If you are reading this from anywhere in the United States or Canada, you’re probably assuming the Chevy Spark was an automobile that was created just shy of 8 years ago (in 2011). But truth is, the first models were released as far back as 1998.
Given that it was originally under Daewoo Motors, then by GM Daewoo and then taken over by GM Korea.
“More Than Just Compliance.”
Since we are talking about the electric version of this unique car, let’s fast-forward to 2014 to the first ever model, unfortunately being available only in a few ZERO emissions states such as California, Oregon and Maryland.GM made a groundbreaking release with the Spark EV, something that could truly compete with the Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500e, Mitsubishi iMIEV and a handful of others.
During this time period that seems to be just yesterday, people were getting acquainted with the theory of daily driving electric cars. The Nissan Leaf was a HUGE hit, thousands upon thousands being sold annually.
One would think that Chevy was trying to jump on the bandwagon and capitalize in the market. But…. that was not the case, just as fast as the car came, it left.
GM produced their Chevrolet Spark EV from 2014 to 2016. They called it their “compliance car” for all those gas guzzling trucks, SUV’s, full-size sedans and sports cars they are very well known for.
One thing they did learn after the Spark EV was that they could do better, so they released the Bolt EV.
I remember first seeing this car on the road and saying to myself, “you’ll never see me driving that thing… GOODNESS how do people fit in”. Yet, fast-forward a few years later and after driving it a few times… it all started to make sense.
My initial impressions of this car were poor, and to be quite honest most people I asked said the same thing. The small size, small wheels and odd front-end gave it a feminine look. Guys would probably not be first in line to drive them (unless they had no other options, and even then… maybe). When chosen in a neutral color such as black, silver or even white… the car looks better. It does not flash too much, and most people would never know this thing is an EV.
The few people who are in the “know” could tell the different front grill and the extra opening on the side for the charge port. Badging aside, it was tough to tell even if you sat inside and looked around. For those evolving with the times, it looks like a normal sport hatchback that people can drive around the city.
Let’s talk about the good. In a world that is steadily moving towards smaller and more efficient vehicles, the Chevy Spark EV fits right in. Throw it back 5 to 10 years ago at least and the acceptance of most people would be far smaller.
WILD COLORS: All three years from 2014 to 2016 are mostly the same on the exterior. It comes in multiple colors that range from nothing flashy like black, gray or silver to eye popping colors like red, green, baby blue and even light purple. There’s a color for most people to choose from, that is for certain.
PRACTICAL: As I said above, it’s a small car. The small size and design of windows make it simple to look around when making turns or backing into a parking space. From front to back the length of the car is only 146.5″ inches. Compare that to a more well-known compact hatchback like a Volkswagen Golf (from 2015 for example), you are almost 20″ inches shorter. That’s almost TWO FEET. Getting in and out is quite easy, especially in the front driver and passenger seats. When it’s just one or two individuals in the car, there’s a surprising amount of headroom and legroom (coming from a 6′ foot tall guy).
MORE TECH: Once seated inside, you’ll be presented with a fair mount of technology from the instrument cluster LCD display which shows range, kW usage rate, real-time efficiency monitoring and more. Even more information can be found in the touch screen radio.Overall, technology is simple to use, intuitive and is a nice look at what the future has in store.
HIGHLY EFFICIENT: Compared to its competition (mostly the Nissan Leaf), one would assume the smaller battery (21kW in 2014 model) would get lower range than the Nissan Leaf (24kW in 2014 model), but that isn’t the case much at all.
While technically the Spark EV gets 2 less miles according to Chevrolet, the Nissan Leaf gets 84 miles from a bigger 24kW battery pack with 3 additional kilowatt hours of battery power. In 2014, the Chevy Spark EV weighed 2,967 pounds with the 21 kW hr battery pack. In 2015 and 2016 they changed battery supplier and managed to drop down the battery pack to 19kW, yet still managing the factory rated 82 miles.
In addition to that, the cars curb weight dropped down to 2,866 (nearly 100 pounds less).In a nutshell, the Spark EV is VERY EFFICIENT.
GOOD DC FAST CHARGING: The last thing I’d like to mention that you’ll LOVE about the Spark EV, is the DC fast charging option. While RARE, when in use… the Spark EV can get 80% charge in around 20-25 minutes minutes and a full charge in around 45 minutes.
