Car City

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Review


Eki 1, 2020
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Review

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Review 2014 Chevrolet Spark Evy we’re filming this out in the forest for one very good reason and that’s because with an Eevee range for mass-market v’s of under 100 miles and my normal filming location being 65 miles away from home I’d be able to make it there but I wouldn’t be able to make it back sorry for the video interruption but I do have
to explain what’s going to happen next

in this video you will see that I’m not
staring at the camera like I normally do I’m kind of looking off to the side and that’s because our videos are normally shot with at least two cameras unfortunately one of our cameras when we were shooting this video review had a corrupt flash card in it and we lost about half of the video files as a result some of this video is going to look a little bit odd because I’m going to be talking off to a camera that doesn’t exist because that video file doesn’t exist all the audio is there and all the video is there from a different
camera angle so I do apologize to all of

our viewers as well as General Motors in
advance the Sparky V is a very important vehicle for General Motors for one important reason by 2025 California law mandates that a full 15% of vehicles sold in California as well as seven other states that have signed on to California’s law must be zero emissions vehicles now of course this is politics and zero emissions doesn’t really mean to zero emissions and 15% doesn’t actually mean 15% there are all these different ways that they calculate that number but safe to say that a decent number of battery electric vehicles gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles that have a plugs you can plug them into the wall and charge that battery up at home as well as hydrogen vehicles must be sold by that 2025 date which is why
you’re seeing so many electric vehicles

out on the roads especially if you’re in
Los Angeles or in the San Francisco Bay Area although the Chevy spark is relatively new to the United States it’s been sold in the gasoline only form in the US for about a year or so it’s been around in the world for a decent amount of time it’s designed and manufactured by General Motors Korea formerly known as Daewoo for electrification purposes what they really do with the vehicle is just add a battery pack right back here in the back and then they insert a GM designed electric motor and control system up front that is important to keep in mind because this vehicle was completely engineered by General Motors for this application so it’s not like something along the lines of a tow to rav4 evey where they just buy an

electric motor and battery pack from

Tesla and then insert it in a regular old route for or some of the other conversions for their borrowing parts from other vehicles this was specifically designed for the spark right here we have a front end that’s sort of inspired by the Chevy Volt the big thing to know up here is unlike the Chevy Volt we have no air intakes right here or right here so these are just decorative pieces the silver shield right here and the silver shield right here the only part of this grill that actually acts as a grill is right down here at the bottom and that’s because electric motors don’t get terribly hot compared to gasoline engines so the cooling requirements are much much lower the Chevy spark looks a little bit cartoonish perhaps a little bit caricatured on the front end that seems to be something that’s difficult to get away from when you design a small

car even the Fiat 500e looks a little

bit cartoonish up front although I think it’s a bit more attractive than the Chevy spark one thing is obvious from the sideview the spark evey is not a terribly big vehicle well this is bigger than a Fiat 500e and we most importantly have four doors this is a decent amount smaller than a Nissan Leaf and it’s also a little bit smaller than a Honda Fit evie the hata fit Eevee is leased only so I’m not going to be focusing too much on it in this video however out back there isn’t too much difference between the regular spark and the spark Eevee other than this little Eevee badge right here lack of an exhaust tip and some mild Aero treatment right there under the bumper to improve fuel economy overall I found the sparks front seats to be the least comfortable in this immediate set of competition there are a
few reasons for that first off the

leather at seat covers don’t breathe

terribly well which is important in the vehicle where you don’t want to use the air conditioning too much because that eats up your battery life we also don’t have a whole lot of lumbar support going on in the seat design or a very wide range of adjustability you don’t find electric seats in most V’s because they do consume power and they add weight to the vehicle but I still would have appreciated a bit more seat adjustability range we also have a steering column that only tilts it does not telescope so it is a little bit harder to find that ideal driving position one nice touch is that the instrument cluster does raise and lower when you tilt the steering wheel you can see right there in the side the sparks rear seats are more comfortable than you might assume as long as you put these headrests in their most upright position if you leave them down they do hit you in a strange place in the back I’m six
feet tall and the headrest is hitting me

