First Test Drive Review Of Chevrolet Spark EV

JUN 21 2013 BY JAY COLE 16

Earlier this week – Monday to be specific, we reported that the first Chevrolet Spark EVs had reached dealerships in California, ready to be sold.

New, Lower Priced Entries Like The Spark EV Have Made The i-MiEV Go From The Cheapest EV, To Firmly Middle Of The Road...Tagline Not Quite As Good Anymore

Cheaper Entries Like The Spark EV Have Made The i-MiEV Go From The Cheapest EV To Middle Of The Road Pricing…Which Means The Tagline Is Not Quite As Good Anymore

Since then, it took Consumer Reports less than 72 hours to get their hands on one and file a “first drive” report…they seem to like it.

“The latest Chevrolet Spark is the most recent EV to attempt to shatter electric cars’ reputation as anemic and inept. And it succeeds, being the best version of this small hatchback. Unlike the Mitsubishi i, this is no glorified golf cart.”

Comparatively speaking, the tiny Spark EV gets 82 miles of range from a starting MSRP of $27,495; the even smaller Mitsubishi i-MiEV will net you just 62 miles from a price of $29,975.

 

Performance

Consumer Reports Questions GM's Decision To Only Offer 3.3 kW Level 2 Charging

Consumer Reports Questions GM’s Decision To Only Offer 3.3 kW Level 2 Charging

Consumer Reports leads with the electric Chevy’s strongest suit – on road dynamics.

The Spark EV has a 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds, making it one of the fastest publicly available plug-ins on the market today…not bad considering it is also the second cheapest EV offering in the US (after the smart ED).

Thanks to an astounding 400 lb-ft of torque and some unique gearing, CR finds that the Spark EV is one of the few EVs that keeps pulling all the way up to its top speed of 90 mph.

“Turning the diminutive Spark into an EV transforms it into a punchy, zippy, fun little runabout, a far cry from the conventional, slow noisy and stiff Spark that earned a meager overall score in our tests.”

The auto magazine also notes the extra 7 miles of range the Spark EV has over its top-selling Japanese rival – the Nissan LEAF, but laments GM’s fairly dated decision to give their car only 3.3 kW charging, making a full charge of the EV’s 21.3 kWh battery take an unnecessarily long time.

“It takes seven hours to replenish the battery on 240 volts. It could have been faster had GM chosen a 6.6-kWh onboard charger, but GM’s engineers say they didn’t see the need for it. They did, however, go to the trouble of equipping the Spark with the new SAE “combo” charging port that eventually will allow for fast DC charging to 80 percent of the battery’s capacity in 20 minutes.”

Italian Rival Fiat 500e and Chevrolet Spark EV Interiors

Italian Rival Fiat 500e and Chevrolet Spark EV Interiors

Interior/Interface

Consumer Reports (and almost all reviewers) have never been a big fan of many electric vehicles ‘range estimators’ as the variance is too wide.  A light foot equals an excessive estimate, a heavy foot a very pessimistic one;  and while this still true in the Spark EV, GM engineers have carried forward some Volt-learning to provide both ends of the guessing spectrum in the Spark EV’s “confidence meter.”

As for the interactive “connected radio,” it is the same set-up in the gas Spark (as an option).  The 7″ display screen includes Pandora, Stitcher, Tune-In Internet radio, Bluetooth phone pairing, and GM’s BringGo navigation system.   But be warned, the unit only utilizes your smart phone’s data plan; so if you are on a limited plan, you could be in for a shock at billing time.

Availability

Currently the Spark EV is only available in California and Oregon.  When added with state credits, the Spark EV gets a $10,000 discount in California ($17,495 effective) and $8,250 in Oregon ($19,245).  The Spark is also available from $199/month ($999 down), ex-state rebates.

Yahoo! Consumer Reports

Categories: Chevrolet

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16 Comments on "First Test Drive Review Of Chevrolet Spark EV"

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David Murray

I think there is an error there. If the i-Miev only sells for $29.75 then I think I need to go buy a few, even though they are ugly.

