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New Chevy Spark claims EV efficiency crown

April 24, 2013|By Ronald D. White
  • The Chevrolet Spark EV is unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show
The Chevrolet Spark EV is unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Chevrolet says it has earned bragging rights as the car company with the most efficient electric vehicle.

The automaker says that the 2014 Spark, which is set to go on sale this summer in California and Oregon, has an EPA estimated range of of 82 miles when fully charged and an estimated combined city/highway 119 mpge.

Mpge stands for miles per gallon gasoline equivalent.

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Chevy said the subcompact car will save an average of $9,000 over the next five years, compared with other new vehicles.

"We're very excited about the EPA announcement," Annalisa Bluhm, Chevy's communications manager for small and electrified vehicles, said in an interview.

"The 119-mpge rating means that our battery is the most efficient on the market, which means the lowest cost per mile," Bluhm said.

For consumers, range and efficiency ratings are vitally important. Many are often concerned about a shift from the "no worries" range and refueling convenience of conventionally powered gasoline and diesels cars.

"Range is a big issue for a lot of people," Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said in an interview. "Buyers have to be realistic about what they are going to use the car for."

"They have to factor in how many miles they really do drive in a typical day. They have to find out where they can recharge it when they are not at home," he added.

Nerad also noted something that longtime EV followers already know and find somewhat disappointing. The range on current EV vehicles is only "incrementally better," in some cases, than EVs from the 1990s.

The 2013 Nissan Leaf recently earned kudos from Kelley Blue Book, which ranked it at the top of its latest list of the 10 best green cars, with an estimated range of 75 miles and a combined mpge of 116.

Nissan has a big campaign in the works that will emphasize the savings consumers will gain from the Leaf.

On its fuel economy website, the EPA also said the 2013 Fiat 500e has a longer range of 87 miles, but that it got a combined mpge rating of 116.

The 2013 Honda Fit EV has a range of 82 miles, according to the EPA, and a combined mpge of 118.

Chevrolet's primary domestic competitor in the EV market, Ford, has the Focus Electric, with an an EPA estimated range of 75 miles and a combined mpge of 105.

With its 85 kilowatt-hour battery, the Tesla Model S sedan has an EPA estimated range of 265 miles, but that model starts at $72,400. It has a mpge of 89.

GM says the Spark EV's price will come in at less than $25,000 after a $7,500 federal income tax credit.

The base model S trim version of the Leaf has a price of $28,800 before the federal tax credit is applied.

To Nerad of Kelley Blue Book, the price for cars such as the Spark EV and the Leaf is more important than range and efficiency. That's why many buyers still turn to cheaper, high-mileageĀ  conventionally powered cars, he said.

"The bigger news here is price and availability. The Spark EV and the Leaf will have a pretty affordable price."


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