Electric motor and $50 navigation wash away sins of the gas version
5/30/14 6:49 am chumakdenis 1
Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4.5 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design, and high quality.
Of course, Chevrolet Spark is not exclusion from the rules and it combines all these features too, but what is so special in it?
Well, Chevy Spark is the first all-electric mini car and most efficient retail EV in the U.S. and it's really fun to drive this car.But let's figure out more.
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV is a pure electric urban mini-car designed for fun driving and easy ownership. It uses no gasoline, yet its GM-built motor and drive unit deliver 400 lb.-ft. (542 Nm) of instant torque, a top speed of 90 mph and a 0-60 time of less than eight seconds.
Storing that energy from the charging process and the vehicle’s regenerative braking capability is a 21-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. When fully charged, Spark EV features a combined city/highway EPA-estimated range of 82 miles and an EPA-estimated city/highway 119 MPGe fuel economy equivalent, making it the most efficient U.S. retail electric vehicle on the market.
For city dwellers whose transportation needs can be met with an all-electric vehicle, Spark EV builds on Chevrolet’s proven electric motor and battery development programs for the Chevrolet Volt and its full-size truck and SUV hybrid programs.
Three available levels of recharging capability include the industry’s first use of the recently approved SAE combo charger for DC fast charging, which charges 80 percent of the battery in just 20 minutes. Aero refinements, unique wheels and tires and active shutter system on the grille opening help extend the Spark EV’s range.
Inside, the standard Chevrolet MyLink Infotainment system provides a seven-inch color touch-screen that shows critical vehicle EV functions and connects with owners’ smartphones for infotainment that includes apps for Pandora, Stitcher, TuneIn global internet radio and BringGo full-function navigation (requires smartphone app purchase). For those with compatible iPhones, the system brings the Siri Personal Assistant into the car.
Other standard technologies, such as remote start/cabin pre-conditioning, heated driver and front passenger seats, push-button start and OnStar are practically unheard of in the mini-car segment.
“The Chevrolet Spark EV is a great city car that blends technology, functionality and style in an unexpected package,” said Cristi Landy, director of Chevrolet small and electrified vehicle marketing. “We built on the success of the Volt and the gasoline-powered Spark to offer an affordable, fun and efficient mini car our customers will love to drive.”
Engineers worked really hard
GM engineers have completed more than one million miles and four million hours of validation on the battery packs in the Spark EV. Comprehensive warranty coverage includes a three-year/36,000-mile warranty, eight-year/100,000-mile drive battery warranty, five-year/100,000-mile transferrable powertrain warranty that includes emergency roadside assistance and courtesy transportation, and a six-year/100,000-mile rust-through warranty.
The four-passenger, five-door Spark EV is generously equipped and available in 1LT and 2LT trim levels.
Designed with efficiency in mind
At a glance, Spark EV looks like its gasoline-powered counterpart, but engineers made small yet important changes to the Spark EV exterior for aerodynamic, range-extending improvements. They include:
Unique chrome upper two-tier grille is closed to reduce airflow Electric charge portal over the driver’s side front wheel well Underbody panels, tire air deflectors and aero-optimized exterior mirrors Unique 15-inch aluminum wheels and low rolling resistance tires Active shutter system controls airflow through the lower intake opening Rocker system is lower and wider to increase tire coverage for improved aerodynamics Rear diffusers optimize airflow under the vehicle Unique roof-extending rear spoiler.
Combined, all of these refinements help contribute to Spark EV’s 82 miles (130 km) of range and its impressive 0.326 coefficient of drag.
Spark EV colors include Electric Blue, Silver Ice, Black Granite, Summit White and Titanium.
Designers focused on creating an environment that is harmonious, uninterrupted, flowing and inviting to the senses. With 86.3 cu. ft. (2,444 L) of passenger volume and 9.6 cu. ft. (272 L) of cargo volume, Spark EV is one of the largest vehicles in the segment.
