Chevrolet has used the Los Angeles auto show to finally give us an unencumbered look at the 2014 Spark EV. When we drove the electric hatchback previously, the front fascia was still covered by some checkered camouflage tape.
With the disguise gone, we can see that the 2014 Spark EV has solid silver templates in place of the car's usual grille openings, because the electric Spark doesn't need as much cooling air as a gasoline-powered version. Filling the grille also helped improve aerodynamics. Along with tricks like a roof spoiler, underbody trays, and active shutters for the lower front grille, Chevrolet gave the Spark EV a drag coefficient of just 0.325. That's apparently enough to add 2.5 miles of electric driving range alone.
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV uses an electric motor with 130 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, powered by a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The company hasn't yet revealed what the car's total driving range on a single battery charge, but notes that the on-board fast charger will allow for an 80-percent charge in just 20 minutes. A standard 220-volt plug will charge the car in seven hours.
Chevrolet also revealed that the 2014 Spark EV will cost less than $25,000 after tax rebates. A Chevrolet representative said the company won't reveal the car's actual price until closer to its on-sale date next year. Assuming the Spark EV will be eligible for the same $7500 tax break afforded to most new electrics, that puts the car's actual purchase price at about $32,500. The 2013 Chevrolet Volt, for reference, costs $39,995 after destination, and is also eligible for a tax rebate of up to $7500.
(It's important to note, however, that the tax break doesn't actually reduce the purchase price of an electric car. Buyers can claim the rebate on their next tax return, but only receive a rebate that matches their tax liability. If you owe $3000 in taxes, you'll only get $3000 back for buyer an electric car.)
How does the pricing stack up against other competitors? Fiat still hasn't released pricing for its 500e electric hatchback. The Honda Fit EV is only available for leasing and costs eligible customers $389 per month for 36 months. The 2012 Nissan Leaf is $36,050 including destination but before any tax rebates.
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV goes on sale in summer 2013 in California, Oregon, and Canada. Buyers in other states will have to wait until Chevrolet rolls out the electric hatchback to other markets. The company did a similar gradual roll-out of the Volt, launching the plug-in electric car only in certain states for the first few months.
In California, the 2014 Spark EV will be eligible for the much-coveted stickers that allow drivers to use the state's High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes without carrying additional passengers. That could cut commute times for Californians using the Spark EV.
The car also comes with a range of new infotainment features, including a standard touchscreen infotainment system that can access Pandora, TuneIn, and Stitcher Internet radio services through a Bluetooth-paired smartphone. The system also is compatible with Apple's Siri voice-recognition system on newer iPhones.
Chevrolet hopes that in five years' time it will sell half a million electrified vehicles -- both pure electrics and hybrids -- by 2017, and the Spark EV is a big part of that commitment.