GM Debuts Electric Sail Springo in China
At Auto Guangzhou 2012, Shanghai General Motors introduced its first localized electric vehicle: the Sail Springo EV. The vehicle was developed by Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center under its "Green to Drive Technology Strategy."
The Springo EV features an electric motor that produces up to 114 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. The electric Springo zips from 0 to 62 miles per hour in roughly 10 seconds and tops out at 81 mph. By pressing the Sport button, Springo drivers can realize a 20 percent boost in acceleration for a few seconds.
The Springo EV takes about seven hours to fully charge from a 220-volt connection via its 3.3-kW charger. Range is listed at 81 miles under typical driving conditions and up to 124 miles at a constant speed of 37 mph.
As for price, GM says the Springo EV will retail for a surprising $41,460, but generous incentives available in Shanghai will drop its effective price by nearly $16,000. The Springo EV will launch in limited numbers starting in Shanghai as part of GM's electric vehicle trial program.
China’s government in 2009 released an ambitious plan to build an electric vehicle industry in China that called for annual production of 500,000 units of pure electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and conventional hybrids by 2012. It quickly realized that China’s battery technology—and other components needed to produce electric vehicles— was not up to the task. It has since released a revised and slightly more realistic plan calling for production to reach that level by 2015. Beijing has also dialed back its focus on battery electric vehicles in the near term in favor of hybrids and PHEVs.
The problem is, Chinese consumers are not eager to buy expensive and, in their minds untested, technology, even with hefty government subsidies thrown in. Sales have been very slow, in the thousands. Fleets are where the real potential for electrification lies in China and Beijing seems to be pushing local governments in China to electrify their taxi and bus fleets more quickly.
But, just as in the U.S., the Chinese government is also pushing makers of passenger cars towards alternative fuel vehicles by imposing increasingly stiffer fuel economy standards. Ray Bierzynski, the former executive director of electrification strategy for GM China, told PluginCars.com last year,“The automakers are going to have to include EVs in their product mix to meet that standard.” But, he added, “It will be a continuum of technologies, including fuel-efficient vehicles and EVs.”
Just what direction GM’s China electrification strategy will take is up in the air now, however. Bierzynski was recently appointed to an executive position at GM’s minivan and small car joint venture with Shanghai Automotive and Wuling.
As for the Springo, it is unlikely to go into volume production, but GM likes to keep the Chinese government happy with announcements of new EVs, like the one given at Auto Guangzhou 2012.
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