By on May 23, 2013

spark

Prepare for a low intensity price war over electric vehicles. GM announced that its all-electric  Chevrolet Spark, going on sale next month in California and Oregon, will sell for as low as $19,995 after the full federal tax credit of $7,500.  According to the calculations of Reuters, that’s “as much as 38 percent less than what it takes to buy its larger sibling, the hybrid Volt.”

The larger Volt sells for about $32,500 after the tax credit. MSRP of the base Spark will be $27,495, undercutting the Mitsubishi i-MiEV ($29,975) and the Nissan Leaf ($29,650). It is expected that there will be a reaction.

The car can be leased for as low as $199 a month for 36 months with $999 due at signing. California EV owners may also qualify for other state and local tax credits and incentives of up to $2,500, reducing the price to $17,495. EV owners in California are also eligible for carpool lane access with only a solitary driver in the car.

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69 Comments on “Let the Sparks Fly: Get ready For The EV Wars...”


  • avatar

    EVs still account for less than 5% of the cars on American roads and it’s gona be that way for a long time unless the HOUSING MARKET makes a full turnaround and people can afford houses again. You need a place to charge these things and America doesn’t have the infrastructure to cater to them. The only people buying pure EV have a garage or live in a building that gives them access to one.

    DIESEL has a better chance of dominating than EV does because it’s so much easier to deal with fossil fuels. That’s what the green movement will never accept. All the usable energy on earth is fossil fuels. The Sun sends us energy and plants turn it into fossil fuels – including biodiesel which we don’t have to wait millions of years for. Nuclear power is too difficult to make safe despite it’s superior energy content. Solar requires too much space.

    What we REALLY SHOULD BE DOING is using E.Coli BACTERIA TO MAKE DIESEL FUEL. There’s NO SHORTAGE of bacteria. Imagine being able to turn food waste into useable energy. It would be like sh!tt!ng in your gas tank.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Diesel is not going to dominate as you say it is, not because of the green movement who is for vehicles that get better mileage and diesels have much improved on emissions. Its the other side of the political coin, the oil barons who don’t want to provide more diesel as it doesn’t provide nearly as much profit, the massive truck companies and unions who don’t want to share diesel with passenger cars on a grand scale and the massive corporations like WalMart who live by trucking and want to keep that market to themselves.

      EVs make great sense to those that live in the urban areas or just need a simple commuter to get them to work.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I disagree. The main reason why diesel hasn’t taken off here is the price disparity with gasoline – the environmental issues have largely been solved. If diesel was on a par with gas price-wise, diesel vehicles would be more popular.

        And why wouldn’t Wal Mart get behind that?

        • 0 avatar
          dolorean

          Its not WalMart personally, its the trucking corps that are the lifeline of its operations. The thinking goes if diesel demand grows, supply would shrink and costs would go up, thereby reducing the profits on sweat-shop polo shirts imported from Bangladesh. Its part of the argument T Boone Pickens made to switch trucking over to CNG. Remember as well, that urban centers and suburbs have about three days of supplies on hand and that we are near totally dependant on trucking to keep it that way.

        • 0 avatar
          Beerboy12

          Diesel costs less than gasoline to produce because it is less refined. Modern, common rail turbo diesel engines require an ultra low sulfur content and that does add cost to production but, I understand, still not enough to make it more expensive than gasoline to make. Hence, the high price of Diesel is manufactured… I do not wish to comment of the reasons for that.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            From any given barrel of crude there is a set percentage of products that can be distilled from it cheaply. Back in the day diesel was cheaper than gas because it wasn’t used very much, that meant there was more diesel than demand and led to low prices. Now with high demand for diesel they have to do much more expensive refining to get the right mix of diesel vs gas from that barrel of oil. If diesel is even more widespread then the difference in price will only increase, or gasoline becomes the “waste” product and it’s price drops.

          • 0 avatar
            Truckducken

            Scoutdude is dead on. But if CNG takes off in the US trucking fleet, diesel suddenly gets cheaper and more available. Wait and see…

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Agree with scout, but to add, the more stringent emmisions standards for diesel also had a fairly significant impact on the price, since it had to be more refined and go through more processes.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I agree Hummer, the low sulfur requirements added to the cost of production diesel.

          • 0 avatar
            Beerboy12

            I was trying to compare the cost of making diesel from a barrel of crude vs making gasoline from a barrel of crude. Supply and demand is one of the factors that lead to the higher diesel price but, it is not the manufacturing cost, even with the sulfur filtering. I believe the cost of refining is about the same with Low sulfur diesel being slightly cheaper.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    My own threshold for an EV with a 100 mile range is $15K. EVs start to make economic sense at current gas prices if you drive in the 10K+ miles per year range. This assumes you don’t have to replace the battery pack for at least 10 years, and spend virtually nothing on maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      What is your threshold for a non-EV?

