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Plug and Play: 2014 Chevy Spark EV

By Arv Voss, September 14th, 2013

Chevrolet adds its most efficient Electric Vehicle to the 2014 lineup -- the Spark EV with an electric drive range of 82 miles. It joins an electrifying portfolio including the Volt, along with the eAssist Malibu and Impala, in Chevy's quest for sustainability.

The 2014 Spark EV is a great car for the city driving scenario that combines technology, functionality and style in a visually pleasing package that's also great fun to drive -- just plug and play.

The Spark EV closely resembles the regular Chevy Spark in its basic form and dimensions, but serves up several design cues that hint at its pure electric propulsion. The Spark EV is a sporty hatch with room for four passengers.

The overall shape is that of an exaggerated wedge. The EV is readily recognizable by its lack of exhaust and blocked out upper grille sections -- only a lower air inlet, flanked by two smaller, sculpted inlets appear at the front.

Power for the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV comes from the permanent magnetic drive motor (105kWh) with energy supplied by lithium-ion phosphate batteries in multiple linked square-shaped modules consisting of 336 cells weighing in at a total of 560 pounds. It provides 140 horsepower along with 400 lb.-ft. of torque. There is no conventional transmission, but rather a direct coaxial drive system with drive shafts off each side of the transversely mounted motor that transfers motive force to the front wheels.

The fuel economy equivalent EPA-estimated combined city/highway is 119 mpgE (128 city/109 highway or 28 kW hours of electricity per 100 miles). The Spark EV is capable of scooting from 0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds. The battery pack is mounted low beneath the rear seat floor, and its positioning results in a near 50/50 weight distribution.

The Spark EV is recharged on regular household current with a 120V, which takes approximately 13 hours for a full charge. Another 240V recharging system from Bosch Automotive Solutions may be utilized allowing a full recharge in less than 7 hours. Charging may be managed and monitored remotely using the Spark EV's smartphone application provided by OnStar, which is standard for three years.

My test 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV was Electric Blue with dark leatherette interior. Driving the Chevy Spark EV is a total hoot. Punch the Sport button and the power application is amplified dramatically, which doesn't do much for the economy, but it definitely provides a much more fun and spirited experience behind the wheel.

Regenerative braking is standard and aids in replenishing the battery charge level, extending vehicle range. Even more regen braking benefit may be applied by selecting the low range in the shift panel for downhill runs.

The incredible 400 lb.-ft. of torque delivers rapid and impressive acceleration and the lower center of gravity (than the gas-powered Spark) and ideal weight distribution provide a flat and stable ride quality that is also quite comfortable.

There's no need for an external or integrated navigation system as the Android and iPhone phone application "Bring Go" is available, projecting directions on the MyLink screen. Pandora and Stitcher are also available along with Chevy's MyLink system for entertainment and state-of-the-art connectivity.

When compared to an average conventionally-powered vehicle, the Spark EV can potentially save its owners up to $9,000 in fuel costs over a 5-year period. The starting price for the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV is $27,495 with a net price as low as $19,995 after a full Federal tax credit of $7,500 and additional local rebates.

The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV may be leased for 36 months for $199 per month with $999 due at signing. The Spark EV costs less than the Fiat 500e, Ford Focus EV, Honda Fit EV, which is lease only, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf. Only the Fiat 500e has more range, by two miles.

Specifications

Base price $27,495 (as tested: $19,995)
Curb weight 2,967 lbs.
Epa mileage rating 128 mpgE city, 109 mpgE highway
Horsepower (net) 140
Motor type Permanent magnetic drive motor
Overall length 146.5 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 400
Transmission Direct coaxial drive
Vehicle type 4-passenger FWD mini EV
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