Storage options include a center console bin, door pocket bottle holders, a passenger IP storage tray and four cup holders, two each in the front and rear. Cloth seats are standard and leatherette-trimmed seats are available.
The dramatic, customizable instrument cluster/Driver Information Center helps drivers get the most out of their EV experience. The cluster includes:
Seven-inch full-color LCD display screen that provides digital and graphic feedback Efficiency gauge for the propulsion battery power Digital speedometer Confidence gauge for remaining EV range shows real-time expected driving range based on driving style and other conditions Trip computer.
The integrated center stack adds a second seven-inch, full-color touch-screen that includes the infotainment display, audio and climate controls, heated seat controls, USB, power outlet, defogger button and StabiliTrak/traction control on/off button. All knobs feature LED lighting for improved visibility and access.
In the center console, an open storage area near the USB port provides a convenient location for a cell phone or portable music player. The Sport driving mode switch is located in front of the shift lever.
Two Spark EV interior colors – Electric Blue and Dark Pewter – are available with all five exterior colors.
Standard and available features
Spark 1LT is generously equipped and includes these and other standard features:
120V onboard charger 240V charging capability Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and regenerative braking Six speakers Fifteen-inch aluminum wheels Ten standard air bags Air conditioning Bluetooth capability Center stack-mounted seven-inch color touch-screen display Chevrolet MyLink, USB port, auxiliary input jack Chrome liftgate handle Seven-inch color Driver Information Center display Cruise control Electric parking brake Heated driver and front passenger cloth seats Power locks and windows Remote keyless entry Remote start/passenger compartment pre-conditioning Steering wheel-mounted controls SiriusXM Satellite Radio (three-month trial period)
Spark 2LT includes 1LT standard content plus heated leatherette driver and front passenger seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Available on both models is the SAE combo charger for DC fast charging. It recharges the battery to 80-percent capacity in 20 minutes.
Chevrolet MyLink connectivity gets personal
MyLink is standard on all Spark EV models, and was designed to provide Spark EV customers with the ability to view their EV performance and personalize their infotainment delivery.
MyLink for Spark EV consists of a seven-inch diagonal touch screen, AM/FM/SiriusXM Satellite Radio (with three months of service) stereo with seek-and-scan, digital clock, Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phones, voice recognition for compatible smartphones and six speakers.
EV-related information is accessed through a menu icon and includes an animated power-flow graphic, an energy information screen and access to screens that allow the driver to program charging preferences.
For infotainment, MyLink operates by integrating the owner’s compatible smartphone and stored media – via Bluetooth, plug-in outlet or USB – with the radio. That lets owners enjoy simple, safe and personalized connectivity while their smartphone is stowed. It also makes it easy to accommodate new apps.
MyLink is simple to use: the owner selects from menu options on the touch screen: Audio, Pictures & Movies, Telephone, Smartphone Link and Settings. Each menu selection takes the user though a list of easy-to-select functions.
MyLink also includes compatibility with Siri for customers with a compatible iPhone running iOS6, as well as apps for BringGo in-dash navigation (requires smartphone app purchase) and TuneIn, which provides access to 70,000 global radio stations, Pandora and Stitcher Smart Radio.
In MyLink-equipped Spark EVs, owners can use Siri in Eyes Free mode to:
Make voice-activated, hands-free calls to Contacts on their iPhone Play songs in the iTunes library, and even switch music sources automatically from AM/FM/XM radio to iPod mode Listen to, and compose and send an iMessage or text message to a phone number or anyone in saved Contacts Access Calendar and add appointments Minimize distraction even more by keeping the screen of the iPhone from lighting up, even when Siri answers simple questions such as game scores or the dates of national holidays While in Eyes Free mode, Siri will not provide answers to complex questions that require displaying a web page.
