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LA show: GM’s electric Spark to get 100kW motor

Sparkling: The Chevrolet Spark EV has more than 75 per cent electric parts commonality with GM’s plug-in Volt.

Plug-in Chevrolet Spark set to crunch 0-100km/h in less than eight seconds


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16 Nov 2012

GENERAL Motors’ new all-electric Spark EV will have about 20 per cent more power and almost double the torque of Nissan’s Leaf, according to figures revealed by the American giant ahead of the cars’ debut at the Los Angeles motor show later this month.

The company claims the little plug-in hatch will gallop from zero to 100km/h in less than eight seconds – about two seconds faster than the benchmark Nissan electric car – and about 4.5 seconds faster than the petrol Spark.

The Spark EV – based on the South Korean-built light hatchback that is sold by Holden as the Barina Spark – will get an electric motor producing “at least” 100kW, which is 20kW more than the unit powering the Leaf and 41kW more than the petrol Spark.

Chevrolet says the oil cooled permanent-magnet motor will also generate 542Nm of torque, compared with the Leaf’s 280Nm.

The Spark EV, which will be aimed primarily at customers in American states such as California where EVs are being encouraged, will also get an industry-first SAE ‘combo charger’ that will allow the Spark EV to be charged to 80 per cent battery capacity in just 20 minutes using a DC fast charger.

GM says its lab testing showed the battery pack can be recharged multiple times daily using fast chargers without harming the battery.

Charging can be managed and monitored remotely using a new smart phone application.

The media release says the battery can be charged in seven hours from a 240-volt outlet, although a 120-volt electric lead will be standard equipment in the US.

No driving range figures were provided, but GM promised “among the best in the segment” from Spark that will use a lithium-ion battery of “more than 20kWh”. This indicates the battery is about the same capacity as the Leaf’s 24kWh unit that can provide up to 170km of cruising range.

A video accompanying the press release shows the battery mounted under the back half of the car, connected to the motor and drive system in the front where they drive the front wheels.

Spark EV chief engineer Chuck Russell said his team set out to develop a car that was not only efficient but also fun to drive.

“What we think customers will enjoy most is how fun Spark EV is to drive,” he said. “It’s seamless, and power is available at every stage of the drive.

“This will help us to provide an exciting option for those customers who are looking for an EV that’s as much fun to drive as it is environmentally responsible.” As expected, more than 75 per cent of the electrical components in the Spark EV have been carried over from the Chevrolet/Holden Volt plug-in range-extender.

Like the Volt, the battery pack will be covered by an eight-year, 100,000km warranty.

GM will make the motor and drive unit at a factory near Baltimore in what GM claims is a first for a US auto manufacturer.

As GoAuto reported this week, GM Holden has no plans to introduce the Spark EV to Australia, at least until it can be shown that such cars are a viable business case here.

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