This car is FAR from perfect, that’s a fact.
BACKSEATS ARE SMALL: Being a small compact car, anyone who is taller than 6.0′ or 6.1′ would find it rather difficult to drive it comfortably. This is especially true in the back seats, of which there are only room for two. For some reason Chevy decided it would be a good idea to place a cup holder and plastic cover in between the left and right backseats (eliminating a possible third seater). While I understand it would be nearly impossible to seat three people in the back, there are some who would fit without much of an issue (even if three).
TRUNK SPACE IS SMALL: Let’s move towards the trunk space, it’s small. If you plan on doing any kind of Costco wholesale food runs, the trunk space is a measly 9.6 ft³. Folding DOWN the back seats would increase the room to a reasonable 23.4 cubic feet which would eliminate your worries. But then again, you now have room for just two people.
COOLING IS MEDIOCRE: Let’s talk about the HVAC system. While the heating is fine… the air conditioning is rather pathetic. In a hot 90 F+ degree day, you’d need to run the AC at full blast and even then… its OKAY at best.
NO NAVIGATION: Moving up towards the infotainment system, you are lacking built-in NAVIGATION. I’d say it would-of been a fairly insignificant cost to add considering this being an electric vehicle and the factory sticker price of mid to upper 20’s.
There’s some strange things about the Chevy Spark EV. The following list is what I found to be bazaar.
Key Fob: Because the Chevy Spark was originally a gasoline burning automobile, Chevy cut a few corners with their retrofitting of the Spark EV. The result was no ignition inside (wireless push button start) but still an exterior key slot for a physical key.
DC Fast Charging RARE: It goes beyond me why Chevrolet gave this option to people and why most people ended up skipping on that option since it costs only $750. Looking for the Spark EV with the DC option is a treat because there were very few ever sold.
Torque Numbers Reduced: In the first year the Spark EV became available for purchase in 2014, Chevrolet used a 21 kilowatt hour battery pack which had a rated torque number of 400. Shortly after that in 2015 and 2016, they changed their supplier and reduced the size to 19 kilowatts. This had no impact on range, but the torque figures went from 400 to 327.
Where Is The Car Now?
As of this review, it is 2019 and it has been 5 years since the first model year Chevrolet Spark EV became public. The car has grown to become a rather unique collectors item.
During the three model years they made the Spark EV (2014, 2015, and 2016), Chevrolet managed to sell about 7,400 Spark EV’s. Most were sold in California and Oregon. Back then it was $26,000-$28,400 brand new, but today…. it’s a fraction of the cost (more on that later).
Almost all Nissan Leaf’s, Chevy Spark EV’s, Chevy Volt’s and a few others that were popular back in 2014, 2015 and 2016 are now… a FRACTION of the cost. People (such as myself) are actively looking to buy them because of their EXCELLENT value.
It may of made some sense to buy when brand new, but TODAY it makes more sense than ever before. This compact “go-cart” has made its way towards the top of the list in terms of affordable electric vehicles for everyone. If you are lucky to find the Spark EV’s with the DC fast charger options… you are holding a gem, my friend.
Chevrolet Spark EV SPECIFICATIONS
As you read the specifications below, I’ll highlight the few important differences between all three model years (2014, 2015 and 2016).
- Battery Size Difference: 2014 was the first year Chevrolet released their Spark EV. During that year only, they had a 21 kW hour battery pack which managed to give 82 miles of range. In 2015 and 2016, Chevrolet used a different supplier for batteries (LG) resulting in a more dense pack that still could squeeze out 82 miles of range but with a smaller 19 kW battery.
- Torque Number Differences: In 2014 the Spark EV managed to produce 400 ft-lbs of torque from the 21 kW battery. During the change to a smaller 19 kW battery, the figured dropped to 327 ft-lbs of torque.
- Difference in Weight: With the battery swap came the difference in weight. 2014 year models weighed almost 100 pounds heavier (2,967) compared to the 2015 and 2016 models (2,866).
- 4G LTE and WiFi: In 2015, Chevrolet begin adding the 4G LTE and WiFi functionality to the infotainment system. This was not available in the 2014 model year.
