As electric vehicles go, the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV is sized and priced in alignment with what makes perfectly good sense to someone who cannot afford a Tesla Model S. This tiny commuter car starts at $27,495, but tax credits can reduce that cost to less than $20,000. Alternatively, lease one for under $200 per month with less than $1,000 down.
Aerodynamic tweaks give the Spark EV a slightly different appearance compared to a standard gasoline-fired Spark, most notably in the form of a bright, shiny grille insert up front. In California, High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane stickers are another sign that this diminutive Chevy rocks an electric drivetrain.
Though it is based on the smallest and least expensive model in Chevrolet’s lineup, the Spark EV’s interior doesn’t look or feel cheap, for the most part. Sophisticated instrumentation and a standard MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen provide an appropriately futuristic look.
A Chevy Spark EV provides greater front seat comfort than you might expect, though the center armrest is mostly useless and the relentlessly plastic front door panels don’t provide a comfortable spot for elbows.
Four adults can squeeze into the Spark EV, though taller rear seat occupants are not going to be very happy. Fortunately, they can simply wrap their legs around the soft front seatbacks for shorter trips.
Chevrolet says the Spark EV supplies 9.6 cu.-ft. of cargo space behind the rear seat, though that’s measured to the ceiling. In terms of practical space, there’s not much more than a Miata. Fold the rear seats, and the cargo area grows to 23.4 cu.-ft., but the surface isn’t flat.
The Spark EV is equipped with an electric motor that makes 140 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. Maximum power output is available the moment the driver steps on the accelerator pedal, producing 60 mph in fewer than eight seconds. The EPA gives the Spark EV an efficiency rating of 119 MPGe in combined driving.
Too new to have been rated for reliability, the Spark gets a quality rating of better than average by J.D. Power. Don’t worry too much about how long the Spark EV’s electric motor and battery pack will last, because Chevrolet provides an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty for the Spark EV’s powertrain.
Significantly heavier than a standard Spark, the Spark EV has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). A standard Spark is the only car in its class to receive a “Top Safety Pick” rating from the IIHS.
Every Spark EV is equipped with 10 airbags and three free years of OnStar service including Automatic Crash Response, Crisis Assist, and Emergency Services.
Few options are offered for a Chevy Spark EV. Upgrading to the 2LT trim level adds leatherette seat coverings and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and Chevrolet offers an SAE combination charger for use with DC Fast Charger stations.
Chevrolet MyLink technology is standard equipment, making it easy to pair a smartphone, run applications, access Internet and global radio stations, and more. Got an iPhone? You’ll appreciate the Siri Eyes Free technology. Navigation costs just $60, which is what it takes to purchase the BringGo app to run via MyLink.
A 21-kW lithium-ion battery pack is the main reason a Spark EV weighs 730 pounds more than a regular Spark. It supplies an approximate driving range of 82 miles, and when using a 240-volt home charging station, recharges in less than seven hours. Use a standard household electrical outlet, and it takes almost 17 hours to accomplish the same task, while a DC Fast Charger gets the job done in about half an hour.
To charge the Spark EV, plug the charging cord into the car’s left front charging port, and then connect to an electricity source. A green light glows on the dashboard when the car is charging.
People considering a Spark EV are likely cross-shopping a Fiat 500e and a Smart ForTwo Electric, neither of which is quite as practical, or a Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which can’t match the Spark’s range and sophistication. Other alternatives include the Ford Focus Electric, the Honda Fit EV, and the Nissan Leaf.
Lease a Spark EV, and you’ll save thousands of dollars over the course of the 3-year contract compared to one that feeds on gasoline. True, this is not a long-distance car, designed specifically for commuting and running local errands, but if you were planning to get a regular Spark for any other purpose you might want to re-think that plan and get a used car instead.
Chevrolet provided the 2014 Spark EV for this photo gallery
2014 Chevy Spark EV photos by Christian Wardlaw