By on August 18, 2014

2014-Chevrolet-Spark-EV-Drivetrain-550x366

Last month, TTAC broke the news that GM was working on an American-made EV based on the Chevrolet Sonic, and that such a car would be a “compliance car”, used to meet certain regulatory mandates. Now, we have more information on the Sonic EV, including an idea of just how low-volume it will be.

John Voelcker of Green Car Reports (and one of the leading authorities on EV technology) is reporting that the Sonic EV will have a total production run of just 1,800 units. This is a shockingly small number, even for limited-run EVs, but the nature of the Sonic EV isn’t intended to be a successor to the Volt, or an extension of this strategy.

Instead, the Sonic EV is a play for regulatory credits by GM, which has calculated that the expense of doing a limited run EV built in the United States is worth it, since the credits they will ostensibly earn can allow them to offset other, more profligate vehicles in their lineup, like full-size pickup trucks and SUVs.

Currently, GM offers the Spark EV as well, but that model is built in South Korea, with American-made battery components. With a range of just 82 miles, the Spark will lag the Sonic’s rumored 200-mile range, though the $30,000 will be a fair bit pricier.

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106 Comments on “Chevrolet’s Sonic EV Will Be An Ultra-Low Volume Compliance Car...”


  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Hatred that GM is doing this while ignoring the RAV4 EV that was born out of the same logic in 3, 2, 1…

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Oh, hey, did I miss the Two Minutes Hate?

      If “of the same logic” is intended to refer to “allow them to offset other, more profligate vehicles in their lineup,” then there’s certainly a difference worth considering… Toyota doesn’t have the same mix of “profligate” vehicles to offset.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Sure they do…they sell huge pickup trucks and sumo-sized SUVs, just like GM does. They just don’t sell as MANY of them.

        And +100 on the “two minutes hate” line…LOL

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Here’s a good example of a car you’ll find on ebay in 20 years, partially disassembled. The ad will read RARE SONIC EV, 1004 OF 1800 PRODUCED. Then under that will be an explanation that it ran until recently, and there are lots of spares in the back seat.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I do thin it is stupid but if they are playing within the lines and they can make a business for this than fine, I assume all will be in Calf

    • 0 avatar
      celebrity208

      The only penalty may be brand/corp. image. This seems to be something GM seems predisposed to forget/ignore repeatedly. It could end up being another EV-1 Catch-22.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Assuming anyone cares; see APaGttH’s comment.

        Nobody cares that the Rav-4 EV is also a compliance car.

        And at this point not even the EV zealots care about that kind of thing – especially since they alone might just buy all of them, win/win.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    This isn’t GM’s fault. It’s the fault of every idiot that votes for people that think they’re smarter than markets. Cars like this are a tax on people that buy affordable cars that actually suit their needs. They’re subsidized by higher costs for everyone but the leech that takes the EV. I recently told a statist couple that they were reprehensible for taking heavily subsidized solar panels to power their desert home and refuel their heavily subsidized Chevy Volt. They are a professional and a union state employee with cradle to grave benefits that promise a standard of living double that of the people paying for it. If being green means they don’t have to pay their way, then who exactly does? They have a household income around four times the median. Hopefully, that means no food stamps. WTF does it mean energy stamps and car stamps?

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      +1

      60% of the population receives more federal benefits than they pay in. That number is on its way to 70%. It’s game over for the producers.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        But Mitt said only 47% are takers. Has it gone up that fast?

        Or are these bogus numbers created to fit a certain political agenda?

        Hmmmmm.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Damn those schoolchildren, elderly and housewives for forcing us to buy electric cars!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Exactly.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Lol, I suppose that the number of “takers” includes those parasites on Social Security… I know, if we issue a GM produced EV to everyone on SS and we jumble the numbers…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Shhhhhh, if the old folks get the idea of free Volts in their head they’ll start demanding Medicare Part EV.

        • 0 avatar
          Master Baiter

          You’re right. More people are working now than ever. Food stamp use is down. We’d all be driving electric cars if it weren’t for Big Oil, Dick Cheney and Halliburton.