in just about the right spot it could be
a little bit higher for my tastes but we do have a decent amount of legroom back here the spread seats adjusted for me at 6 feet tall do have about an inch of legroom left there is a bit of give in that seat back as well wait a six foot five passenger who had no problem sitting in this front passenger seat and again if I lift this headrest up you can see that my knees are pretty close to that seat but this is definitely doable for a lunch trip at work most importantly there aren’t five seats in the Sparkie V so this right here is just a single cup holder and a little tiny storage compartment not a whole lot of seating room going on in the spark when you compare it to
something like a Nissan Leaf but this

does fit people far more comfortably
than a Fiat 500e let’s take a quick look around the inside before we go out on the road we do have height adjustable seatbelts for the driver and front passenger again these are the leatherette seats which is a nice way of saying vinyl they do not breathe as well as leather or as well as the cloth seats available also in the spark they’ve hard plastics on the door as well as over on the dashboard remember that electric vehicles are often built to await not necessarily to a price although this is based on a compact car which is built to a price so they happen to be a synergy right they’re hard plastic dashboard hard plastic painted body colored trim right they’re hard plastic right they’re decently sized glovebox right there for an electric vehicle moving over to the dashboard we have two vents right there passenger airbag warning right there down here we have our standard touchscreen radio this is standard on both versions of the spark evie we’ll go over more of that in a separate video along with the AV screens which are controlled by this little button right here power button because all spark V’s are keyless go they’re not keyless entry so you still have to use that key to unlock the doors but there are key let’s go because we’re based on a regular old
gasoline spark they still have the

cutout right there where the key would
go single zone automatic climate control is standard on all spark v’s this temp button right here allows you to turn off the temperature control in the system so that’s how you get just regular old vent air from the outside as you turn that off you don’t change the temperature with that knob remember Eevee’s have to heat and cool the air and heating takes an awful lot more energy than cooling air strangely enough so you’re going to get your lowest range in the dead of winter when you’re heating the cabin and it’s really cold outside Auto button right there mode cycles through your various air outputs fan control button right there and then we have recirculate here the system will automatically recirculate for maximum efficiency down here we have heated seat buttons because again heating a cabin requires an awful lot of energy so it’s cheaper to heat the seat then heat the cabin we have our single USB input for that system storage bin right there two fairly large cup holders and in batteries going on right there a more traditional shifter than you’ll find and the number of Eevee is right here it’s nothing funky going on

electric parking brake we have a sport

mode doesn’t really seem to change the behavior of the vehicle too much and then we have our traction control off button one word on the shifter is what we have it in low what the system does is it increases the regenerative braking ability of the system so it’s it’s really cranking up that regenerative braking almost to the maximum so if you’re in stop-and-go traffic you can use low to recapture as much energy as possible rather than using the friction brakes although that does mean that your brake light is not going to be turning on when you’re slowing down right back here we have a 12 volt power outlet it’s a second one in the vehicle that other one is right up there by the USB port another storage cuppy and then a single cup holder for the rear ii cup holder for the rear passengers is right back there between the two rear seats the e v version of spark gets this digital instrument cluster instead of the regular analog one that the gasoline spark gets and it is available in a few different layouts so right here we have our maximum range at 110 minimum range
at 73 and it tells you what the most

likely range is going to be and it’s 92
right now and then we can switch that to a regular battery meter on the other side you’ll see that we’re switching between that acceleration deceleration ball that we first saw in the Chevy Volt to a screen that actually shows you numerically how many kilowatt hours you’re consuming we’re sorry how many kilowatts you’re consuming right down here we have a trip computer and then that is cycling through a few different screens we have tire pressure vehicle messages units you can change that to metric the information screen which i think is a little bit useless and then if you are using the OnStar navigation this will give you OnStar navigation route directions right there we do have standard OnStar in the Sparky V but if you’re using the bring go navigation in that head unit that’s right there in the center of the dashboard it will not show you display navigation instructions right there if we move out from there you’ll see that we are in the 2lt model which has the nice leather wrap steering wheel this actually is a great steering wheel it’s nice soft leather feels nice to hold
your cruise control buttons over here

