Chevy Spark EV & Bolt
The Bowtie Gets Juiced
By Ron Amadon
ARLINGTON VA. – The Chevy Spark all electric model was designed to be an urban runabout, so it was apropos that my test drive was centered in a congested new building/construction zone of this busy Washington suburb.
With its ample torque, small size and jazzy interior your first thought behind the wheel is, “Hey, this is a fun ride” between the tall towers already occupied and those yet to come.
So what sparks the Spark as it were? A 105-kilowatt electric motor rated at 140 horsepower with 327 lb-ft of torque accounts for its lively performance from urban stop lights. There is an 18.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that comes with limited warranty protection for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Chevy claims a 7.5 second run to 60 and that would make it faster than many rivals, all of which bypass gas stations forever more. Yet, I can’t help you with, “Dad, I gotta go.”
The car, not the kid necessarily, has a range of 82 miles and that is in the ball park of its competition.
With a 240 volt charger you can get things back to peak charge level in seven hours. With the household standard of 110 volts that gets extended to up to 20 hours. Chevy said the Spark is compatible with the SAE combo charger for DC Fast Charging as option. With that combination, a recharge to 80 percent power can be obtained in about 20 minutes.
Available in two trim levels, 1LT and 2LT, the Spark sports a comfortable and modern interior with a wealth of information available in the dash panel accessible via a rotary switch to the left.
The test model, a 2LT, featured heated seats and navi along with OnStar and a 4G LTE Wi-FI hotspot with connectivity for up to seven devices.
There was ample room for a six foot tall driver and passenger up front and two adults would be okay to the rear for short trips. Fold down the rear seats and you create 23.4 cubic feet of storage space, or about 7.8 cubic feet less than the gas powered Spark. The battery had to go somewhere.
For entertainment, the Spark can connect with an owners’ smartphone for apps such as Pandora, Sticher, TuneIn and Global Internet radio with access to 70,000 global radio stations, among other goodies. For those with compatible iPhones, the system brings the Siri Personal Assistant into the car. Standard equipment included remote start/cabin pre-conditioning, heated driver and front passenger seats, push button start and Onstar. The center stack features a seven inch full color touch screen with infotainment display and audio controls. There is also, on the center console, a switch to engage the Sport driving mode at the expense of some efficiency.
At just 145 inches long, the Spark was about as easy to park as anything on four wheels.
If you can live with the range of an electric vehicle, travel primarily in urban environments and like the idea of a car that emits nothing, the Spark EV is very worthy of a test drive.
That is, if you live in Oregon or California where in selected urban areas around LA and San Francisco electrics are hot sellers. In the next month or so, the Spark EV will start showing up at dealers in Maryland as well.
California residents may qualify for a $2,500 state rebate or in Maryland a $2,300 excise tax exemption. Additional Chevy “Bonus Cash” is available amounting to $1,000 in California, $1,200 in Maryland and $3,500 in Oregon. After full federal and state tax credits and the “bonus” cash, Chevy said the Spark can be had for $14,995.
An added incentive is that EV owners in Maryland and California are eligible for High Occupancy Vehicle or carpool lane access.
But to use that old phrase, wait, there’s more.
For those who would prefer not to move up to the Volt hybrid, the Chevy Bolt is on the horizon. Chevy said it will have an impressive range of 200 miles and will be sold in all 50 states.
GM has not disclosed when production of the Bolt will begin, but did say it will carry a target price of about $30,000, but then there are all those rebates. It will be a five passenger car constructed at the Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan.
There is speculation the Bolt will hit the market in 2017. Its impressive range it could make it a hot seller depending on where the price of gas is at the time. If you can predict those prices, you are smarter than the Wizard of Id.