          • 0 avatar
            jdogma

            A smaller percentage of the population is working than at any time in history. Food stamp use is at an historical high. I guess you are joking. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/15/food-stamps-under-employment/14108657/ from a liberal source btw

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @jodgma:

            And could part of the reason for the low number of people still in the workforce be that the number of retirees is at an all time high?

          • 0 avatar
            RedStapler

            I thought it was the Stonecutters who hold back the Electric Car.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          The 47% are people who will vote for the other party no matter what because they feel entitled/dependent/victimized–not that they actually receive more than they pay.

          The last numbers I remember are that around 40%-45% of American households owe no federal income tax, but that’s a far cry from “receive more than they put in,” since there are many more taxes we pay than just federal income tax.

        • 0 avatar
          jdogma

          The number of unemployed is up. The number of people no longer in the workplace is up. Illegals are being ushered in by the tens of thousands. Almost all in these groups are on the dole. The numbers are most likely real and the reason is a political agenda.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          Vogo, Mitt Romney was responding to a question about campaign strategy at a fundraiser. He was explaining that 47% of Americans don’t pay income tax, therefore proposals to lower income tax rates were not likely to help him win. He then went on to shoot himself in the foot with comments about government dependence and voting patterns.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @MasterBaiter:
        These statistics need some fleshing out.

        The easiest way to “take in more than you pay out” in tax dollars is simple: retirement. Between Social Security payouts and Medicare coverage, it’s a pretty safe bet that most senior citizens are “taking” WAY more than they pay in. How many citizens fit this bill? Tens of millions.

        But there are other ways too…and none of them fit the usual “sucking at the big bad gummint teat” image. For example, millions of college kids receive thousands of dollars in Pell money but don’t have nearly enough taxable income (if any) to offset the payouts. There are also tens of millions of disabled veterans, military and government retirees, and folks on social security.

        Safe bet that the government isn’t making a “tax profit” on any of these people, but are they really “on the dole”? Given that most of them lived long, productive careers, and contributed to society’s bottom line in many ways (or will, in the case of students), not really.

      • 0 avatar
        Krivka

        NASCAR got 43 million last year, the Energy sector about 2 billion, Disney 150 million, Goldman Sachs got 1.6 BILLION subsidy to help finance a new HQ. The list of money going to so called capitalists is not quite what I call the right thing to do in a free market. Tax breaks for off shore earnings and to the Agricultual sector is also something to think about.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      “I recently told a statist couple that they were reprehensible..”

      In what setting? Kids’ piano recital? Next table at the restaurant?

    • 0 avatar

      Your logic is compelling. But you have to factor in the subsidy of the externalities of conventional power sources and automobiles. It’s possible that the costs avoided of extra lung and heart disease, and greenhouse emissions outweigh the cost of the subsidy to the solar collectors and the Volt. I’m not saying you’re wrong. I haven’t done the math.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        You must be popular going upto people and telling them in blunt language that they are “reprehensible” and we wonder why you are not married!

        They are paying tax, one was private sector, so automatically good!

        It is an interesting fact that the majority of the states that are net takers of Federal money are solid republican states like Mississippi, whilst the majority of those that are net givers to the Federal treasury are Democratic states like Massachusetts and Connecticut. Maybe we need to call those states worthless and other names?

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Bravo, Mike,
          Those same blue states that subsidize the red states (and have to listen to their constant whining about ‘takers’) also are the top states for education.

          Correlation, maybe?

        • 0 avatar
          jdogma

          What do you think the odds are that most takers in places like Mississippi are republicans? It is an interesting fact that Mississippi has the highest % of blacks of any state. How many of them are republicans?

        • 0 avatar
          jetcal1

          You know Mike, as an independent, I have asked for some “blue pays red” data, like what kind of spending. If it’s for social services, that’s one thing. But when you consider a lot of heavy spending is located in the southern shipyards. At $456,000,000 a pop for the LCS that is certainly going to slew the numbers a touch. Even the aircraft carrier at $18,000,000,000 is going to affect the numbers. (Even though that only represents 37 hours of Federal spending.)
          Although VA.is now blue. Should we shift that?

