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LA show: GM’s electric Spark

Fully charged: Chevrolet’s Spark EV is GM’s second attempt at a full-electric production vehicle, following in the wheel tracks of the 1990s EV1.

Chevrolet Spark EV set to jump-start new electric era for General Motors in US

Chevrolet logo14 Nov 2012

GENERAL Motors will reveal its new-generation all-electric car at the Los Angeles motor show late this month.

To be launched in 2013 and designed to challenge the Nissan Leaf, the Chevrolet Spark EV will be aimed primarily at California and other American states with stringent emissions laws.

A similar Chevrolet small electric vehicle, to be called Springo, also is on the launch pad for the Chinese market where it is expected to be launched the Guangzhou motor show that coincides with the LA show.

Neither car is likely to land in Australia under Holden Barina Spark badges any time soon.

However, Holden director external communications Craig Cheetham told GoAuto: “You never say never.

“In the short term, the chances are very, very slim. It largely depends on whether the Australian market embraces EVs.

“You could say it is a suck it and see exercise.”

For now, the Holden Volt range-extender hatchback will hold the Holden fort in plug-in electrified vehicles in Australia.

137 center imageLeft: Current Holden Barina Spark.

GM has held back most of the details of the Spark EV, apart from revealing an image showing both the car and a shot of the dash with its large Volt-style digital instrument display.

However, it is expected to borrow much of the Volt’s electric running gear and lithium-ion battery technology.

Like the Volt, the Spark EV’s grille will be filled in for aerodynamic gains.

The Chinese Springo EV, which is based on the Chevy Sail sold in that country, might provide some hints at the Spark powertrain.

Chinese media reports suggest the Springo will get a GM-supplied 22kWh battery and an electric motor producing 85kW.

It is said to be capable of 130km/h and a range of 150km.

Exact on-sale timing and performance figures for the American Spark EV have been held back until the vehicle is revealed at the show, but Chevrolet promises the Spark EV will be one of 13 new or “significantly redesigned” products to be launched by GM’s biggest brand next year.

As well as the Spark EV, Chevrolet will showcase the latest version of its MyLink car connectivity system that is being launched in the new 2013 Chevrolet Impala that will be displayed at the LA show alongside the Malibu Turbo and Sonic (Barina) RS.

The Spark EV is GM’s second attempt at an all-electric vehicle in the US. GM leased the all-electric EV1 coupe from 1996 to 1999, producing a total of 1117 vehicles before the program was controversially short-circuited by GM CEO Rick Wagoner on cost grounds.

Many of the lease cars were returned to the manufacturer and crushed, sparking outrage among pro-EV consumers. The vehicle was not distributed outside the US.

Meanwhile, Holden is expected to add a long-awaited automatic transmission to its Barina Spark range, possibly along with more power and new features in a 2013 update to be announced soon.

The manual-only Korean-built Barina Spark has struggled for sales in Australia, achieving just 1168 sales in the 10 months to the end of October this year.

This is a 66 per cent plunge on last year’s volume.

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