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        @Felix, interesting that you put a price and a mileage. I agree it should be a 100 mile range. However, fuel costs are not the only savings to an EV. An owner would also not have to worry about oil changes and tune ups not to mention other odds and ends such as air filters and O2 sensors and if you compare those costs along with fuel over 10 years of an EV versus say, a diesel V8, the savings are very, very good.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Dolorean,

      Agreed maintenance on the EV should be much lower than an ICE engine. However, there are pesky power electronics on an EV that I have no idea of their lifespan or replacement cost. For a margin of safety, I didn’t credit the possible lower repair costs of the EV.
      Also, since most of the savings with an EV comes from lower fuel costs, driving it more gives a better return on the investment.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        For my master’s degree I had to develop three business plans. One was the ubiquitous lawn-service company; however, I went the green-electric alley for a variety of reasons. One was the quietness of the activity that would allow the company to maintain grounds of hospitals and nursing homes and other areas where less sound, the better. I won’t bore you with the 30 pages of supporting research but I found that although the upfront costs of electrically (battery) powered equipment is a bit more precious, in the not-to-long run you can recoup the loss by the non-existant fuel and much, much lower maintenance costs. Figured it may be the same with EVs.

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    I find it interesting the only time people break out calculators when it comes to cars is when they are EV or a hybrid.

    I have yet to see someone bust out a TI-83 over an F-150 Raptor or a SRT8 Charger (aka too much vehicle to do a basic purpose).

    If you are into the green scene this is a smoking deal. This would be a killer city car.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      SomeGuy,

      I’ve always found that strange as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      An EV is a niche vehicle, I can pickup and go across country at a moments notice in either of those vehicles and be a hell of a lot more comfortable.
      The market for EVs is limited, once the few that want them get them then the sales can only go down.
      Not much reason for an EV other than the “being different” factor.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        So is a two seat sports car.

        We seem to have no problem justifying the purchase of one of those.

        And most of us owners will never do a track day, much less race.

        • 0 avatar
          dolorean

          +1 Syke

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I can take a 2 seat sports car (corvette in mind) across country at a moments notice, I’ll have to pack fairly light but it could be done easily

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            I’d take an EV to the airport that is 30 miles away, hop a plane, beat you to the destination by a day, grab a rental at the destination across the country, and have the same amount of money in my pocket (assuming you were taking a Charger SRT or Raptor).

            Or, you know, take either of the IC vehicles still in my small fleet. I’d probably choose flying 80% of the time. I did a overnight drive from the mid atlantic area to the badlands in south dakota in my GTI. It was terrible. We flew to Glacier 2 years ago and it was a much more pleasant backcountry trip.

            JMHO, but justifying a 3rd “fun” car is a lot harder to justify than switching one of your vehicles over to EV. Our MINI S never leaves a 50 mile radius from my house anymore because the 4Runner and Prius wagon get there more comfortably for the same or [much] less money. When you factor in personal property taxes, insurance, oil changes based on time instead of mileage, registration, inspections, etc, the yearly cost of our weekend car is massive for how little we drive it. When my work provided lease is up on the Prius, I’ll have to really sit down and see if replacing the MINI and the Prius with a Tesla S or X is possible.

      • 0 avatar
        rolosrevenge

        Have you ever taken a cross country trip at a moments notice? I never have, I’ve never had to take any thing anywhere near that at a moments notice. I remember when my older brother was in a terrible car accident several states away and my parents had to leave a moments notice, but since they wanted to get there quickly, they just flew.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          No, but I do frequently have to drive 2-3 hours on short notice, which isn’t a stretch for many people. For that, a straight up EV still isn’t feasible.

          • 0 avatar
            rolosrevenge

            You should check the range ratings on a P85 Model S, you should be able to do 2-3 hours just fine considering that’s less than 200 miles.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not surprising. People’s only experience “charging” technology has come from smartphones and tablets. We all KNOW that those devices NEVER last the advertised amount of time – and weather causes even more fluctuations in their charging.

      MEANWHILE, I.C.E can easily be refueled just about anywhere and the amount of time required to refuel is measured in minutes rather than the EV’s HOURS.

      Then you consider the COST. Over time, EV proliferation will make them cheaper, but why would I spend $60,000 on a Model S when I could get an Audi, BMW or Mercedes for less?