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Fair point about defense spending and some of the big projects. Although from what you say it sounds like they are disproportionately built in the south even though the rest of the country have ports. So they would still be subsidized.

            It would be good for more data, but it is not unlike the tin hat contingent to latch onto one “fact” and extrapolate.

          • 0 avatar
            jetcal1

            Mike,
            We pretty much killed non DoD shipyards about 30-40 years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Jetcal:

            Defense spending probably does impact that, but of the top ten states for defense spending, four are solidly blue, four are solidly red, and the tenth, Virginia, is pretty purple these days.

            Good old liberal California is number two.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Just think of all those credits earned by Honda and Mazda by only offering 3-4 passenger cars a couple of CUVs!

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Honda figured out how to build the best midsize sedan on the market, and it gets 45 MPG. They don’t need no stinking credits.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Or they are building hydrogen compliance cars instead.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Also: Fit EV. And natural gas Civic. Like any smart automaker, Honda is hedging their bets. No one know the future with perfect clarity.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Fit EV is dead. They are expected to lease the last of the 1100 total by October. As of June, Honda had leased under 900 over its couple year run.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yeah the built the Fit EV in an exact number just for fun and lease them at way under cost to move them just for fun, it is not a compliance car.

          The actually dropped the lease price to get them moving and that lease price includes insurance and what little maintenance they will need. Of course they are going to do just like GM did with the EV1 and S10 and what Ford and Toyota intended to do with the original RAV4 EV and Ranger EV and crush them when the least is up.

    • 0 avatar
      Splorg McGillicuddy

      Your comment went straight into the loonie bin right at “statist couple.” What butthurt bunk.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Today’s lesson? In CJ’s world, it’s wrong to take every tax deduction you can take…as long as you’re a bad old statist liberal.

      You must be great fun at parties, dude…

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    200 mile range?

    Maybe if you dropped it out of the Space Shuttle while in orbit.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      I’m just a dumb Ex Navy enlisted man, but I’m pretty sure it would continue in orbit for a lot longer than 200 miles before it melted on re-entry. Many orders of magnitude error.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Sonic EV is a car built for the EPA and not consumers.
    The EPA is where profits are.
    America Century 21.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    What really annoys me is that they put these credits and incentives in place to push the manufacturers to offer these cars to consumers. I understand the underlying dislike of government funds for this type of thing, but regardless if you support it or not, at least you should be able to reap the fruit of such programs.

    But here we have the companies taking advantage of the incentives and the consumer doesn’t even get to buy the product. 1800 is nothing, 1000 of them will go to politicians or connected insiders at GM, of the remaining units, as it was said before probably only for California and even then only LA I am sure.

    The rules for the credits should insist on the product being available everywhere to all who choose to afford them.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      Right. GM should be mandated to build 10s of millions of money-losing cars.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        they should either be built for the general public, or not built at all. All these loopholes, and CAFE in general, is just a bunch of stupidity.

        • 0 avatar
          Brian P

          There is no other way for the EPA and CARB to ram this down people’s throats.

          There is little market for cars like this.

          The next step will be mandatory minimum market share of cars like this. The only way that will happen is that if you buy a Camaro or an Escalade or some such high-end “gas guzzler”, you will be forced to take delivery of a piece-of-junk EV like this along with it. The piece-of-junk EV will have no resale value (due to overwhelming mandatory production volume with no market for them) but everyone will be happy except the consumer.

          • 0 avatar
            seth1065

            Nah city fleets will buy them up the new metro meter maid car and such

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Let me get this straight:

            When part of the government incents automakers to develop new technology to secure energy independence, this is a liberal, evil waste of taxpayer money.

            But when another part of the government spends 100X that amount on R&D to create new ways to kill people, that is military spend which is good?

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            “When part of the government incents automakers to develop new technology to secure energy independence, this is a liberal, evil waste of taxpayer money.

