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I am now the proud owner of my first electric car - the newly released 2014 Chevy Spark EV.  And yes, the car featured at the preceding link looks exactly like the one I got.  I think the blue is close to a Carolina or UCLA blue with metallic sparkles.

It's an electrified version of the gasoline powered Spark which has been sold in the US for 3 years.  The Spark (and Spark EV) are assembled in Korea.  The electric drive system and batteries are US designed and made and shipped to Korea for integration into the the Spark chassis.  The Spark is built in a Daewoo plant (the Spark is sold in Korea as the Daewoo Matiz).

It's a tiny car but designed well for maximum passenger space. It seats 4 adults comfortably.

The gasoline Spark is targeted as an entry level car.  It has a 4-cylinder engine which produces about 84 horsepower and an equal amount of foot-pounds torque.  Needless to say, it isn't exactly a speedster.

The EV Spark is something else.  The advanced electric motor drive and lithium battery pack produce 135 horsepower and a nearly unbelievable 400 lb-ft of torque.  To put this in perspective, the Porsche Boxter S is listed at 206 lb-ft of torque.  The torque of the electric motor is available from a standing start where the typical gas engine must rev to a very high RPM to produce its maximum torque.  Hence the need for several ranges of transmission gearing to accelerate.

The EV Spark has no transmission, at least a mechanical one.  It is tied to the transaxle/differential with a single reduction gear - in other words, the motor is responsible for all changes of speed.  In theory, the Spark EV could go almost as fast in reverse as forward - at least from a power perspective.  It won't of course because the software that controls the delivery of electricity to the motor won't allow it.  The Spark motor in design is very similar to the motor on my Fisher Paykel washing machine which are both brushless DC motor designs.  The magnetic field rotates in the stator which moves the permanent magnet rotor.

In fact, though the motor is capable of this high torque, it is effectively governed down through the electronic control of its electrical delivery from the 21.5KW battery.  A friend of mine who retired from GM's electric drive design team (he was involved in writing the code for several of the control systems on the Volt) says that the motor is capable of considerably higher levels of power and torque but it would be impractical due to the high rate of battery depletion.

The EV Spark with a full charge starts with 89 miles indicated as the top range but depending on one's driving style can ge considerably more.  As I have been getting about 30% higher mileage than charge expended, I feel confident I could go over 100 miles on a single charge.

Here is the beauty of an an electric vehicle.  Most owners of this type of car do not drive more than 30 miles a day.  The Chevy Volt which has a gasoline 'range extender' engine has proven this since most of its owner base report very low consumption of gasoline as the Volt's battery-only range is around 40 miles.  If you need more mileage, the Volt's range-extender engine comes on and through a generator provides charge to the battery.  It can also at higher speeds couple directly to the drive train.

I did not want an internal combustion engine in my electric vehicle as our driving tends to be under 50 miles round-trip with lots of errands and stop and go. I felt we would be paying a price to lug around 600lbs of IC engine and related systems (exhaust system, gas tank) for infrequent use.

In an IC engine powered car, local errand driving means frequent starting and shutting off of the engine which is inefficient in use of gasoline and produces wear and tear on the battery and starter.  Also, stop and go traffic involves frequent usage of the brakes which dissipate energy that was spent accelerating the car.  All this besides the loss of energy through the necessary cooling of the engine results in a low efficiency in conversion of thermal content of the fuel to actual mileage of the vehicle.

The Spark EV and other electric vehicles including hybrids can recover energy in the form of regenerated electricity.  In my Spark, I can put the car in 'Low' gear which only affects the deceleration effect of the motor when easing off the throttle.  Driving in this mode, simply lifting your foot off the throttle brakes the car without needing to engage the brake (in regular Drive, the brake modulates the regeneration so the experience is just like driving with a conventional brake).  It's like downshifting in a manual transmission car to use the engine to slow you down (I owned manual transmission cars for most of my adult driving).  In the Spark, I can slow down to about 5 mph using this regenerative braking before I have to engage the brake pedal.  This potentially has some safety drawbacks as drivers following you, if not paying attention, could fail to see you rapidly decelerating and rear end you.  So I use this form of driving and braking only when there is not a lot of traffic around.

The Spark has a surprisingly sophisticated electronic dashboard and telephone/entertainment system.  Touchscreen control and Bluetooth integration of phone, MP3 content and GPS provide an unexpected level of driver services.  It also has OnStar driver support (free for the term of the lease) and its own wireless number for emergency use.  

