GM to start selling Spark EV in U.S. late next year
General Motors, which has failed to meet sales goals for the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, plans to begin selling an all-electric version of the Chevrolet Spark initially in California and Oregon in the third quarter of next year.
In addition to California and Oregon, GM said the Spark EV will be sold in Canada, Europe and Korea.
The electric model will start at less than $25,000 after a $7,500 U.S. tax credit, the company said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. Michael Albano, a GM spokesman, declined to provide an exact price.
The gasoline-powered Spark has a starting price of $12,245, according to Edmunds.com.
The Spark EV is part of GM’s effort to produce as many as 500,000 vehicles annually by 2017 with some form of battery propulsion. GM made the announcement about the electric Spark ahead of this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show.
The small car follows the Volt, which first went on sale in late 2010, and has failed to meet Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson’s sales target of 60,000 globally this year, including 45,000 in the U.S. Akerson backed away from his goal in June, saying sales would probably total 35,000 to 40,000.
Through October, GM sold 19,309 Volts in the U.S. The Volt, which starts at $31,645 after the $7,500 tax credit, can travel more than 30 miles (48 kilometers) on electric power before being propelled by a gasoline engine.
GM has also said it plans to begin production of a Cadillac two-door, plug-in hybrid called the ELR based on Volt technology late next year.
The plug-in Spark EV, which doesn’t have a gasoline engine to power it after its battery is depleted, will have an optional system that can recharge the battery to 80 percent of capacity within about 20 minutes, Detroit-based GM said.
Using a dedicated 240-volt outlet, the car recharges in fewer than seven hours, the company said.
The automaker hasn’t stated a range for the Spark EV beyond saying it expects the model to have “among the best EV battery range in its segment.”
Rebecca Lindland, an industry analyst with IHS Automotive, test-drove a Spark EV and said her car had an estimated range of 55 to 75 miles.
“That was not hyper-mile usage so I’m thinking they will push for the 100-mile-range mark,” she said in an e-mail.
Nissan Motor’s all-electric Leaf, which starts at $35,200 before the $7,500 tax credit, averages 73 miles per charge.
GM began selling the gasoline-only Spark in the U.S. this year and has reported 8,447 sales through October.
Next year, GM plans to integrate the Apple iPhone’s Siri in the Spark and Chevrolet Sonic LTZ and RS models to perform a number of voice-activated tasks, the automaker said in a separate statement.
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