            But when another part of the government spends 100X that amount on R&D to create new ways to kill people, that is military spend which is good?”

            Someone can – indeed many people do – think both are bad.

            I’m not aware of mnm4ever speaking out in favor of military spending, either, so it seems an odd non-sequitur to bring it up.

            But more importantly, *yes*.

            1) Incentives like that distort the market and thus hide or cover *people’s real preferences and desires*, which would otherwise be shown by *price and demand signals*.

            “Supply and demand” only shows us what people want vs. available resources [the *entire function of economics and markets*] if we don’t try to fake up “preferred’ results; if we do that the noise makes it impossible to fulfill those desires as shown, because the signal the market gets is one with an artificial, un-desired-by-the-purchasers weight distorting it.

            2) For limited-government Constitutional types, note that there is no enumerated power of “making the markets pick the outcome that somebody would prefer” or “saving gas whether you like it or not”.

            While there is one – fundamental to the very existence of a State, in fact – of armed defense.

            Note also that a whole lot of military R+D is about ways to keep soldiers alive and to kill *just the enemy* rather than civilians.

            Unless you want to stamp your foot and Outlaw War with a *fiat*, you’re going to have to deal with it existing [and even if you try the former, it won’t work] – and if it exists, well, it’d be nice to have smart bombs and planes that are hard to shoot down, rather than having to resort to saturation bombing ala WW2, especially for the civilians *on the other side*.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Sigvald,
            Let’s review your assertion of armed defense as a function of every state. Which scenario makes more sense to you?

            1. The US continues to guzzle gas, at rates roughly double that of other developed nations (Europe, Japan), and to ensure its continued economic viability invests heavily in defense spending, especially around the Gulf. This creates a situation where radicals from that region react negatively to that presence, forcing us into continual wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which take literally decades and trillions of dollars (not to mention lives) to end.

            2. The US cuts its oil consumption in half by conserving energy and investing in alternatives to fossil fuel. Defense spending remains stable and a decreasing percentage of GDP, war spending is avoided, soldiers don’t die.

            Which form of defense spending is preferable to you?

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          All “loophole” means is “a law the speaker doesn’t like”, is the problem.

          Even if it’s very much intentional and being used by the market exactly as was intended, in fact.

          (Now, CAFE being stupid?

          Yes. A thousand times, yes.)

          • 0 avatar
            jetcal1

            Vogo, as a taxpayer, I want a sufficient level of defense spending that we can find new and efficient ways kill as many people as needed without putting us or our allies at risk. Everything else is BS. Because that is what eliminates war. And please read the history of the area from about 1100 AD to 1919 with heavy emphasis on the Ottoman Empire. I apologize if this came off sounding rude. I tend to be a bit direct when I am on the phone.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        “GM should be mandated to build 10s of millions of money-losing cars.”

        I’m not sure there’s need for a mandate for that. GM spent quite a few years doing that all on their own initiative.

      • 0 avatar
        Splorg McGillicuddy

        When you only build 1800 of any car, you’re doing to lose money. “Hello, I’d like to run a business and completely ignore the economies of scale that would help me make a profit.”

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Isn’t California the whole reason for this boondoggle, it would make more sense to just tell California the number of jobs that will be lost when GM closes down their dealerships in that market.
      Maybe they can blackmail the idiots to revise the laws.

      Honestly there has to be car companies doing math on finding which is cheaper, complying, or closing the doors.

    • 0 avatar
      j_slez

      The 1800 number tells me that they’re planning to build them for just a couple of years for just the California market, to meet the current CARB mandates. Starting in 2018, they’d have to sell it in 8 states, including NY and most of New England, but they can avoid that by dropping the EV and selling a hydrogen vehicle, which they would only need to sell in CA and not the other 7 states.

      Full disclosure: I have a Spark EV. Fun car. The instant torque is addicting. Real-world range is about 90 miles, and it’s suitable for at least 90% of my driving. The gas car now hardly gets driven. When the lease is up in 2 years, the Sonic will be at the top of the list. With a bit more room and longer range, it will cover 98% of my needs. And with solar panels locking in the cost of “fuel,” which I can produce myself at home, I’m looking at 3 cents per mile, with essentially zero maintenance.