The available BringGo app provides full-function, in-dash navigation via MyLink, as well as live traffic updates, for less than $60. It also includes:
Emergency information such as police, fire and the nearest hospital Thousands of points of interest Local Search via Google Where am I ? locator Live traffic functionality provides crash reports and lane closures, and with alternative routes 3-D maps Ability to store native maps to the customer’s smartphone, giving them access to locations and turn-by-turn directions even when phone signal quality is poor. Many GPS-enabled apps do not do this Available for download on iTunes or Googleplay for compatible smartphones.
The TuneIn app connects Spark EV customers to live local, international and Internet radio. Users can search for programming by location, genre, sports team name, station type or call sign.
BrinGo smartphone navigation
Give General Motors and Chevrolet credit - lots of credit - for a thoughtful center stack and navigation design. Every Spark EV includes a 7-inch touchscreen and MyLink music control (like Ford Sync), the better to show off the motor/battery efficiency possibilities on the screen.
More importantly, the Spark version of MyLink allows you to use navigation from your smartphone. So far, there’s only one choice, a brand you’ve never heard of, BringGo (formerly GoGo Link) from Korea’s Engis Technologies, and it costs $50. It works with iPhone or Android. I drove the larger Chevrolet Sonic a year ago with BringGo and was unimpressed with the execution. Basically, it was a great concept, with a so-so interface and hard-to-read maps, but it got you to your destination.
The current version is improved and if it’s not enough to knock out Google Maps or Navigon in a head-to-head, it’s good enough and can only get better with future upgrades, which will be free. Compare that to $1000 navigation systems that charge $100-$200 for map updates.
GM is the one automaker to recognize a simple truth: The market for $500-$1000 built-in navigation in a sub-$20,000 car is nil. Other automakers do nothing, which cedes the market to Garmins and TomToms stuck on the windshield, or a smartphone with navigation sliding around on the center console or maybe hanging on a windshield mount. But then most automakers are still in a quandary whether to kill the CD player and make USB standard.
Chevrolet still has a ways to go with infotainment. Navigation is buried one layer down in Apps, along with Pandora, Stitcher, TuneIn, and other smartphone apps. With most cars, you press one button to go from entertainment to navigation. Here, you have to go to the menu and then the Apps tab onscreen, press that, then press the Navigation button. It takes longer to read the sentence than perform the task, but on a rough road, and remember this is not a Cadillac XTS with pillow-soft ride, the nav screen, like the car, bounces around. Also the volume controls are up-down buttons and no way is that as quick to adjust as a simple dial.
Chevrolet was the first automaker to offer Siri Eyes Free and its first implementation was the Spark. Eyes Free lets you interact with an Apple iOS device from your car. Press the talk button on the steering wheel and tell Siri what you want to do. The driver or passenger can make a phone call, get calendar information, create text messages, or play songs from iTunes. It’s voice-only interaction, nothing is displayed on the iPhone screen, and other apps are also locked out. This may be more of a lockdown than some drivers want. Some apps can’t be fully accessed by Siri (no info shows on the cars’s LCD) unless you disconnect the phone from the car.
Power, performance and recharging
Spark EV is powered by an advanced electric motor and battery system that give it a top speed of 90 mph and an EPA-estimated 82 miles of driving range, all the while achieving an EPA-estimated 119 combined city/highway MPGe fuel economy equivalent. All Spark EV models also feature a smooth, single-speed automatic transmission.
Spark EV owners can choose from two driving modes to meet their needs using a switch on the center console near the shift lever.
Normal Mode – The default mode, it maximizes driving efficiency.
Sport Mode – Provides a sportier driving experience with more responsive acceleration, but can reduce efficiency.
Chevrolet engineers used their experience on the Volt and two-mode hybrids (Silverado and Tahoe) to design the Spark EV system. More than 75 percent of the propulsion components on the Spark EV are from these programs.
The heart of the Spark EV’s propulsion system is its electric drive unit, manufactured by GM at its White Marsh, Md. facility. It is the first time a major U.S. auto manufacturer has designed and built both a complete electric motor and drive unit for a modern EV in the U.S.
