Americans who want to buy a battery electric car will have an ever larger menu of models to choose from. As one example, Chevrolet will offer an all-electric version of its tiny Chevrolet Spark. Initially, the Spark EV will be available in limited quantities in select U.S markets, possibly only California, as well as in other markets starting in 2013. General Motors will also sell the Spark with a gasoline engine in the U.S. and Canada starting in mid-2012.
The Spark is a five-door, four-passenger hatchback that’s 14 inches shorter than the Chevrolet Sonic, but four inches longer than the Fiat 500. Sparks sold in North America will be a second-generation design with a modified front end featuring an enlarged lower air intake and altered grille.
In the U.S. and Canada, the Spark will be powered by a 1.2 liter, four-cylinder engine delivering 83 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission will be standard with a four-speed automatic optional. It is expected to provide 40 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Like other small cars being introduced for the urban driving environment, the Spark will be available with a color touch screen radio, MyLink infotainment connectivity with Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio, and heated seats.
GM has not released many details on the Spark EV for the U.S. market but does say that A123 Systems will supply its advanced nanophosphate lithium-ion battery packs. The Spark EV will likely borrow heavily from the Chevrolet Beat EV unveiled in India this past June, which uses a liquid-cooled 20 kWh lithium-ion battery pack powering a 45-kilowatt electric motor that drives the front wheels. Chevrolet is quoting a range of about 80 miles for the Beat EV. The Spark, which was originally seen as the Chevrolet Beat concept at the 2007 New York Auto Show, is sold as the Chevrolet Beat in India.