      I’m a bit surprised by the 200 mile range, but it does get them into a new category of credits – 5 instead of 3 per car sold, so they won’t have to sell as many. Borrowed from a poster on the Chevy Spark EV forum:

      Type V – 300+ miles range “hydrogen” – Credit per vehicle: 9 (2015-2017 only)
      Type V – 300+ miles range “fast refueling” – Credit per vehicle: 7
      Type IV – 200+ miles range “fast refueling” – Credit per vehicle: 5
      Type III – 100+ miles range “fast refueling” – Credit per vehicle: 4
      Type III – 200+ miles range ————– Credit per vehicle: 4
      Type II – 100+ miles range ————— Credit per vehicle: 3
      Type I.5 – 75-100 miles range ———– Credit per vehicle: 2.5
      Type I – 50-75 miles range ————— Credit per vehicle: 2

      After 2017, the credits for Type III, IV and V drop to 3

      *********

      All the battery compliance cars, like the GM Spark EV, are 3 credits each. The Tesla Model S did get 7 credits, and now gets 4 (I think).

      Hydrogen will generally always get 9, as I’m absolutely confident that the 9 credits will be extended for many years while cost effective hydrogen is “just around the corner”.

      And that singular best reason for hydrogen? They get to sell the cars only in California, and nowhere else.

  • avatar

    2015 Chevrolet Sonic EV: The Official Car of Compliance in the Age of Hope, Change and the New GM. Sponsored by the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE: The Official Car of Corporate Beancounting in the Age of Fear, Loathing and the Old GM.

  • avatar

    Why do they need another compliance EV? They have the Spark EV for compliance to state mandates.

    This makes no sense to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Sky_Render

      CAFE standards are based on wheelbase. The Sonic is a larger car…

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….CAFE standards are based on wheelbase. The Sonic is a larger car…..

        Which is what is stupid about CAFE. Foot print factors was a huge bone thrown to the Big 3 for protecting the huge profits on pickups. These compliance cars are a byproduct of this stupid line of thinking. Mileage standards should simply be based on just that – mileage – and nothing else. One category for cars and SUVs – you know, vehicles for ferrying human cargo, and one for pickups. No other differences.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Big pickups need to be thrown a “footprint” bone. You make them tiny and industry/utilities/business/self-employed/etc are then less productive and burning way more fuel with more trips to accomplish the same tasks. Also, pickups get used commercially then double as family trucksters. And big pickups may be be the only vehicle, wearing multiple hats, for large families with a farm/mom-pop/etc.

          But families with 3+ kids can’t really be forced into subcompacts. What then?

          Europe’s CAFE equivalent throws a bone to heavier vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            That is exactly what the footprint basis for CAFE is all about the larger the footprint the lower the required fuel economy. It is a big reason that the compact pickup went away, they don’t get enough higher MPG to justify their smaller footprint.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @scoutdude

            Does this footprint only apply to “trucks” to your knowledge?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @28-Cars, Scoutdude – The “footprint” rule applies to cars just the same. But it’s not the same. If the Chevy S10 was alive today, it would’ve had to get about 27 mpg hwy (EPA sticker, not CAFE). Possible, but cutting it close.

            Still, the current Honda Fit, with roughly the same footprint as the old Chevy S10 (about 41 sqft), needs about 31 mpg hwy for 2014. It get 37 mpg hwy. Definitely more lenient on small pickups than small cars.

            Except compact pickups died out and grew to larger proportions about a decade before CAFE laid out the future mpg requirements for light vehicles.

            So today’s midsizers like the Tacoma (at about 46 to 62 sqft footprint) are crossing into or overlapping fullsize footprint. The F-150 is at about 58 to 75 sqft of footprint, but now that the reg cab midsizers are going away, they’ll start at around 56 sqft for the extra cabs.