Torque (ft-lbs): 327-400
Weight: 2,866 – 2,967 lbs
Motor kW Rating: 85-100
Trim Levels: 1LT & 2LT
Used Market: $7,500-$10,500
Cargo Volume: 9.6 ft³
Battery Size: 19kW-21kW
Charge Times: 20 hrs @ 110v, 7 hrs @ 220v, 30 min @ 440v
Range: 82 miles
Top Speed: 89 mph
0-60mph: 7.0 seconds
Chevrolet Spark EV's Closest Competitors
The Spark EV has a surprising number of competitors. The four I’ve mentioned below come closes in terms of price and range. Have a look:
2012-2016 Ford Focus Electric
While mostly a compliance car, the Ford Focus Electric (much like the Spark EV) has comparable stats. Check them out below:
- Battery Capacity: 50.0kW
- Fuel Type: Electric
- Electric Range: 240 miles
- Charge Times: 64 hrs @ 110-120v and 7.25 hrs @ 220-240v and 0.50 hrs @ 440v
- Used Values: $39,500-$49,000 (new)
- Drivetrain: RWD
2015-2017 Kia Soul EV
The one with the MOST range and seating capacity, the Soul EV has much in common with the spark. Check out below to know exactly what:
- Battery Capacity: 64.0kW
- Fuel Type: Electric
- Electric Range: 258 miles
- Charge Times: 60 hrs @ 110-120v and 10.0 hrs @ 220-240v and 1.25 hrs @ 440v
- Used Values: $37,000-$46,000 (new)
- Drivetrain: FWD
2015-2016 Volkswagen eGolf
One of the best value EV’s on the market, the eGolf has almost identical technical specs. Find out below:
- Battery Capacity: 62.0kW
- Fuel Type: Electric
- Electric Range: 226 miles
- Charge Times: 48 hrs @ 110-120v and 9.5 hrs @ 220-240v and 0.50 hrs @ 440v
- Used Values: $38,510 (new)
- Drivetrain: FWD
2011-2015 Nissan Leaf
One of the most popular EV’s on the market today. The Leaf from the 1st gen has a lot in common. Have a look below:
- Battery Capacity: 40.0kW
- Fuel Type: Electric
- Electric Range: 151 miles
- Charge Times: 30 hrs @ 110-120v and 6.0 hrs @ 220-240v and 0.50 hrs @ 440v
- Used Values: $23,000-$31,000
- Drivetrain: FWD
Conclusion for 2014, 2015, and 2016 Model Years
During the first you Spark EV made it on the market, it was against a few competitors that were clearly in more expensive territory. It had identical range as the Mercedes B-Class that cost more than $40K, just behind by a mere 3 miles.
On the flip side the BMW i3 was priced accoding to BMW pricing… yet the Spark EV managed to get 10 miles more per charge, despite the battery size difference.
If you were to go and buy those vehicles today, the Spark EV takes the win for being: DC Fast Charge capable, priced more favorably and seating 4 people in total.
In 2015 the competition got tougher and there were more cars that were priced in similar MSRP range, in addition to seating 4+ people and higher range. The car that stood out the most was the Soul EV, it manages to get 90 miles per charge, can seat 5 people in total, can DC Fast Charge, and priced brand new was not that much more. However when we are talking about buying TODAY, the Spark EV takes an even bigger lead.
In 2016 the competition is all the same with the exception of Nissan upgrading their Leaf from 24kW to 30kW, bumping their range UP by 26 miles.
When brand new the price difference between the Leaf and Spark EV was not much, but fast-forward today and the Spark EV manages to be the BIGGEST bang for the buck.
So… What’s The Bottom Line?
You have made it this far in the guide, I congratulate you!
This was meant to be a comprehensive guide on the Chevrolet Spark EV from the time they started to manufacturing until they stopped. Here’s the bottom line about the car in case you were confused:This is considered a compact car.
Due to its small size, its meant for comfortable city driving with 1-2 people and up to 4 people if necessary. Parking is quite easy with the great visibility inside the car. It is a compliance car according to Chevrolet, but it can be much more. While most can only charge at the slow 3.3kW per hour rates, when you find the DC Fast Charge capable cars… you’ll be able to drive it longer distances, faster and more often.
Especially today, the car is one of the BEST value EV’s on the market. Tell me, which electric vehicle can get the same range of a 24kW battery vehicle with 5kW less to spare…?
The Spark EV. Pricing is in the upper four figures, with good examples costing $8,500-$9,500.