The 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show was filled with innovations in safety, infotainment, and battery-powered electric vehicles. With plenty of tech to pick from, we decided to dive a bit deeper on two of our favorites from the show: the Chevy Spark EV and BMW i3 Coupe.
Chevy Spark EV
GM's first full electric vehicle since the EV1 (of Who Killed the Electric Car fame), the Chevy Spark EV takes a different approach than before. Practicality is now among the chief concerns for carmakers diving into the EV game.
Making its debut in front of the cameras at the LA show, Spark EV is an all-electric version of the gas-powered microcar that recently began selling in the U.S. Powered by a 20 kWh, A123-supplied, nanophosphate ithium-ion battery, Spark EV is estimated to be at the top of its segment for electric range. (GM isn't providing an official estimated range, but the Indian version of the Spark, the Chevy Beat EV, has a range of 80 miles.)
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Output of the electric motor is 130 horsepower and a whopping 400 pound-feet of torque, which should be more than enough to get this little guy around the city. When the battery is low, there are many options to recharge. A standard 120-volt charger is of course available, but owners will want to take advantage of the 7-hour charge time from a 240-volt charger, or even better, the 80% recharge in 20 minutes with an optional connector.
The Spark's interior is tech-filled as well. A new LCD gauge cluster, reminiscent of Chevy's Volt, uses bright animations to display battery charge information. And like the Volt, there is an emphasis on connecting to the driver's smartphone.
The Spark EV infotainment philosophy is "smart phone, dumb screen," meaning that smartphone functionality will be available to the driver in "eyes-free" mode. Spark EV will be the first car to integrate Siri into the system through a button on the steering wheel, but many controls will still be unavailable at launch, such as navigation control.