Production of Electric Chevy Spark to Begin in 2013 in Korea

By · October 26, 2012

Electric Spark teaser

GM Korea announced yesterday that production of the electric Chevy Spark will begin in 2013. General Motors' Korean arm further confirmed that the electric Spark will be sold domestically in Korea as well as exported, including to the US.

That's all the intelligence we can glean from GM's Korean language release, but prior reports indicate that the upcoming electric Spark will feature a 114-horsepower electric motor and that the vehicle will first be offered in select US markets as early as 2013.

The electric Spark's range is still unknown, and it's price has not been announced. It appears as though the supplier of the battery pack that will power the Spark is still A123 Systems, even though the company's assets were sold to Johnson Controls, as part of the suppliers' bankruptcy.

GM Korea announced that "two additional specifications and the selling price will be disclosed at a later date," so we'll stay tuned for those details. Until then, this press release is the only official word on the electric Chevy Spark.

Comments

· Larry, Richmond VA (not verified) · 1 year ago

Looks like it will be a while before there is a generally available EV that meets my criteria:

1. Made predominantly in the US.
2. Backed by a major US auto company
3. Batteries also produced in the US
4. Price at least competitive with the Leaf
5. Software and controls by somebody - anybody - other than Microsoft.

· · 1 year ago

Well, Larry, this one will probably fulfill a few, but not all. GM is the owner of what is left of the South Korean Daewoo Motors, and that's the impetus behind the Spark's overall design. The base ICE package, as currently offered, is around $13K and there's enough pseudo-luxury gadgets included at that price to keep most reasonably satisfied. One could imagine that a similarly appointed EV version could be retailed in the mid $20K range today (on par with the Smart ED, which is only a 2-seater.)

When I first saw pictures here on Plug In Cars, as it was announced in an article that it would be GM's first pure electric car since the EV1, I was rather underwhelmed. I still think the front end is rather ugly and could use a serious makeover. The aggressive grill looks particularly out of place on a car this small and the bug eye headlights make the Leaf's look petite. But I think they've done an excellent job in being able to build a car this small that can really accommodate 4 passengers.

I saw one briefly at our Tucson National Plug In Day celebration last month, where the local Chevy dealer was displaying Volts. And, just yesterday, the GM corporate folks had several small Chevys parked on the grassy campus mall at the University of Arizona, just a short walk from where I work. They were obviously gearing their promotion towards students and might have been a bit surprised when an old codger like me walked up to take a look. One of the cars was a Spark (gasoline engine, obviously) and I spent a little while after work checking it out.

I didn't feel the least bit cramped in the front seat when it was adjusted back all the way (I'm 6' 3".) With the driver's seat in this position, I briefly popped into the seat directly behind and, yes, it's impossibly tight back there for someone my size. But a large child or small adult would probably be just fine. The front passenger seat was adjusted about mid way and the seat behind it felt just as spacious. Dash controls were laid out logically and cleanly.

The rear cargo area, as you can imagine, is very small. But this is partially made up by the car's height. What I really wanted to see, though, was the space underneath. I didn't mind possibly getting a few grass stains on my t-shirt and this was the time and place to do it, instead of lying down on the hot blacktop at the dealership lot. The gas tank is super tiny. There is a cavernous amount of empty space surrounding it and one can imagine that the proposed 20kW battery could fit in there very easily. Hmmm . . .

We'll have to see what shakes out with A123, now that they're gone and Johnson Controls, presumably, continues on with their technology and manufacturing facilities. Batteries made in the US? That will probably happen before Sparks - or others cars of similar diminutive size - roll off the assembly lines on these shores.

As for the software manufacturer behind all those electro-luxury gadgets, I didn't ask. The nice young GM rep I talked to yesterday seemed genuinely confused and maybe even a bit aghast that I seemed far more interested in how well the doors and hatches closed and sealed (there's good fit and finish in this regard, by the way) than the what the center console touch display was capable of doing or how well mediocre contemporary Pop music was rendering on the surround-sound system.

As with the Volt I'm currently borrowing, the windshield-mounted rear view mirror is tiny (it looks like it might even be the same unit,) but, fortunately, unlike the Volt, there's a real piece of glass out back to look through. Thus, I could head off to Pep Boys or Checker and buy a jumbo clip-on mirror and actually see out the entire rear window. This was the first thing I bought for the '51 Chevy, by the way. When the GM rep proudly told me that a rear view camera with dash display was optional. I just gave him an ironic smile.

· · 1 year ago

Benjamin, nice write up. Despite already owning two EVs (an old Leopard and a new iMiev), I was really considering the Spark. Who knows, by the time it comes out (I'm guessing 2014 sometime), perhaps I'll have had too many headaches with my old conversion and will buy one. I just hope they do price it at around what the iMiev goes for. And if it will have a 20 kwh battery pack, it should have an EPA rated range better than the Leaf. I hope to see it sooner, rather than later ...

· · 1 year ago

Thanks, Dan. I only wish I had gotten to sit it (and drive) the EV version. It's pretty much a given that it will be a California compliance car at first, so the rest of us might not see it until, say, 2015.

One of the guys in our local EV club is taking delivery of an i later this month and, thus, will be the first in Tucson to have one. There's a good chance that he'll let most of us in the club take a spin behind the wheel at an upcoming meeting. One of the things that impresses me about the Mitsubishi is the amount of space inside, when the back seats fold down. I haven't taken the i off my list yet, as it will be generally available, affordable and has all that space for light yet bulky cargo.

Keep your battery terminals dry when Hurricane Sandy dowses central Pennsylvania
later this week (I remember all to well what Agnes did there back in '72.)

· Spec (not verified) · 1 year ago

@Larry

You want a USA built car from a USA car company with USA-built batteries . . . . but screw it if it has USA-created Microsoft software! I just thought that was funhy.

· Spec (not verified) · 1 year ago

They need to get this out the door ASAP so there are at least some cars with the SAE combo plug.

· · 1 year ago

Yes, true, Spec. The race is on to see which of "The SAE Combo Seven" will bring out an EV with that much ballyhooed Level 3 plug.

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