            While fullsize pickups may only be required 25 mpg hwy by 2025, midsizers may only be required a few mpg above that. Or about 28 mpg hwy. Both should be easily accomplished with gas engines.

            The 75 sqft F-150 is the not_so_common “Super cab, long bed” (8 ft bed). The crew cab and 6.5 ft bed are 73 sqft and the most common F-150s are 67 sqft.

            en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_Average_Fuel_Economy

    • 0 avatar

      “The Sonic EV will also be built in Michigan, which will allow GM to gain regulatory credits for selling a pure EV that is also made in America. The Chevrolet Spark EV, which is built in Korea, is not eligible, and has a range of just 82 miles.”

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/exclusive-general-motors-working-on-sonic-ev-with-200-mile-range/

      • 0 avatar

        OK so what changed?

        In 2011 the Nissan leaf was made in Japan and had a range of 73 EPA miles. It qualified and still does.

        The spark could go 200 miles with the same power train.

        KIA soul EV qualifies.

        Still missing something here.

        • 0 avatar
          Splorg McGillicuddy

          JPWhite, in early 2013 production of the Leaf moved to Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, so it’s domestically produced now. Not sure if that’s a factor.

          • 0 avatar

            Thanks, I’m aware of that, I live 30 miles from the plant.

            I’m trying to figure out why where a car is made is a factor, and if so when was that introduced. It didn’t used to be that way. I’m pretty sure the Kia Soul EV isn’t domestically produced. Hence I’m not convinced country of origin means anything to the ZEV Credit program.

        • 0 avatar
          j_slez

          CARB requires credits for clean-air vehicles. If GM can get more credits/car for building it here, then they don’t need to sell as many of them. Since their clear aim is to sell the minimum, it makes sense to switch to the Sonic. They currently get 3 credits/car for the Spark. A 200-mile, US-built Sonic would get 5, maybe even 6 credits. Sure, they’ll lose more per car, but not have to sell as many.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          JPWhite, The federal government keeps two sets of books, domestic and imported, for CAFE averages. It’s why GM built the Cavalier, Cobalt, and Cruze in the US instead of just importing small cars.

    • 0 avatar
      ydnas7

      Spark EV will probably go all 49 states.

      200mile EV is a statement about how GM feels about Hydrogen. Its also likely to be far more cost effective for GM to make a 200mile EV than a 200mile HFCV. This is GMs fighter vs ToyoHondHyun Hydrogen. Price wise it must be less than a Tesla Gen 3. Range wise it should be more than a Nissan/Infiniti LEAF gen 2 (150mile EPA).

      GM is about full range PHEVs (EREV in GM talk). Nissan probably makes a profit on their EVs but prices them so that others can’t make a profit at the same price.

      Its quite likely that this is LG’s version of a Li/Mn rich Li ion chemistry (just like ENVIA was). As such its probably not mature enough for wide use, but too important to ignore.

      Lutz vision was that between 200+mile EVs with rapid charging and 40+mile EREVs there is no room for Hydrogen.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    This is pathetic, typical, and GM. Nissan leaf gen 2 is gonna blow it away and be made in earnest. EV cars are almost here. Once the rydan battery takes off its game over for ice and that’s probably within just a couple of years. Who is gonna buy a gm ev when they pull this kind of crap?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Are you going to say the same thing about Toyota and Honda? It isn’t like the Rav4 EV or Fit EV are anything but low volume compliance cars. The Fit EV was limited to less units than the Sonic EV, while the Rav4 EV isn’t limited to many more.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      This thing isn’t trying to compete with the Leaf.

      And I’ll believe “within just a couple of years” when it happens, because EVs have been the next big thing *almost as long as I’ve been driving*.

      And that’s about 25 years now – when we’ve barely managed to make two or three of them that are worth considering, maybe, at a high price.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Numbers please; or what exactly is the teeny-tiny electric car to big-a$$ trucks ratio?

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Well, he’s saying 1,800 Sonic EVs, total.

