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Fighting Range Anxiety in the Electric 2014 Chevrolet Spark

‘It’s a rocket,” said Dave Barthmuss, GM’s Western Region PR Manager, when I took delivery of the new 2014 Chevy Spark EV for a four-day test drive in Southern California.

Able to reach 0 to 60 mph in less than 7.6 seconds, all on pure battery electric power, Barthmuss was right about the spritely performance of the electric Spark: That’s pretty good performance for an electric car. Based on the Beat, one of GM’s global triplet concept cars unveiled at the 2007 New York International Auto Show and designed at the automaker’s Korean design studio, the four-passenger Spark EV has a top speed of 90 mph and boasts 105 kilowatts (140 horsepower) of electric drive power. Not that speed was my primary interest when I took delivery however, but speed and quick pick-up did come in handy when I wanted to change lanes or merge in front of that driver talking on his cell phone while driving 75 mph in a gas-guzzling SUV on LA’s tightly packed 101 and 405 highways. But I digress.

2014-Chevrolet-SparkEV-009-mediumNo, my primary interest was range — how far could I get on a single charge, how easy would it be to charge on the road, and how much fun (or stressful) would it be to drive?

With a 21-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Spark EV lists an EPA electric-only range of 82 miles, but I was regularly getting 96-98 miles on a full charge. Achieving that on the first day, though, did take some time as the vehicle arrived to me with 45 miles left on the battery. Knowing how much range I had left on a charge was as easy as looking at the 7-inch color touch screen in front of the steering wheel that is standard equipment as part of Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system, a useful connectivity feature to help keep your eyes on the road and distractions at bay.
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