General Motors took the covers off the Chevrolet Spark EV just before the opening of the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Spark will be among the smallest battery electric vehicles on the market, but Chevy hopes to make up for its lack of size with a low price of entry and quick charging times.
Not surprisingly, the Spark EV looks almost exactly like a gasoline-powered Spark. The EV gets model-specific front and rear bumpers, including some Volt-esque trim to cover the now-superfluous grille, and a flat plastic undertray for aerodynamic efficiency.
Under the hood is an electric motor that produces 130 horsepower and a fairly astounding 400 pound-feet of torque. That means the EV is much more powerful than the regular Spark, which only has 84 hp and 83 lb-ft.
Even with an added 560 pounds of 20-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, the Spark EV should have more vigor than its gasoline-powered sibling, or at least keep up with traffic better.
Speaking of batteries, Chevy says the Spark will have “among the best EV range performance in its segment,” but no range figures have been released.
The Spark EV will be offered with the new SAE Combo DC Fast Charge system. This optional fast charging mode can charge the battery to 80 percent of capacity in 20 minutes.
The Spark EV is also compatible with AC120V and AC240V chargers. With 240 volts of electricity flowing through its plug, the Spark EV can recharge in about seven hours. A 120V charge will take longer.
A 2012 Nissan Leaf with a 24-kWh lithium-ion battery pack takes 30 minutes to reach an 80 percent charge on a DC fast charger. It also takes about seven hours to charge using a 240V outlet.
Spark owners can also coordinate their charging to coincide with off-peak electricity rates, using OnStar.com or a Chevrolet Mobile App to monitor their vehicles.
On the inside, the Spark sports a pair of reconfigurable seven-inch LCD screens, which can display battery charge levels and range based on a “confidence gauge” that predicts how far the Spark will go based on the way it is driven.
The Spark EV also benefits from tech upgrades to the regular Spark. Drivers with the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 can integrate Siri with the car’s MyLink infotainment system, which includes navigation, Pandora radio, and a variety of apps.
Chevy will roll out the Spark EV in select markets over the coming months. For now, it will only be sold in California, Oregon, Canada, South Korea, and “other global markets.”
An exact price was not released, but the Spark EV will apparently cost less than $25,000 when tax credits are factored in. If the Spark qualifies for the same $7,500 federal tax credit as the Leaf or Volt, its actual price could be around $30,000.