radio buttons over here with our volume
buttons right down there over here you’ll find the controls for that multi information display right there and you can see if I hit the config button you can see things change on an instrument cluster power mirror controls right there under the hood is where we find the sparks party trick and I’m not talking about this cover right here that implies we have a rear wheel drive engine layout going on in the spark I’m talking about the fact that this motor delivers 140 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque and most Evie companies limit the amount of torque that their motors produce because it does give you some torque steer and some other feelings going on there when you’re out on the road not to mention eating through your battery life pretty quick but GM decided not to limit their motor in that way which means we get an awful lot more shove then you can get in a Nissan Leaf or a fit Evy or that Fiat 500e in fact this is one of the most powerful V’s out of the market when you exclude Tesla’s let’s talk charging for a minute because this is an area where
people get a little bit confused when it

comes to electric vehicles this thing
that I’m holding in my hand right now is not an electric vehicle charger this is an electric vehicle supply equipment or EVs II and that’s because the charger is built into the electric vehicle and all this really is is an over glorified smart extension cord that simply provides power to the onboard charger inside the Evi now this vehicle uses a 3.3 kilowatt hour charger which is one of these smaller chargers available right now vehicles like the Fiat 500e as well as most Nissan Leaf models that are out there in the world use a six point six kilowatt hour charger which charges the battery twice as fast on 240 volts AC this one right here is a 110 volt evse and so this only provides power at a rate of about kilowatt an hour or so just about there depending on what you have the vehicle set to because this vehicle will charge at either eight amps drawn from this cord or 12 amps so it really depends on how the car is set as far as what this will supply that means that you can charge this vehicle from completely empty to full in under 24 hours with this hundred and 10 volt cord or if you plug in a 240 volt cord to it you can charge it in seven to eight hours the 240 volt cord would be available at most public charging stations and you can have one built into your home for between 500 and a thousand dollars plus the installation and electrician charges
new for 2014 is the world’s first DC

combo charger that follows the new SAE

specification up until now Nissan and Mitsubishi have been using the Chatham o standard which is a Japanese standard they’re the only two manufacturers that have signed on to that it uses a larger but separate plug on the front end of those Nissan Leafs the difference is that this standard doesn’t exist yet there’s only one DC quick charge station that uses this plug right here it’s in San Diego so it’s nowhere near me the other thing is this vehicle doesn’t actually have the DC charge port you can see where it would be right here in this charging socket it’s this oval portion at the bottom below the area where this plug plugs in right there that’s where the DC pins would be if this vehicle was so equipped we’re told that later model vehicles will have that option it’s going to be a few hundred dollars from the factory DC quick charge Phillips in the spark evie are going to be relatively similar to the Nissan Leaf we’re told you can go from 20% to 80% charge in about 30 minutes or so with that DC quick charge station again there’s only one in the United States right now but we expect to see a great deal more because BMW General Motors and Ford have all signed on to this new DC quick charge standard importantly the Fiat 500e does not have a DC quick charge port so well it does charge faster using a 240 volt version of this plug right here you do not have the option of visiting a DC quick chart station to get a quick boost like you do in the Nissan Leaf or in this Sparky V
when those stations are available the

sparks battery pack is located right

back here in the area where the traditional Sparks gas tank would normally go it also occupies a little bit of interior cargo room but most importantly it doesn’t take up any passenger foot room or any passenger area like the Fiat 500e does Fiat 500e has about a three-inch reduction in rear passenger foot room because of the battery pack positioned right down there now this pack has a usable capacity of about 20 kilowatt hours which is good according to the EPA for 82 miles of actual range 82 miles is about the same range as a Honda Fit evey which is a little bit shorter than the Fiat 500 s 87 mile range most importantly however this is about 10% improvement over the Nissan Leaf and that all comes down to efficiency because this battery pack at 20 kilowatt hours has a smaller rated capacity than the Nissan Leafs 24 kilowatt hour battery but the vehicle can go further because it’s more efficient thanks to efficient packaging as well as efficient cooling system that’s built into this battery the battery heats and cools itself to try and prolong its life we do have a decent amount of storage space left even though this is as I said a little bit reduced versus the gasoline spark this is the largest roller bag you can carry on a domestic flight you can’t fit it in the trunk in a variety of ways you can fit it up right there or you can
fit it flat you can’t fit multiple bags

