Published April 24, 2013
General Motors said Wednesday that the battery-powered version of its Chevrolet Spark mini-car can travel up to 82 miles on a single charge, putting it among the leaders in mass-market electric vehicles sold in the U.S.
The Spark EV also gets the equivalent of 119 miles per gallon in testing monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. GM said that makes it the most efficient car available for sale to the public. The figure is for combined city and highway driving.
The tiny electric Chevrolet goes on sale in July in Oregon and California. GM hasn't released the price but has said it will be less than $32,500, excluding a $7,500 federal tax credit. The company also hasn't said when it will go on sale in other states.
The Spark enters the market at a time when gasoline prices nationwide are relatively low. The average price of a gallon of regular gas on Wednesday was $3.52, 33 cents less than the same time last year, according to AAA. Lower gas prices and a limited range have held down U.S. electric car sales.
Automakers sold almost 4,900 fully electric vehicles in the first quarter of this year, nearly three times the number from a year ago, according to the Edmunds.com automotive website. But that's only 0.13 percent of total U.S. car sales.
Other electric cars can travel farther on a single charge. The Fiat 500e, for example, can go 87 miles on a charge according to EPA estimates, while versions of the Tesla Model S can travel up to 265 miles per charge.
GM's Chevrolet Volt can go 38 miles per charge, which is less than all-electric cars because the Volt has a smaller battery and a gas-powered generator that kicks in after the battery is depleted. The Volt gets the equivalent of 98 miles per gallon on both electricity and gasoline, according to the EPA.
The EPA calculates the gas mileage equivalent for electric cars like this: One gallon of gasoline creates the same energy as 33.7 kilowatt hours of electricity. It then determines how far an electric car can travel on that amount of battery power.
The Scion IQ EV has a higher gas mileage equivalency figure than the Spark EV at 121 mpg, but Toyota said it is offered only to partners for testing purposes.
The motor and other driveline parts for the Spark EV are made in Baltimore, but the car is assembled in South Korea along with the gasoline version.