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New EV will test the range of GM’s plug-in strategy

PORTLAND, Ore. — General Motors is rolling out its newest electrified vehicle in two of the most eco-friendly states. But the newcomer will have to make its way in a market that is becoming more crowded, confusing and cutthroat.

Last month’s launch of the Chevrolet Spark EV in California and Oregon came with none of the fanfare of late 2010, when GM’s top brass rolled out the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid touting an eventual nationwide retail footprint and bold sales projections.

Stubbornly tepid demand for EVs poses a challenge to GM’s strategy of putting plug-in cars, rather than conventional hybrids, at the center of its electrification efforts. The entry of the nation’s largest automaker into the EV fray also raises the prospect of further price erosion in that niche, as more automakers vie for a seemingly limited number of buyers.

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