Meet the Polar Opposite of the Gas-Swilling Spark
Engine - 1.2L L4
Power - 84 hp / 83 lb-ft
Transmission - Automatic
Seats - 4 adults
MPG - 32 City / 38 Hwy
MSRP - $12,245
Chris Twarog, energy and battery integration engineer for General Motors, hit the nail on the head as he talked me through a 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV cutaway demo unit. I'll paraphrase his noteworthy remark: While the plain-Jane, 84-horsepower, 1.2-liter Spark (with rear drum brakes and optional four-speed automatic) isn't the model of a technically advanced car, its battery-electric variant is -- in spades.
You read it right. The A-segment hatchback that moonlights as an Autobot benefits from a wide array of efficiency enhancing technologies during its EV transformation, despite looking more or less the same as its exhaust-emitting sibling. But electrification is the major difference between the Spark and the Spark EV, so let's get the main components out of the way. Down in front, between the drive wheels, lies a permanent-magnet electric motor. At the core level, it incorporates teachings from the Volt and other eAssist and Two-Mode hybrid efforts. Offering motive force through the single-speed reduction transaxle, the motor is preliminarily rated for more than 134 horsepower and around 400 lb-ft of torque. (The latter number will surely be a fun talking point.) E-motor torque and power profiles can be designed for one or the other depending on application - the Spark EV is definitely after torque. Twarog assures the torque curve is very flat, meaning the motor is highly tractable and suitable for a wide range of driving behaviors. For starters, the Spark EV has no trouble getting out of the hole, and the manufacturer-quoted 0-60 mph time of fewer than 8 seconds is a huge leap from the 11.3 seconds we extracted from a Spark gasser with the five-speed manual. We'll likely see the official e-motor outputs (along with a ton of other unreleased information) at the L.A. auto show, where the car will formally debut.
More at: 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Prototype Quick Drive - Motor Trend