What would you say if I told you that Chevrolet already had a fully-electric car on the market? No, not the upcoming Bolt that you've probably been seeing in the news recently, but one that's been around for about two years now.
If you've been browsing cars at a Miami Chevy dealer recently, you probably wouldn't believe me because you wouldn't be able to find one on the lot. So what gives? Where is this mythical fully-electric Chevy?
Well the truth is, it's only available in California, Oregon, and Maryland . It was created in order to meet the California state regulations that only allow auto makers with zero-emission vehicles in their line-up to sell ANY type of vehicle in the state.
And because the demand for fully-electric vehicles is so low as a whole, auto makers like Chevy can't afford to ramp up production on cars that will more than likely lose money due to the necessary advanced technology and overall low-production volume.
That news might seem bad, but the electric car movement that started in California is slowly spreading nationwide, and as Chevy releases its 200-mile Bolt nationwide during the 2017 model year, there's bound to be more demand for fully-electric vehicles.
For now, let's learn more about one of the vehicles that's working to spread the joy of electric cars: the Chevy Spark EV.
"Well, duh," you might be thinking to yourself, especially after reading the intro above. But the fact is, there's a lot of confusion out there in the market regarding terms used to describe vehicles.
For instance, the original Toyota Prius, the first successful "hybrid" car wasn't what we would necessarily call a plug-in hybrid. This is because it could not run in a fully-electric mode for any amount of time. Its electric motor simply made it possible for the gasoline engine to work more efficiently, therefore using less gas and increasing the vehicle's overall mpg rating.
The Chevy Volt, on the other hand, is actually what we would call a plug-in hybrid, as it has an electric motor, which can power the vehicle to a certain range without relying on the traditional internal combustion engine at all. Once the electric battery power runs out, however, the Volt automatically switches over and starts functioning like a regular car.
These plug-in hybrids are becoming more and more popular because owners can go about their daily business, come home, charge it up, and as long as you don't go over the electric range it can function as if it were a fully-electric car. The difference is, if you need the extra distance, it's there for convenience.
So for the record, the Spark EV is not a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid, it's a fully-electric car that produces no emissions and runs purely on its internal battery power.
For fully-electric cars, range is everything. Just as fuel efficiency is important for subcompact cars, like the original Chevy Spark, buyers want an electric car that can go the furthest on a single charge.
In a test by popular electric car blog, InsideEVs, a tester was sent on an 80-mile loop through San Diego while traveling an average of 62 miles per hour. According to EPA estimates, the Nissan Leaf has a range of about 75 miles, while the Chevy Spark EV has a range of 82 miles.
After completing the test and going through some complicated calculations, InsideEVs determined that the Spark EV actually has a range somewhere around 97.8 miles. The Leaf was tested with two vehicles, a 2012 model and a 2013 model. The 2012 Leaf's calculated range was 88.7 miles, while the newer 2013 model dropped to 81.7 miles.
Overall, it's clear that the EPA estimates are fairly low and the Spark EV has a good range advantage over the Nissan Leaf.
In April 2015, GM discounted the Spark EV by $1,650 to a low price of $25,995. On top of this, the company is offering one of the most affordable leases available today: $139 per month with zero down. Try finding that on any other vehicle!
If you decide to buy the Spark EV, Chevy will also give you bonus cash as an extra incentive. In California, you'll receive $1,000; Maryland you'll get $1,200; and Oregon you can get $3,500. That's pretty crazy!
This is before the state and federal-level tax credits, which can total up to $10,000, making the price of the Spark EV just under $15,000 overall. For comparison, the Nissan Leaf starts at $29,010 before it gets the same incentives. Yet we know the Spark EV has a longer range, so what's with the $3,000 price difference.
Another Spark EV competitor, the Fiat 500e, actually starts at $33,200, meaning it costs $7,000 more. The kicker? It's just as efficient as the Spark EV.
Kelley Blue Book's awards are some of the most coveted in the automotive industry. And for those looking for a true value vehicle, the 5-Year Cost-to-Own awards are the best place to hunt for your next vehicle.
If you happen to be browsing the plug-in vehicle category, the vehicle at the top probably looks familiar: it's the Spark EV, which is now a two-time winner in the category.
KBB loves the fact that the Spark EV has a ton of torque for instant acceleration, great handling, and superior safety when compared to other fully-electric cars on the market. Its interior also had a ton of standard features that you wouldn't expect on an economy car like the Spark EV. A programmable instrument cluster, 7-inch touchscreen, two driving modes, and add-on options like leather and heated seats can take it to the next level.
The Spark EV's final 5-year cost to own estimate was just $28,964, which is nearly $3,000 less than the Nissan Leaf's (in 2nd place) $31,763 total 5-year cost to own estimate.