Spark EV’s electric drive unit produces 105 kW and 140 horsepower, and 400 lb.-ft. (542 Nm) of torque, for more acceleration power than some high-end sports cars.
Encased in a strong composite material case and positioned below the load floor over the rear axle, the Spark EV’s 21-kWh lithium-ion battery is designed to deliver value, safety, quality, performance, durability and reliability.
A liquid thermal management system cools and heats the battery for a long life, and it is backed by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Owners can choose three levels of recharging for the Spark EV:
AC 120V charging – A 120V onboard charger and charge cord are standard. Plug in the cord into a conventional household outlet and the Spark EV is fully charged in less than 17 hours.
AC 240V charging – This requires a dedicated 240V charging station and reduces recharging time to less than seven hours.
DC fast charging – Later in the model year, buyers may select this optional feature that permits the car to be charged using an SAE combo DC fast charger, which charges the battery to 80 percent of its capacity in 20 minutes. The system also includes a remote stop charge feature that halts DC charging with the push of a button on a remote key fob.
Spark EV ride and handling
Spark EV derives much of its confident road feel and driving comfort from its stiff body frame integral construction. Sixty percent of Spark EV’s structure is made from high-strength steel that improves chassis stiffness, reduces noise, vibration and harshness and improves driving dynamics.
The independent front suspension features MacPherson struts, coil springs and direct-acting 19mm stabilizer bar. The rear suspension is a semi-independent compound crank (torsion beam) design that combines the advantages of a conventional torsion beam axle with low weight and the ability to be tuned.
The Spark EV’s brake system includes:
Four-wheel ABS Standard electronic brakeforce distribution Brake assist Hill Start Assist Electric parking brake StabiliTrak stability control Traction control.
The front brakes include an electro-hydraulic regenerative brake system that captures braking energy – normally wasted in a conventional vehicle – and transfers it to the battery system. From the vehicle’s top speed of 90 mph to approximately 10 mph, and as long as the deceleration does not exceed.3g, regenerative braking is used 100 percent of the time to slow the vehicle.
Hill Start Assist helps prevent drivers from rolling when restarting from a stopped position on a hill. It allows drivers to take their foot off the brake long enough to use the accelerator and move forward.
Designed with occupant safety in mind, Spark EV offers crash-avoidance technologies such as StabiliTrak and ABS, and helps protect occupants in the event of a crash with 10 standard air bags, including both driver and passenger front knee air bags, to reduce the risk of lower extremity injuries in frontal crashes.
Dual-stage frontal air bags, seat-mounted side air bags and side curtain air bags that extend over the front and rear seating rows are also standard. Other safety and security technologies include:
Rollover sensing system Three-point safety belts in all four seating positions Seat belt pretensioners in the front driver and passenger seats LATCH child seat attachment system Adjustable head restraints Collapsible steering column Remote keyless entry Anti-theft technology Engine immobilizer OnStar safety and security system.
Three years of OnStar Directions and Connections service is standard on Spark EV. OnStar is the global leading provider of connected safety, security and mobility solutions and advanced information technology.
OnStar’s RemoteLink Mobile App allows smartphone users to control vehicle functions, access vehicle information and send directions directly to the vehicle.
Subscribers who opt into the FamilyLink service can stay connected to loved ones by checking the location of their vehicle online or by signing up for vehicle location alerts.
OnStar services unique to Spark EV include:
Way Point Navigation – Lets Spark EV owners plan trips using OnStar’s Turn by Turn Navigation, which finds charging stations along the way and recommends when to charge based on how long it takes to reach the desired destination.
Plug-in Reminder and Low Temperature Alert – Reminds drivers via the OnStar RemoteLink app if they forget to plug in the vehicle, and alerts the driver that the vehicle needs to be plugged in during extremely low temperatures.