      I can’t find production numbers that are any good on the Spark EV, but it looks like, from adding up enthusiast reports of sales numbers, that they might have sold as many as a thousand of them by now, total.

      As of last year (first numbers I could find), GM was selling 60,000 full-size trucks a month.

      So, roughly the ratio is “tiny:big”.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Just like getting extra MPG credit for building flex fuel vehicles when those vehicles actually get WORSE fuel economy for running E85. That one chafes my hide.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          For what it’s worth, they don’t think that a gallon burned of E85 produces as much pollution/emissions as a gallon of gasoline.

          (I don’t necessarily believe that. Pollution from ethanol is different, but I’m not convinced it’s better, and CO2 emissions really should include well-to-wheels, so if energy expenditure to grow the corn is high enough, that won’t be better, either.)

          • 0 avatar

            The water required in corn farming is enormous, as well. And if you don’t get enough rain, you have to irrigate or lose your crops. The actual process to make corn ethanol, iirc, isn’t that efficient either.

            All the subsidies disappeared because the artificially low pricing couldn’t be kept, there was a huge glut of ethanol, so much so they were talking about going to 15-30% minimum blends in all gasoline to dispose of it and force everyone out of older and into new cars by ruining all engines in existence.

  • avatar
    jdash1972

    I’m not sure how it is today but parts of Europe used to have VAT on cars. If the engine was less than 2L it was 12%, if the engine was larger than 2L it was 30%. It penalized people driving large vehicles, you had to pay. Of course Ford would just build an F150 with a 1999cc engine with four turbochargers making 500HP…

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      This fact is what burns me. The physical size of the engine means nothing. It’s the performance that matters.

      Anyone who has been in a large business knows all about metrics, and they also know that measuring the wrong thing is worthless. If you measure the right thing, people may still game the system, but it will still be a better starting point.

      In other words, if they want to reduce fuel consumption, tax fuel consumption. If they want to reduce pollution, tax pollution. Or, they could tax vehicle weight (because that’s a primary driver of both). Sure, car companies will optimize their cars for the tests like happens in the US, but even that is better than putting 45+ psi boost into a 1L engine and thinking it’s ‘efficient’ because it’s small.

  • avatar

    $30,000 for 200 miles of range? That’s not bad. And the Sonic is actually a livable car in terms of interior volume (though not as much as, say, the Fit or Versa Note).

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    How sad. GM management is saying: “Let’s build an electric car, doesn’t have to be all that good, just good enough that 1800 EV faithful will take off our hands. As long as it’s green the zealots will overlook a multitude of sins. The boys in accounting have it figured that we need to unload precisely 1793.5 of these things to make our CAFE numbers, so we rounded it up to 1800.” This gets justified by assuming they’ll be money losers, which is a self-fulfilling prophecy when you determine in advance to build a ridiculously small number. Heaven forbid they should set out to build the best EV that normal people could afford and try to be leaders and not followers.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      It seems EVERYONE is scared to take the Leaf on head to head. I keep waiting for the smoke to clear or the mirrors to shatter. Every passing day makes it more clear that Nisan is winning this segment legitimately, no smoke, no mirrors.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        O5lgt, I doubt there is much EV market to take from Nissan. The problem is battery cost exceeds battery benefit unless you live in congested parts of California where EVs get solo access to HOV lanes. The US government could cut the EV tax credit in half and people in urban California would still come up with the money to buy access to the HOV lane. Here in Dallas, Texas we’re starting to sell access to the HOV lane directly independent of whatever car you choose to drive. http://www.lbjtexpress.com/

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          “The problem is battery cost exceeds battery benefit”

          I disagree. The problem is batteries cost a lot *right now*, but they pay for themselves over their lifetime due to reduced fuel costs.