      Why would I spend more than $30,000 on a COMPACT EV when I could buy a Fusion, Sonata, Dart, 200, Optima, or even a $25,500 Charger for less without having to worry about the gimmicky electric charging rates? Gasoline is a damn good option when compared with the hassle of having to find a power plug. I don’t need to adjust my behavior with Gasoline. I just pull up to a station and fill up. Almost no one runs out of gas and gets stranded anymore. It can easily happen to pure EV.

      This is why I feel that all EV should offer a region specific on-board generator as an option. If you live where CNG is cheap, there should be a CNG generator offered. If you live where diesel is cheap, then so forth and so on.

      Too bad those IDIOTS at Fisker didn’t make it large enough cause I doubt they would have failed and they’d have been a decent competition for the Model S. “One has gas backup, one doesn’t”.

      I recommend Car developers use MY BODY to ensure their cars have enough space.

      • 0 avatar
        jansob

        Indeed. I love the idea of electrics, I really do…but I just can’t see buying a car that I have to rearrange my life around. I’m not a geek, and don’t get a thrill out of making sure my life is utterly predictable and rationally planned at all times.

        Last week we hopped in the car and went to Costco, an hour away. On the way my daughter saw a sign for the zoo…30 minutes further on than Costco. It was early, it was a beautiful day. We went, had a good time, then went to Costco and returned home. Were we in a Leaf, this would have been an opportunity to explain to my 3-year-old how we were saving the planet by using coal-fired energy pushed over leaky lines to the only place in town we could recharge….and no, we weren’t seeing the giraffe today.

        At current technology levels, EVs are for engineers and Commander Data. Hybrids are far more practical for ordinary, irrational, careless humans.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      This would be a killer city car that I would be hard-pressed to drive more than 5,000 miles/year, given its range limitations. In fact, my DD is a gasoline-powered car that is 13 years old and has 69,000 miles on it. I bought it when it was two years old and had about 25,000 miles. As they say, “do the math.” At least my car will carry me on an occasional 80 mile roundtrip jaunt to see my 87 year old father in Annapolis, or take me up to Philadelphia to see my daughter, etc. The Leaf and the rest of these cars will do none of those things.

      The reason people don’t buy these cars is that they offer very little value, in the largest sense of the word. Contrary to what you might think, as a group, people aren’t stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        A Leaf will take you on a 80 mile round trip. Sure that is at the max of it’s range but there is an ever growing infrastructure of fast chargers so stop at one take a bathroom break and it 5-10 minutes you’ve added enough range to be able to complete that trip w/o range anxiety.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          Take a bathroom break on a 40 mile trip? Man, you need to see your doctor . . . quick! ;-()

          Seriously, a car is about either fun or utility. EVs, with the exception of the Tesla, are not fun. So, the other criterion is their utility. And, on that, they score pretty low. If I had a 10-30 mile commute to work each day, a Leaf might make sense for that single purpose. But my commute is much shorter.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            A 10 mile commute would make no sense in a Leaf, you need a 30mi each way to make it pay off.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          At this point, EVs are not for inter-city travel. Which is perfectly OK for a second car (yes, I’d consider one, for a decent price) or people who never go very far by car (because they can afford to fly whenever necessary).

          The charge network is not really dense or mature enough to do a long-distance trip in a Leaf and 80 miles of range is going to be more like 30 minutes than 5-10. Even a single day trip along the Supercharger network requires extra planning, caution and long waits in fast-food joints I’d pay to avoid.

          The nearest public charger that’s not actually in this city is just about 75 miles away. Reaching it would be kind of a crapshoot in a Leaf. Even with the top Tesla, the 300 mile range and relatively slow refuel time would make for a much slower trip to Chicago and, under poor weather conditions, it could end up being a real nail-biter.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            How dense the charge network is depends on where you live. Here in the PNW you can drive from the Canadian border to the CA/OR border in your Leaf if you so desire. Yes it will be 1hr of driving and 1/2 hr of driving but it can be done. I have a friend who’s only car is a Leaf and he has done numerous road trips with it. Seattle to Portland a couple of times and many other trips longer than the Leaf’s range thanks to the large network of mostly free fast chargers in the area. The electricity for those chargers is paid for by the business that is hosting it in some cases, in others it is payed for by SEVA.

            I didn’t say that he could get a full charge in 5-10 minutes. I said that if he had to make a 80 mile trip 5-10 min at a fast charger would add enough charge to eliminate range anxiety.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “This would be a killer city car.”

      Most city dwellers I know do street parking or use a multi-level parking garage. I have to think that can make charging a problem.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        I live in the city, but in a “suburban” setting (detached houses on small lots). But, your point is correct. I should have said “suburban car” so long as your suburb isn’t too far distant.

