.

I personally love my Spark EV. I’m a year into a three year lease and have been toying with the idea of buying it when the lease is up. It’s the perfect little daily commuter car and might serve useful when my daughter gets to driving age. Overall it’s a great little car … sorry to see it go even though I understand the reasons.

Imagine how many Spark’s might have been sold if they were available Nation wide. By not being so, is the textbook definition of a compliance car. It’s still ugly though.

If SparkEV was seriously pushed, it might’ve eaten all tax credit, and Bolt would cost $7500 more. Meanwhile, other automakers would still qualify for tax credit, making Bolt uncompetitive (or more so). GM’s decision to limit SparkEV was probably the right thing to do if Bolt is considered.

But can you imagine a nationwide push for SparkEV? Using typical chevy commercial with announcer and “normal” people

Announcer: Which car do you think is quickest in 0-60mph under $20K after all incentives?

People: Corolla? Elantra? Fiesta? Mazda 2? Golf?

Announcer: No. It’s Chevy SparkEV. It’s $15K in CA, and almost 3 seconds quicker than Corolla.

People: WOW!

Background: Chevy SparkEV. It’s electric and it’ll knock your socks off. And, oh yeah, it’s great for the environment, too.

You won’t be able to keep young people away from it.

If GM had made the Spark EV in considerably larger numbers, it would have had to give it a considerably higher price, to avoid losing so much money on every sale.

It looks like the Bolt, unlike the Spark EV, is designed to eventually make a profit for GM. Auto makers make different choices when they’re designing a car for high volume production vs. low volume, test market or “compliance car” volumes. Since the Spark EV was never intended to be a high-volume car, upping the production significantly would make no sense from the viewpoint of profit-making.

Now, if the Spark EV had been designed from the start to be a high production car, then it would be different. But it wasn’t, and it’s not.

And you don’t see the contradiction in your statement? You say “compliance cars” cost high due to lack of volume, but high volume production would still have to cost high? SparkEV must tick you off in some magical way.

Fact is, SparkEV is very simple mod to SparkGas. Batteries are pretty much the same as Volt, motor/controller made in-house probably minor tweak from Volt, onboard charger probably the same as Volt, there’s really not much “revolutionary” new. Even the charger port is same as SparkGas filler port, unlike Chademo would require. Since they use Volt parts, there’s cost reduction due to volume.

Contrast that with Fiat 500e that outsource drivetrain to Bosche, or Rav4EV or any other low volume car that must make all new parts only for the EV, and SparkEV is quite profitable at its price.

Dear GM, please call in all your chits, spend heavily on the election, all those things you do, cuz even Tea-partiers can get the imbalance of innovators getting screwed when their credits get used up and late-arriving “foreign” competition get to capitalize when the market is growing (not ‘correct’ but it’ll work).

IF they’ll extend the credits, you agree to keep offering the Spark EV for the young audience you were trying to addict to EV in the first place.

“Once an electron, always an electron” and obviously a GM electron would make you happy.