Chevy Spark EV Becoming Sleeper Hit, But Stock is Limited

By · November 01, 2013

Chevy Spark EV

The Chevrolet Spark EV is only available in California and Oregon, and it has only been on sale in those two states since June. But sales are exceeding expectations, Dale Sullivan, regional director of Chevrolet for General Motors Western Region told “It is way over our expectation,” he said. “Keeping a good quantity in stock is the biggest problem we have.”

General Motors has sold 310 Spark EVs since June, said Sullivan. “It is getting us our Millennial buyers that we really wanted in Chevrolet, and just like Volt, it gets us conquest buyers,” said Sullivan.

The Spark EV, which is currently produced only in Korea, is the only pure electric vehicle General Motors offers. By comparison, the Chevy Volt range-extended electric vehicle sold 1,027 units in October alone in the 14-state Western Region, said Sullivan. More than half of those Volt sales were in California, he added. (Total U.S. sales of the Volt in October were 2,022 units.

The Spark EV has a base price of $26,685 MSRP before any tax credits. Buyers are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, as well as a $2,500 credit in California and $1,500 in Oregon.

Those tax credits make the Spark EV a great deal, according to Chad Kelman, general sales manager at Bunnin Chevrolet in Culver City, Calif., in western Los Angeles County. Kelman told that Bunnin Chevrolet was the number one Volt dealer in the country in September and one of the top five in Spark EV sales.

Bunnin sells every Spark EV it can get, which is about five to 10 a month, said Kelman. Some 60 percent of the deals are leases. The Spark EV lease can be as low as $199 a month, he said. “In a car like this, you get the $2,500 state rebate coming straight to you,” he said. “So you get the down payment and a few month’s lease” in rebates.

The Spark EV is offered in two trim levels—the $325 jump from 1LT to 2LT gets you leatherette heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with silver accents (according to Chevy’s website). Sales are about evenly split between the two, said Kelman.

Quick Charge Ports Not Yet Available

The higher 2LT trim will offer the option of DC Fast Charge capability—with an additional cost that's estimated to be $1,200 to $1,500—but current Spark EV models have not been equipped with quick charging, according to Kelman. But they are on the way. “We have been eagerly awaiting those,” said Kelman. “We are waiting to hear how fast we can get them. We already have some on order.”

The Chevy Spark uses the SAE Combo Cord standard, rather than the CHAdeMO protocol. The first SAE-compatible station was introduced in early October, in San Diego. So, it will be some time before Spark EV customers can take advantage of quick-charging.

Buyers from out of state try to buy Spark EVs from Bunnin, but Chevy dealers are under orders from GM not sell the BEV to any buyers not from Oregon or California because GM wants the zero emissions credits, he said. Under California’s Zero Emission Vehicle rule automakers must sell a certain number of zero emission vehicles in the state or face fines. Oregon has similar vehicle emissions regulations.

Bunnin has Level 2 240-volt charging stations at its dealership. Anyone with an electric vehicle can use them, not just Spark EV or Volt owners, said Kelman. After the first of the year, Bunnin will begin construction of a separate delivery area for electric vehicles, he said.

Update: Fast Charge capability adds $750 to the price of a car. Bunnin Chevrolet currently has six Spark EVs with Fast Charge on order. Models with the Fast Charge capability will go into production in mid-Novermber and arrive to dealerships in mid-December.

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