Alan Campbell

I think the decision for GM to install the slow 3.3 charger in the Spark EV, that is standard on the Leaf S, is an effort to push consumers to use public charging more. Which of course will cost the consumer more dollars every time they do it, since you can’t have a Combo Charger at home.

At least Nissan offers a $1300 upgrade to get the 6.6 charger to the Leaf S to correct their mistake.

Adding a 6.6 charger to the Spark EV makes too much sense from the consumer standpoint for it to be an ‘oversight’ from GMs perspective. GM understands that over 80% of EV charging is done at home, and offering the slow 3.3 charger will hurt sales for no good reason.

Brian

My guess is parts commonality with the Volt. It may make sense to have 3.3kW charging in the Volt. In order to save money, I’m betting they simply used the same charger.

Warren

i suspect the reason has more to do with bringing it in under the Leaf S price point. If it sells as well as it should, they can offer the 6.6 kW charger as an option later.

Stuart22

Compliance car! Compliance car! COMPLIANCE CAR!!!

David Murray

That remains to be seen. You could be right, though.

James

Odd though, how other EV manufacturers have just kept mum about
their product ( FitEV ) being totally compliance, where Fiat’s CEO
just plain comes out and admits it – Then we have Chevy, who
thrusts their hands in the air and swears it aint so!

I don’t know if this shows the true character of the particular company,
or GM truly, really honestly sees Spark EV as a moneymaker and
nationwide seller.

evnow

So CR also doesn’t understand Leaf gets a 84 mile range on EPA test when charged to 100%. Well done EPA, pat yourself on the back for the stupid standard.

David Murray

Agreed – I think all this will serve to do in the future is give the manufacturers a reason to eliminate the long-life mode.

CAMiEV

I don’t think the Spark EV is as roomy as the Miev. More fun to drive, but less practical than an iMiev.

Dan Frederiksen

Pretty good accceleration. Faster than a Subaru BRZ
But of course in an electric car with A123 cells, it’s trivial to make it a lot faster.
But they are sluggish minds who hesitate to make it outshine their old tech

James

Or B234, or C456…. ?

Warren

The Spark EV is not a Miata, but it is a whole lot closer than the Leaf. Only an accountant could get excited about the Leaf. I have ridden around in one three times now, and could not wait to get out. It is even more Corolla-like than my wife’s Corolla!

Warren

I really liked the Tesla Roadster. I mean, it was a Lotus for crying out loud. But the S, like all luxury sedans, is just a Buick Lucerne for rich people. And real rich people have a chauffeur! Driving around in any of these appliances, especially on the soul destroying interstate, makes me long for the train, even a bus! At least I could curl up and sleep. I really hate our transportation system.

Warren

And SUV’s. Trucks for people who couldn’t pass the truck drivers test! I think I will go for a bicycle ride. I always feel better after I ride my bicycle. 🙂

Karl
CR sucks I recently had contact with stacksof them several years deep and found it like a bad movie- flashbacks, of all those moments they demonstrate that not only is there budget in total a pittance compared to what The NYT’s gets from teen mom’s who live in RV’s that have no carpet subscriptions, the collective harm to progressive capital investment by consumer’s with real intent, so the same goes for your meta upon there meta about how you say for example “dated” carrying the tire changer around that’s second class when NOBODY carries a what- a refinery around with them- this is not your Gore gasoline to hydrogen box pox. Rather they day after tomorrow the first chinese street legal ‘car’ will sell, with a few hundred miles if that, for ninety percent off- likely WAY under two thousand bucks. THe commentor’s preceding me could not be more stingy- but I feel there bitterness in that. A kickstarter dares to sell vanilla chemistry and a motor for it’s sveltness with early adopters only needing to line his pockets by hundreds despite spending thousands themselves and what you get- four figures of watts by hours on board, for an individual… Read more »