like this in the spark however you can

fold these rear seats down to improve the cargo room but let’s take a look at it now for our trunk comfort score it is a little bit tricky to get in here and it’s pretty difficult to close the lid actually I think it’s impossible to close the lid really on myself one thing that I do like however is the fact that this hatch has a handle on there so it’s a lot easier to hit yourself on the head with the glass General Motors has made a very big point of saying that the spark evie produces more torque than a Ferrari 458 Italia one important thing to note however is that Ferrari was sending its power to the back wheels and this vehicle sending its power to the front wheels so it’s absolutely hilarious having this much power in this much torque in a front wheel drive vehicle there’s a decent amount of torque steer at pretty much any speed with this vehicle because an electric motor can deliver all that torque instantly all that power makes the Sparky V an awful lot more fun and an awful lot faster than the regular old Chevy spark we scored zero to 60 in a hair over seven seconds in the Sparky V which means this is the fastest mass-market evie we’ve tested so far this is faster than the rav4 evie it’s also faster than the Fiat 500e the Nissan Leaf it’s about a full second faster than that Nissan Leaf it’s awful lot of fun out on the road because
the chassis actually handles very well

General Motors installed fairly wide

tires on the Sparkie V and strangely enough they’re wider in the back than they are in the front to help compensate for that additional battery weight in the back of the spark IV but still have that same Chevy spark handling this thing really handles incredibly well when you compare it to the Fiat 500e especially because the Fiat 500e has mount of additional weight versus the regular old Fiat 500 and they didn’t do that same trick with the tires and thanks to the low rolling resistance tires in that 500 e just doesn’t hug the corners as well as the Sparky V people that I had on the spark were surprised that it rode and handled as well as it does the ride on the spark is a little bit firm but it’s not as bad as you might think it’s slightly more polished than you get in the regular spark because of the added weight of the battery and the slightly better balance going on in the spark helps the vehicle ride like a slightly larger vehicle this is still a compact car so you still get the fairly small turning radius you also get a fairly short wheelbase which means that depending on the road hump you can get a little bit of an uneven behavior and the suspension you can’t feel like you’re bouncing on a washboard occasionally but that’s really no different than the Fiat 500e now the Nissan Leaf thanks to its design and slightly floaty air suspension does feel a little bit softer out on the road but it doesn’t handle as well it does lean an awful lot more than the Sparky V in the corners the fact that I’m talking about performance and handling should really tell you something about the Sparky V most community cars aren’t really about having fun but the Sparky V
is that kind of vehicle you can commute

in and you can also have fun on winding
mountain road if you so desire do keep in mind that having that fun on the winding Mountain Road will severely reduce your range we have been averaging about four point six miles per kilowatt-hour in this vehicle which is the most efficient evie that I’ve had so far I know this ranks right in there with the Honda Fit Evy the Scion iQ Evy as well as the Fiat 500e V but all of those vehicles actually scored less in terms of electric economy out on the road in the real world and that’s something where this spark really excels this is most notably about a full mile longer than you can get in a Nissan Leaf per kilowatt hours that Nissan Leaf is about 25 percent less efficient in real world driving i tribute some of that to just the leaf being the first out of the market and this being the most recent it’s not all roses in the Sparky Vee however the brakes in the spark they really are fairly uninspiring they they’re kind of spongy and the transition between regenerative braking and friction braking is a little bit peculiar I don’t really care for it also if you’re charged up and then you immediately start going downhill you can really see what those friction brakes are like where you can always put it in neutral if you want to experiment but the friction brakes have a fairly strange feel to them as well they’re a little bit mushy and they’re a little bit grabby at the top and – not not the best brakes in this segment and certainly not the best integration between regenerative braking as well as friction braking that’s not to say they’re the worst brakes in the world they do have a much better feel to them than the first generations of the Honda Civic Hybrid which really felt peculiar when it was

