Introduced on Wednesday: 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
What it is: The subcompact Spark, the car with the largest headlights (per square inch) in the industry, is going gasless. And senseless.
What it isn’t: It isn’t competitive. A Spark – if you really must have one – can be bought with a thrifty gas engine for less than $13,000.
What makes it tick: A coaxial drive unit and electric motor combo, good for 130 horsepower and an impressive 400 pound-feet of torque, juiced by a 20-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. It can be fast-charged to 80 percent of capacity in as little as 20 minutes, using an optional connector; the batteries can also be topped up in about seven hours on a dedicated 240-volt line; 120-volt charging is also possible, but be prepared to wait. And wait. Chevrolet is not saying what the Spark EV’s range will be other than “among the best in the segment”, which is probably about 80 miles.
How much, how soon? Don’t be fooled by those “under $25,000” claims. The M.S.R.P. is close to $33,000, including destination charges; Chevy is helping you do the math in the event you meet qualifications for a $7,500 government tax credit by buying an E.V. On sale next year in California and Korea, as the company previously announced; Chevy also says it will be available in Oregon, Canada and other global markets.
Our take: A gas-powered Spark is a reasonable choice if your child at college needs budget transportation; it seems to make little sense to spend nearly twice as much for a version of the same car — that can do less.