    • 0 avatar
      hf_auto

      I think the reason calculators are involved is pretty simple- few people have a strong emotional pull towards most of the EVs out there. Maybe a Model S or a Karma (not so much now), but the more reasonable EVs/Plug-ins are pretty lame.
      If it’s a financial decision (as it was for me when I leased my Volt), you start to look at numbers. Gallons-to-gallons comparisons are easy, no calculators needed. Gallons-to-Killowatt hour comparisons take a litttle bit more calculation.
      I also tended to be a little more thorough with my calculations since the initial cost of the car is much higher and the fueling/operating cost is much lower. This was more of a wholistic ROI calculation over a time period.
      More than any other car, I found that the business case for buying an EV is phenomenally dependent on the details of your personal situation and the line between financial viability and stupidity is very fine.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I agree that the line between fiscal win and fiscal volley is pretty thin with the current crop of EVs.

        But these things do have an emotional pull for some people. I’m a geeky technology guy, and I’m bored with regular old gas cars. I also think far enough ahead that I’m concerned about big picture issues like the environment and climate change, and I like to experiment with my daily habits to see if I can do things better. An EV ties in to all of this, and I also really enjoyed the super-smooth experience of driving the EVs I’ve test driven so far.

        Every time I manage to find a way to create a rough shift (or a little bit of backlash) in my minivan’s 4-speed automatic, I wonder why I’m not driving an EV. Our Prius is better, but the Leaf’s direct drive doesn’t do any of that!

        Anyway, just wanted you to know that we exist. I just haven’t pulled the trigger on that Leaf yet, for all of the same reasons that most people put off spending $30k when their used car ain’t broke…!

    • 0 avatar
      Scott_314

      +10 billion

  • avatar
    Highway27

    I’m seriously considering a Leaf for my next vehicle to replace my ’98 Civic with 96,000 miles. I will not be considering a Spark EV, as it still looks like a hideous clown car.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I love my ’12 Leaf SL,which replaced an excellent 05 xB1. I’d be cautious about the de-featured ’13 Leaf S – they don’t even give you cruise control with it. Happy shopping.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        I lived without cruise control longer than I have lived with cruise control, so it has not yet made my list of mandatory equipment.

      • 0 avatar
        Tifighter

        Not to mention the S doesn’t get the 6.6 kW charger.

        • 0 avatar
          gslippy

          You raise a good point, however I just learned from a PlugShare review of a particular public charger that it was incompatible with the Leaf’s new 6.6 kW charger. Something about needing a firmware update in the charging station.

          But since most Leafs are charged at home, this may not matter.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Can someone (who actually knows) tell me how much charge an EV loses by sitting? As in, If you were to drive exactly 1/2 of a full charge and need to get back without plugging in, how long would you be able to leave the car parked before you couldn’t make it back?

    • 0 avatar
      hf_auto

      For what it’s worth, I just left my Volt parked at the airport (Seatac, mild temperatures) for a week and a half. I was curious about the exact same question- When I came back, my range hadn’t budged.
      On the weekends, I often leave the car unplugged overnight with no noticeable change in charge level.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      My Leaf loses no range even when parked outside in the cold while I’m in the office all day. Same thing if I don’t charge it overnight at home.

      The NYT report of a Model S losing range overnight is the only question I have about that otherwise awesome car. I have trouble believing it, but I think it should be addressed by Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Does the Leaf or Volt offer a solar panel option on the roof or rear deck that would allow for moderate recharging whilst you’re away from the car? If so, how much does this add to the range of the car?

        • 0 avatar
          Scott_314

          No. All cars are so heavy and fat that they need serious energy to move. A 10-watt charger wouldn’t give you 1% after a full day in the sun.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yes the Leaf does have a solar panel. No it won’t charge the battery but it will run accessories and reduce the demand on the battery.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          You severely overestimate “green” sources such as solar panels

          • 0 avatar
            Beerboy12

            Why?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Because they’re a net loser.

            In the power business we’re federally required to do a certain amount of alternative energy.

            We have a couple fields of solar panels, and they NEVER recuperate the costs of the solar panels, installation, land use, etc (They don’t last forever!)

            This ends up getting passed onto the consumer raising your rates.
            And of course with the push to end coal as an energy source, your rates are set to go up even further.
            At the end of the day, all said and done, your creating more pollution with solar panels being produced and creating a negative net energy. Now, you can say screw the environment even more and produce them cheaper, but you’ve just destroyed the whole point of making them. (As if it were a strong argument to begin with)

          • 0 avatar
            gslippy

            I’ve read that the Leaf’s solar panel only produces about 5 Watts, but I guess it keeps the 12 V accessory battery happy in daylight.

