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GM confirmed this week that an all-electric version of its Chevy Spark will debut in 2013, and compete directly against Nissan’s electric vehicle, the Leaf.
"The Spark EV offers customers living in urban areas who have predictable driving patterns or short commutes an all-electric option. It complements Chevrolet’s growing range of electrified vehicles, including the Volt extended-range EV and the 2013 Malibu Eco with eAssist technology,” says Jim Federico, global vehicle chief engineer for electric vehicles at Chevrolet.
Reuters reported that “the all-electric Spark continues GM's push to seize the mantle of "greenest automaker in the world" from Toyota Motor Corp, which makes the popular Prius hybrid. GM, like other major automakers, also needs more fuel-efficient cars as the industry pushes toward more stringent U.S. requirements that will be in place by 2025.” Clearly, CEO Dan Akerson is pushing GM aggressively on electric vehicles and the strides it takes now, perhaps, will move GM toward long-term rewards.
In the short-term GM and other manufacturers of all-electric vehicles face significant obstacles to U.S. acceptance. The biggest hurdle is the price. Consumers obviously welcome anything that can free them from gasoline's cost and unpredictable price spikes. But at the same time, a consumer survey by Automotive News showed that 78 percent of U.S. consumers were unwilling to pay more than $30,000 for an Electric Vehicle. That makes government incentives critical to drive sales.
To satisfy a majority of consumers, Automotive News’ survey says that EVs would have to deliver a 200-mile driving range on a single battery charge and, most consumers want a charging time of less than two hours.
The GM Spark’s battery is produced by A123 Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: AONE) which develops and manufactures advanced lithium-ion batteries and energy storage systems that deliver high power and energy density, long life, and excellent safety performance.
GM is keeping the details about the driving range and vehicle price under wraps for now, and will release that information closer to introduction. But, I’m betting that with innovative battery technology, the Spark will be a game-changer.
If an all-electric vehicle with a 200-mile drive range was available for $30,000 or less, would you be interested?