Given the huge splash GM made with the Volt, why do you suppose this Spark EV car is being officially announced with very little fanfare? Is it because it's aimed at the Asian markets or that it is GM's way of managing expectations?
Beth: Good question. My best answer is that GM doesn't see this as a mainstream vehicle. The Volt was aimed at a broad market. The Spark has a niche market in the U.S. For now, U.S. sales are California only, and it's a very small vehicle that will have limited appeal. I think they believe it will be more appealing in India.
Now GM is starting to get into cost effective EV's it seems. The Spark is both light and fairly aero so a good platform plus IIRC it was designed to be either EV or ICE in it;s showcar version at least, much like the Smart was though just now getting Smart EV's.
By going lighter GM can use a smaller battery pack, drive that should sell around $20k which I doubt will fly in India.
But here doing commuting, running around the kids, shopping it can save enough on gas alone to pay for itself, much like the Leaf EV, in 5-7 yrs compared to similar ICE's. YMMV depending on gas price rises, mpd, etc.
Remember there are large markets ready for these. Many Seniors already drive lower speed EV, NEV's for most or even all their transport needs. Here in Fla homes come with small EV garages just for them standard in many communities. They would love to step up to a faster version that can go anywhere not restricted to 35mph or less streets.
Then there is the Women and college students markets, both of which like small low cost cars.
Since my small lightweight EV is paid for it costs just $2/wk for fuel, battery costs, I'm laughing all the way to the bank. Others want to do the same but few available and those that are have sold out and costly.
The part about 50mph top speed is strange as if one has the power to accelerate to 50mph in reasonable time will have the power to do 65-70mph. I see no reason they would restrict top speed in the US.
I have had many thoughts about electic cars, here is one.
Imagine a suitcase with wheels that is full of batteries. You charge the batteries in the car or out of the car. Loading a battery into the car is done by opening the tail gate and using a slide mechanism (no lifting) such that a battery can be off loaded or loaded with minimal effort.
Each battery could have a range of say 12 miles which would allow you to pop to the shops etc. 2 batteries could be used to get extended mileage or to allow one to be charged while another is in use.
An alternative case could contain a small engine and fuel (very much like a standalone generator) this would allow longer distances to be travelled or the batteries to be charged while in the shops.
I'll need it to tow a trailer with another battery to power the air conditioner! Southern Arizona won't be a market in any event, since it's 20 miles round trip to the supermarket. IMHO a waste of stockholders money. Smells like the old GM management.
I see your point with the golf cart communities cropping up everywhere now. But it is still an expensive toy, especially for those on fixed incomes (i.e. retired).
An EV based on an up-sized golf cart instead of a downsized car would be a better fit for that niche. The problem is the excesive regulation from the NHSTB forces car manufacturers to build expensive monstrocities. To get around that, start as an off-highway vehicle that just happens to be equiped such that states will licsence it (headlights, markers, turn signals, shatterproof winshield).
Unlinke the stupid Volt the EV-1 makes sense. I think electric power would be great for short errands requiring no warm-up or even a starting procedure. Perhaps 60% of what I do with my 4x4 pickup now. I could also trailer it behind the pickup and use it for cheap commuting at a distant location. Hmmm, I could rig the truck to recharge the EV-1 battery as I travel... and I could make the trailer a covered one like a mini garage...
In much of the US, an electric vehicle is actually a coal-fired steam car with the boiler and steam engine located at the power station. It is hardly "zero emission" nor fossil fuel free. To make an electric car truly "green" one would have to charge the battery from a clean renewable energy source.
About 25 years ago I helped set up a solar charging station for an electric car used to commute to work and back. Even with lead-acid batteries it did quite well.
I do salute GM, however, for recognizing that an electric need not duplicate the performance of a gas car and therefore designing for a specific market.
The Spark makes sense to me. If it is light and small I could tow it behind my 4x4 pickup keeping it charged and, upon arrival commute, all over town visting and shopping. All of the items bought could be put in the truck for hauling back home. Once at home I'd just keep it parked on the trailer so it would always be ready.
A half century ago, cars were still built by people, not robots. Even on some of the countryís longest assembly lines, human workers installed windows, doors, hoods, engines, windshields, and batteries, with no robotic aid.
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