            Its contribution to energy savings in the car is minimal.

          • 0 avatar
            Beerboy12

            Thank you for taking the time to answer. A solar panel on a car is not federally required, does not take up needed space, due to being small is probably not heavy enough to matter and will most likely last the lifetime of the car. It is also possible that it’s presence is taking some strain off the battery and therefore adding value as it increases the expensive battery’s life. Your argument that it is a nett loss does apply to this unique application.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Beerboy, the solar panel does nothing to help the life of the traction battery as it can not put out enough energy to even warm the traction battery. It is a nominal 12v solar panel meant to take the drain off of the “house” battery that powers the standard 12v electrical accessories.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    A lease for $200 might be the first car that makes sense to lease. You know the batteries will have to be replaced eventually, at a large cost. If that’s a 10k/mile a year deal, it’s hard to imagine racking that much on an electric car.

    Mainly I consider leasing for image seekers trying to get into more car then they can actually afford. But on a cheap electric car, at that price, this time it makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      EVs are also going to be a technology treadmill for a while, so you might actually get some practical benefits by driving a new one.

      On the other hand, the cheap lease means that the car company is betting the EV won’t depreciate much.

      I’m normally anti-lease (and pro-used-car), but these terms are pretty attractive. I might take the car company up on that bet.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    So is the battery thermal management system liquid or air? I know the electric drive motor was engineered for the car by GM, unlike the off the shelf units used in the Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      Tifighter

      Liquid. An advantage in warm climates vs the Leaf, and should extend the long term battery life.

      Downside appears to be no 6.6 kW charging, compared to the Leaf or Focus Electric.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    EV’s are hardly a panacea. Many years ago I remember some car mag saying that EV’s are not zero emission, they are remote emission vehicles. True dat.

    I hope this link works for everyone. If this info graphic is accurate, the little box at the bottom comparing EV’s on a “dirty grid” being hardly better than a fossil fuel on board vehicle reenforces my perception that EV’s just are no where near perfect”green” solutions. Add the limited range? Spare me.

    http://www.scoop.it/t/developpement-durable-et-efficacite-energetique/p/2814846032/the-impact-of-the-electric-car-infographic

    That said, a guy I know has a Volt and charges it with his homegrown hydroelectric system’s power. In his extremely exceptional case, that is one fairly green set up. Even so, I would love to know what the carbon footprint of the in-the-ground resources to finished delivered product process is. If the carbon foot print of this process is larger than the operational life of even a conventional gas vehicle, I would not be surprised.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Right, but as more power is generated with non-dirty sources of energy, EV’s become cleaner. And I think that move is inevitable at this point.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Also, its becoming increasingly more affordable and in the ability of self-installation to provide wind or solar power to boost yourself off the grid if that’s your thing. For example, you can purchase three small windmills that attach fairly easily and unobtrusively upon a garage or shed or back of the house that can provide enough energy to run a household. Not sure how well it works say, during the dog days of summer with full A/C blasting, but can say a good third of the energy in the mid-west now is being driven by wind. And that’s not a bad thing.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Our wise city fathers enacted zoning rules that pretty much made windmills for the home impossible.

          The bastards.

          My home is sited pretty poorly for solar, so I’m mostly out of luck for making my own juice.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    I’ll consider an EV when they don’t either cost 80 grand, or look like something a circus clown should drive.

  • avatar
    redav

    What about the smart car EV that was supposed to retail for ~$22k?

    Sure, it doesn’t really count as a full car, but IIRC, after fed & state rebates, you could pick one up in CO for just over $10k, and if I was there, I’d buy one.

  • avatar
    CapVandal

    I doubt if I am close to unique here, but I own 3 vehicles. DD+SUV+Sports.

    For multiple car owners, range simply isn’t an issue. Gotta drive more than a few miles, take one of the ICE vehicles.

    It seems like there is a convergence between the small EV’s and the NEV’s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neighborhood_Electric_Vehicle.

    There have to be some economies of scale if EV’s become more popular.

    The spark might look like a clown car compared to a cam/cord, but it’s an ultra high performance NEV.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I will be watching this car and any prospective lease deals with anticipation. Currently, the $199/month Nissan Leaf lease means the car will just about break even in terms of ownership costs with my BMW if I was to add the Leaf to my auto fleet and drive it the maximum mileage per year. The spark leasing for $199/month with a smaller down payment means I could lease it, drive it to its maximum annual mileage, and then come out ahead financially than if I’d driven the BMW over that mileage.


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