The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Review: The Spark EV is General Motors’ entry in the growing all-electric car segment. These cars sell in small numbers and are not for everyone, but GM has taken its experience with the Volt plug-in hybrid and other hybrids it sells to bring a strong competitor to market.
The Spark is small, just over 12 feet nose-to-tail, but it has a second row seat that accommodates two average-size adults (like me). Because the side windows drop down at the front, the feeling in this mini-car is surprisingly open and airy. The car is just over five feet wide, but a tall roofline and chair-height seats make the experience comfortable.
The Spark is also sold as an entry-level gas-powered model, so it’s naturally built to a budget, but the look and feel are more upscale than you might expect. The Electric Blue trim in my tester brightened the gray interior considerably. Colorful electronic gauges fill a motorcycle-style binnacle behind the fat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the 7-inch center console screen supplies plenty of other useful information on entertainment, climate, phone, and energy use.
Electric cars have the virtue of running virtually silently and consuming no gasoline, but their major downside is range. Other than the extremely expensive Tesla Model S, electric cars have a hard time getting past 80-100 miles on a charge. Charging times are long too, depending on the type of charger. The Spark fills its lithium-ion battery pack from empty in 7 hours on a 240-volt level 2 charger, such as the public ones offered by Blink and ChargePoint in parking lots. At home, on standard household current, it can take over 17 hours.
The Spark may be designed for efficiency, but it is actually fun to drive. At just under 3,000 pounds, it sits firmly on the road, and feels very stable while rolling along and during turning maneuvers. The big drawing card is the motor’s 400 lb.-ft. of torque that, along with 140 horsepower (105 kW), can zip it smoothly from 0 to 60 in under 8 seconds. It feels like flying. There’s also a Sport button that lets you launch even more quickly, but it drains the battery faster.
I received my Summit White tester with a little more than half a charge on it, enough to make the 30-mile trip home. I parked it in my driveway and immediately plugged it into the charger in my garage (the cord is nice and long). With the 17-hour fill time, the battery was not fully charged in the morning, but there was enough to get to work. I took the Spark to my closest charging station and topped it off (in about 4 hours). That night, I drove home, but still had plenty of charge left, so the next morning, it was full.
The colorful range gauge said 96 miles (despite the EPA’s 82).
I was able to drive to work and home with plenty of extra charge. This means that if I had a 240 charger in my garage, the Spark would be a perfect commute vehicle, as long as I had another car available for longer trips.
The existence of these range limits can be frustrating, but it also changes your driving behavior. For one thing, using the displays in the car, you learn to drive more efficiently. You can monitor your acceleration and braking and keep them smooth. The Spark is a very good regenerator, so you may actually add to your range as you’re driving, or see the number stay static for several miles. Stop-and-go traffic is a drag, but it’s great for electric cars.
The range limits forced me to make smart decisions. Instead of driving into the city to visit my mom, I took public transit and had her pick me up. That saved gasoline (and bridge fare) and I got to read my book. And, when I wanted to drive to a Jazz festival, I met my friend at his house and we carpooled. So new technology creates new behavior.
Electric cars are not cheap, but with government tax breaks and attractive leases, it can be easy to own one.
My test car was the 2LT upper model, with fancifully patterned leatherette seats and a nice leather wheel, and it came to $28,570, including destination charge. On the way to work, I saw a billboard with a $199/month two-year lease on Spark EVs. Considering the savings of home electric charging versus $4-a-gallon gasoline that could mean you’re practically driving for free.
I have tested several small electric vehicles. All are enjoyable to drive for their quietness and the feeling of helping the planet. The Spark EV has been the most fun so far.
By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
The Bottom Line: The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV is Chevy’s newest entry into the electric car field after the Chevy Volt. The car is smaller, lighter and cheaper than a Volt, but it’s still an entry level Spark. That said the drive train is zero emissions and 100% electric.
With an electric car you’re practically driving for free. Charging times vary from the 110 volt chargers to the 220 volt chargers, but even thou you do not have to buy gas for it, you still have to charge it with electricity, either at home or at work.
EV’s are here now as everyday drivers and do have a small following. But leasing an electric car just might be the way to go. Drive a brand new one today, then get the newer and better one every 2 years down the road.
Engineers are hard at work developing better batteries and shorter charging times, and that will bring the price down too. The Spark has a base MSRP price of around $28K, and is one of the cheapest electric cars you can buy today, and maybe, just for that reason alone, you should “Drive one, and Buy one, Today ©”
Bottom Line Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Bottom Line Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net - “Tony the Car Guy” is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit AutoWire.Net at www.autowire.net - And remember: “ You Are What You Drive©”
Column Name: With an electric car you’re practically driving for free
Topic: The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
Word Count: 1,124
Photo Caption: The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
Photo Credits: Chevrolet Spark EV Internet Media
Series #: 2014 - 24
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2014 Chevrolet Spark
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2014 Chevrolet Spark