Sub $20,000 after incentives
We really were thinking that this would be a less than positive story. After all, this is Living LEAF, right? But after taking another look at some of the specs of the Spark EV, and considering the price point that Chevrolet chose to place on this car, we found ourselves rethinking our position.
With its $850 destination charge, the Spark EV starts at $27,495. Take the $7,500 federal incentive off the top, and it comes in just under twenty grand. In addition, some states are offering additional inducements to buy electric that can whack another few thousand off the price. To see what your state has to offer, we have provided a link for you (found here). Taking a page from Nissan’s playbook, Chevrolet will offer the Spark EV with a 36 month lease payment of $199 with $999 down. We think that the marketing group has to speak to the manufacturing group though as the lease language states that you must take delivery by July 1, 2013, and the marketing group says that the Spark EV will be available in select California and Oregon markets in late summer 2013. Ah… large corporations.
We fully expected the Spark EV to offer a more diminutive interior than it does. After all, the vehicle is almost 30 inches shorter overall than the LEAF – 146.5 inches vs. 175.0 inches. The driver gives up almost two inches of headroom to the LEAF, but the front legroom is almost identical. Rear headroom comparisons are the same, while the Spark EV measures more rear legroom, but room for only two back seat passengers. The big compromise is cargo room. The LEAF offers 24 cubic feet behind the back seat, while the Spark EV makes do with less than 10. With compromised cargo room, and seating for four, it seems that Chevrolet is choosing to primarily market the Spark EV to commuters. And as it turns out, most LEAFs are being used in that role as well.
Keeping in mind that the Spark EV is the third generation of what was originally a Daewoo platform, and based on our experience driving the gasoline powered Spark (found here), the Spark EV is expected to not quite offer the same quality level as the LEAF. More importantly, its smaller structure leads us to wonder what the government crash test ratings will show. The gasoline version which is already available has not yet been tested. The LEAF has achieved an overall 5 star NHTSA safety rating, and has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
One item of note – the quick charge system chosen by GM is the newly approved SAE combo connection. We just wrote an article (found here) about the expanding DC quick charge (DCQC) network. Nissan and Mitsubishi use the CHAdeMO connection which has a growing network in place with a commitment by Nissan to add 500 more in 18 months (found here). To our knowledge there are no SAE combo DCQC stations installed anywhere.
While we have already seen many articles proclaiming the lower price of the Smart EV, none have mentioned that it really is not a Nissan LEAF competitor although they position it as such in most articles. It is more of a Mitsubishi i-MiEV competitor, and with its lower lease payment than the Mitsu it may just be more attractive to some. Just as a Toyota Corolla is not the same as a Toyota Camry, not all EVs are created equally. Eventually the mainstream press will start to figure that out. If one is looking for a lower priced EV, the Smart EV may prove to be a reasonable choice.