In case you’re still looking for proof that General Motors has changed radically, look no further than than the Chevrolet Spark. The Spark is a minicar currently sold around the world. In 2009, General Motors confirmed that it would eventually make its way to the United States, as a 2012 or 2013 model.
Since then we haven’t heard much more about it, but today GM has confirmed that its U.S-arrival is set for next year. The Spark has gotten a few design tweaks since we’ve last seen it – an updated front grille and lower fascia, among other things. The standard car is powered by a 1.2-liter four-cylinder making just 83 horsepower. It is paired with a standard five-speed manual and optional automatic. The big news though is that GM has announced the Spark EV, which will be the first all-electric GM model on sale since the EV1.
GM hasn’t made any secret that it thinks all-electric vehicles have limited appeal, especially affordable ones that necessitate low-range battery packs. There have been many stories of stranded customers on the side of the road with the Nissan LEAF due to inaccurate range estimates. As such, the range-extended electric-vehicle system used in the Volt will be the centerpiece of GM’s strategy going forward. That doesn’t mean the company doesn’t want to offer an all-electric model as an option though.
The Spark EV will be geared toward urban customers. Jim Federico, global vehicle engineer for electric vehicles at Chevrolet says: “The Spark EV offers customers living in urban areas who have predictable driving patterns or short commutes an all-electric option.”
The Spark EV will be sold in “limited quantities” in select U.S and global markets starting in 2013. GM offered no details on range estimates, except to say it will use nanophosphate lithium-ion battery packs sourced from A123 Systems. The standard Spark will go on sale next year, competing against the Fiat 500 and MINI. The Spark, Sonic and Cruze help to insulate GM against fluctuations in gas prices. It remains to be seen how Americans will take to a Chevy minicar.