transitioning between friction braking
and regenerative braking but this isn’t as smooth as the modern generation of hybrids or some of those other EVs out on the market before we wrap up I’d like to address one thing that people seem to get a little confused about EVs and that’s regenerative braking and its efficiency I live at about a thousand feet and I have to go up and over a twenty two hundred foot mountain pass to get to work and it’s about a fifty five mile trip or so now after that twenty two hundred foot mountain pass things plunge pretty sharply right down to sea level and a lot of people assume that you would just recover all the energy from climbing the 1,100 or 1,200 feet up to the top on your way back down and that’s just not true it took about one point four to one point five kilowatt hours driving the vehicle very gently to get up to that twenty two hundred foot mountain pass but on the way down I only regenerated about 4/10 of a kilowatt hour so it still cost me one kilowatt hour to get up that hill now admittedly going down that down side of the hill I didn’t really expend any power I actually gained power for that about five miles

or so from 2200 feet down to sea level

but still won’t net you the same amount
that it took you to get up the hill so that is very important to keep in mind when it comes to range range is very dependent on Hills like that because that severely severely affects your fuel economy when I’m going on my way to work going up that that 1,100 feet and then down the 2200 feet I have reached about five to five point one miles per kilowatt-hour if I was driving it very gently but even driving it very gently on my way home the best I was able to average was a total of about four point one to four point four kilowatt hours leaving my entire week with about four point five to four point six kilowatt hours so if you’re in flatland you should expect even better economy out of the spark evie but if you’re living in hilly areas then be sure that your range is appropriate because you really can’t do a 75 mile journey in the spark if a lot of hills are involved it’s going to be more like 50 to 60 miles if I can pontificate for just one last moment another thing to keep in mind about buying an Eevee is you need to know about where your power is coming from especially if you’re buying an Eevee for environmental reasons if you’re buying an Eevee in a state like Washington Oregon California and New York then it’s likely going to be cleaner than your average Prius out on the road however if you’re buying your electric vehicle in a state like Colorado which is very cold heavy where
other states in the US where they use an

awful lot of coal or an awful lot of oil
etc in order to create power then typically you’re better off driving a Prius because your actual emissions are going to be lower on that Prius then the total emissions related to that battery electric vehicle of course that’s excluding the cost of actually creating the batteries in any environmental harm and created batteries and shipping vehicles around etc I’m really avoiding that discussion because there are many many different opinions on how big of an impact that really is so I’m just talking about the actual operation of the vehicle and the overall emissions well the vehicle is operating you really need to look into where your power comes from if you have solar panels on your roof something along those lines then you’re probably going to be okay but it is something you need to keep in mind gentle martyr’s has priced the spark easy very aggressively for 2014 things start out at twenty six thousand six hundred eighty five dollars for the 1lt model the 2lt model that we’ve been

seeing here is twenty seven thousand ten

dollars the reason there’s so little difference between those two pricings is because there’s very little difference between the two models we get different wheels we had a leather wrap steering wheel and we get leatherette seats in the 2lt model which is a fancy word for vinyl and that’s pretty much the only difference between those two models you can lease this for $1.99 at the moment according to General Motors which is about the same as you can lease a Fiat 500e or a Nissan Leaf for the down payment required on that Nissan Leaf lease is a little bit higher than what you have to pay on the spark evie lease at the moment the Sparky the lease is
relatively similar to the Fiat 500 lease

why do I keep talking about leasing and
not buying well that’s because an awful lot of evie purchases seemed to be leases these days and all the good deals seem to be on those lease deals again because they need to get people into these vehicles in order to get that 15 percent sales requirement in order to meet California state law lease deals may be a good
thing for some Evo shoppers because if

you lease your evie then you don’t have to worry about what happens to the battery pack after your three year lease is up you don’t have to worry about if that battery pack only has 80% of its life left or 60% of its life left etc you just send it back to the manufacturer and then you get another one if you do want to buy your Eevee then the Nissan Leaf does cost a decent amount more than the Chevy spark it’s about three grand more or so depending on the feature content if you want it relatively similarly featured then it’s going to be more about four or five thousand dollar increase over this vehicle even the Fiat 500e is more expensive than this and the Honda Fit Eevee is lease only at the moment this brings me very neatly to the question of would I buy a spark Eevee no I probably wouldn’t but I might least want if I was really interested in getting in that carpooling you can look at these modern crop of EVs especially in California.

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