          For example, let’s say a Leaf is $5k more (due to batteries) than a comparably equipped ICE compact car that averages 30 mpg. At $3.50/gal, fueling that car costs $17,500 for 150k mi. Assuming the Leaf gets ~2.65 mi/kWh & electricity costs $0.12/kWh, its fuel cost for that 150k mi is under $6800. That’s a net benefit of over $10k for the Leaf.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          I don’t live in CA, but I see Leafs all over where I live. They don’t benefit much from HOV access if at all. They do get to use the charger parking. I’m pretty sure it’s cost benefit on the prepaid fuel, especially as a hedge against rising gasoline prices.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    It’s pretty pathetic that manufacturers are essentially forced to mash together a car that few will want or buy to meet the requirements of the ever-so-overreaching Federal government and one of its crown jewels, the EPA.

    Government doesn’t realize that the market will dictate the outcome, as with other things. We don’t need the EPA to force car manufacturers to build cars to get specific mileage because of the current fuel prices. People will (and are) naturally gravitating towards the fuel efficient models and manufacturers would still scramble just as quickly–without the mandates, no less–to satisfy the demand.

    So, are fuel efficiency mandates necessary? I don’t see why they would be. It just creates more headaches and cost for everyone involved.

    Truth be told, the EPA in its entirety isn’t necessary, either, among many other agencies.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      So you would be all for letting the market dictate the outcome if I set up an asbestos removal facility next door to your house and made a huge amount of money by scraping asbestos off other materials and scattering it into the wind, sometimes just tossing it over the fence, right? We don’t need any regulations, just wait for my customers to stop paying me to kill you and your family. All good, right?

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      PentastarPride, I’m more concerned that CAFE is transitioning from nudging manufacturers to build more efficient but also more expensive cars where fuel savings eventually pay for extra complexity to diminishing returns where added complexity and cost don’t save enough at the pump to make sense. Transitioning from 6 cylinders and 4 speed automatics to 4 cylinders and 6 speed automatics, both with sub-8 second 0-60mph, while using significantly less fuel is an acceptably good outcome. CAFE nudging manufacturers to go further with 8 and 9 speed transmissions, CVTs, electric power steering, turbochargers, direct injection, hybrid drivetrains, etc. may be pushing complexity into the market faster than the market can absorb it. Throw too many government mandates and weird incentives at manufacturers and we get stuck with another malaise era of unreliable cars that suck.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        George,
        Would you rather pay the costs of the EPA encouraging more efficient use of imported fossil fuels, or pay for continued wars in the middle east to keep the tap flowing?

        • 0 avatar

          Good point VoGo. But it goes further.

          In addition to the national security concerns, greater vehicle efficiency is important to keep the economy going. Our economy depends upon cheap energy to be vibrant. As we see transportation fuel rise in price there is a need to be more efficient in order to maintain the same economic activity level.

          The problem with the CARB rules is they are easily gamed by the manufacturers and are pretty much ineffective in achieving the goals of the program. CARB need to fix those shortcomings to help prop up our economy.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Cost/benefit & diminishing returns is an excellent point. But it goes well beyond just money. There’s health, pollution (e.g., smog), domestic security, etc.

        Even if we had cars that ran on unicorn farts using zero fossil fuel and produced zero emissions, we would still have pollution & the subsequent health problems, we’d still have issues with energy independence, trade deficit, etc. At some point driving the effects of cars to zero while incurring accelerating costs doesn’t solve the problems it’s supposed to nearly enough to be justified.

        IIRC, most of the US’ energy consumption goes to power buildings. The EPA should have a more holistic approach that includes *all* factors and their interplay instead of merely setting a target for cars that’s independent of all other sources of pollution & energy use.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          Fair point about buildings. But this is already happening, isn’t it. Energy Star rated appliances, cheap home weatherizing and insulation programs, LEED standards for buildings, and so on.

  • avatar
    jdash1972

    Does everyone realize that the United States sells coal, crude oil and refined products and natural gas to the rest if the world? These are markets, with prices, that drive production. There isn’t some patriotic effort to produce all of our energy independently of the test of the world on an effort to fight terrorism. The sale goes to the high bidder.

    • 0 avatar
      jetcal1

      Hello JDash,
      Did the law forbidding the sale of crude get overturned? You’re right about the rest. But, there are some supply and demand issues that both economic and political at work here.


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