I have driven the Chevrolet Spark EV and it’s fast, faster than the regular 85-horsepower gasoline-only Spark minicar.
For the driving experience alone, the Spark EV is a winner. My question to General Motors: Why is this highly advanced Spark, with all its glittering technology and entertaining performance, a Chevy, not a Cadillac?
Because not matter how amazing the Spark is, GM can only charge Chevy prices. If it were a Caddy, GM’s premium brand might command premium pricing and that would help offset the enormous development costs. We won’t know the exact Spark pricing until next summer when it arrives in dealerships, but whatever it is, GM would be able to add $10,000 to the sticker if it were a Cadillac.
However, GM sees EVs as cars for the masses, so they are being marketed heavily through the Chevy brand. That’s a huge error and one GM will need to live with. Buyers of the Spark, meanwhile, will live with a nimble little city runabout that GM says has “among the best EV range in its class. The Spark EV’s more than 20 kWh lithium-ion battery pack will continue Chevrolet’s tradition of industry-leading warranty protection of eight years or 100,000 miles [160,000 km].”
As a pure driving machine, the Spark sells itself. The 0-100 km/h acceleration time falls in around 8 seconds, or nearly four seconds faster than the gasoline Spark over the same distance. Output from the electric motor mated to the drive unit is rated at 100 kW or 130 hp, which is plenty for this lightweight grocery-getter.
But what matters most is the smooth, yet instantaneous, torque from the electric drivetrain. It’s rated at 400 lb-ft, which is more in line with pricey, high-performance sedans. This pint-sized gem will nip in and out and around traffic with the best of them.
GM is also selling the idea of quick charging the upcoming Spark EV. Using a fast charging unit, it should be possible to recharge up to 80 per cent of the lithium ion battery pack in 20 minutes. “Charging can also be completed in less than seven hours using a dedicated 240V charge,” while “a 120V charge cord set is standard,” says GM.
All that is nice, but the truth is, the Spark has plenty of appeal for buyers simply looking for an entertaining ride. Imagine that: an EV that sells on its performance alone, range-limited as it is.