Baltimore Gives EVs a Jolt As Chevy Spark Motors Enter Production

By · April 17, 2013

Spark EV Motor Manufacturing

General Motors started production of Spark EV motors in Maryland.

For more than a year, EV fans have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV. An all-electric variant of the unusually popular gasoline subcompact, the 2014 Spark EV will be the first electric-only car to issue from General Motors since the ill-fated EV1.

Unlike its big brother, the Chevrolet Volt, which is built in the U.S. at G.M.’s Detroit Hamtramck facility, the Chevrolet Spark will be assembled by G.M. in South Korea. But while the limited number of Chevrolet Spark EVs going on sale (in California and Oregon) this summer will be foreign imports, G.M. wants you to know it has an American heart.

That’s because the 100-kilowatt motor and transmission giving the diminutive five-door hatch its sub-8 second 0-60-m.p.h. time will hail from G.M.’s White Marsh facility in Baltimore, Mary. G.M. already produces transmissions for its range of heavy duty pickup trucks at that facilitiy.

Chevrolet says it invested heavily in its White Marsh facility in order to bring eMotor production to the U.S., making it the "first domestic automaker" to do so. A figure of $250 million was mentioned in 2010. The first? The key word here of course is "domestic." Other automakers, including Nissan already built electric car motors in the U.S.

Small but cleverly designed, the gasoline Chevrolet Spark has proven popular with frugally-minded car buyers around the world since 1998. Even when it debuted in the U.S. late last year, it quickly became a strong seller in the rapidly expanding city car segment.

But will the electric variant follow in the gasoline Spark’s tire tracks? The Spark has the right name for an electric car, but with sales initially restricted to California and Oregon, it’s not exactly going to be the easiest car to buy. In other words, the Spark EV is primarily a car intended to help G.M. comply with zero-emissions regulations.

Tough Competition

Availability could become an issue, and so will price. At $32,000 before any federal and state incentives are applied, the tiny Spark EV is $3,200 more expensive than the entry level 2013 Nissan LEAF S. While some car buyers may prefer the Spark’s looks over that of its Japanese rival, the LEAF wins hands down on size and everyday practicality.

There is however a sliver of hope. The Chevrolet Spark EV should be a fun car to drive. Delivering more power than the gasoline model, and 400 pound feet of torque to get it moving from the lights, it puts a smile on the face of nearly everybody who sits behind the wheel.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.