I am fortunate to live in California and the air resource board has mandated that auto manufacturers comply with zero emission requirements to have a certain percentage of their fleet sales be all or partly electric.  In April, a price war of sorts was started by Nissan when they reduced the price of their 3-year lease on the base Leaf to $200/month with a $2000 drive-off.  Fiat and Chevy responded with $200/month $1000 drive-off (Fiat 500e and Chevy Spark) and Honda with a $259/mo $0 drive-off on their Fit EV.  Fiat and Honda have no intention of building other than the minimum number to comply with state mandates in California and Oregon.  Nissan and Chevy have national sales targets and Chevy started their roll-out with California and Oregon.

The Honda Fit EV and Fiat 500e cars are in short supply and hard to get and for now, so is the Spark.  The Leaf, having been in production and sales for a couple of years is a bit easier to find.  The cars are fairly similar in range and performance and the Fiat and Honda have faster charging capability than the Spark and entry Leaf.  They do differ in passenger and cargo carrying capabilities.  I would judge the Fit and Leaf cars to have the most practicality, the Spark next and the Fiat last.

The economics are what drove me to acquire the Spark.  I am effectively getting 4.5 miles per kilowatt of energy.  A kilowatt-hr of electricity is about $.25 on average for me so assuming about 4 miles/kw, I can drive the 20 miles I get per gallon in one of my gas cars for $1.25 of electricity compared to $4/gal gas.  The lease price was kept low by dealer incentives and the $7500 federal tax credit that the leasing company will claim.  I, however, will be the direct beneficiary of a $2500 California Air Resource Board rebate for leasing the Spark for 3 years.  That will cover my drive off and first two months of lease payment.  I get 12,000 miles annually but do not see coming anywhere near that.  At the end of the lease, I can purchase the car for around $21K but will see how the state of electric cars is at that time.

Some other perks are solo-driver privileges in the HOV (carpool) lane which also includes toll sections of the I-110 and I-10 freeways in Los Angeles.  There is also free street parking in Santa Monica and Hermosa Beach where an hour of time can be $1.25.

When I arrive home and place my hand on the hood of the Spark, it is as cool as the rest of the car.  I expect the brake pads to last at least 5 years if not more since they are only used to bring the car to a full stop.  The maintenance schedule is: every 7500 miles, rotate the tires (side-to-side since the tire sizes are different front to back), replace brake fluid every 30,000 miles, drain and refill the motor unit oil at 97,500 miles (oil is used to cool the motor) and drain and replace the battery pack and environmental cooling fluid (antifreeze) at 150,000 mile.  That's it.  No oil changes, brake jobs, air cleaner (except the passenger compartment air filter) and fuel filter changes.  Of course, you still have to replace the wiper blades and inspect the suspension and fluid systems for leaks.  If I turn the car in after 3 years there is the high probability I will only have had to rotate tires which I can do myself.

The car is a blast to drive.  Not that I'm looking for challenges but this is a very stealthy car.  I have blown away large SUVs and other sporty cars like Minis from the stoplight.  They don't expect the high-rate of linear acceleration (no gear shifts) from a tiny hatchback.  And on the freeway, it continues the rapid acceleration all the way past 80 mph which is where I usually get concerned of getting stopped by the highway patrol and slow down.

From an energy efficiency standpoint (and greenhouse gas generation), the EV is exemplary.  The average IC engine will get around 25% efficiency converting the energy content of gasoline to horsepower at the wheels.  And once that IC car is moving, that energy is then effectively wasted when brakes are applied.

The typical modern natural gas plant will get 40 - 50% efficiency in gas to electrical generation. Deduct another 5% for transmission and conversion to the house panel and charging.  The electric drive will use that electricity at around 80%.  And it will recover a substantial amount through regenerative braking.

The greenhouse gas load will vary since the grid power includes very low CO2 sources such as wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and photovoltaic as well as fossil fuels like coal and petroleum.  It would seem intuitive that the overall CO2 produced to net a mile of EV travel would be much lower than a mile driven in a similar IC engine powered car which is largely petroleum powered.

I like that when I'm a solo driver that I am not expending large amounts of energy to move a large vehicle around just to make meetings and appointments or running small errands.  

There is an infrastructure cost, if you will, of the car charging circuit.  While you can plug in the supplied Level 1 120volt 'charger' in an ordinary outlet, it can take up to a day to charge a fully depleted battery.  However, we have not and don't expect to run the charge down more than 50% and it will be almost fully recharged overnight using existing house wiring and the Level 1.  I will be adding an additional dedicated power outlet providing 240 volts at up to 40 amps and a Level 2 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) which I will build myself.  You can buy a commercial unit and have it installed by an electrician for between $1500 and $2000.  Honda provides the Level 2 EVSE for free with the FIT lease, Chevy will rebate $500 for the installation of a Bosch charger.  I am building my own Level2 EVSE based on an open-source design.  It will cost less than half of a commercial charger and I can upgrade it myself to a higher capacity should we get a future EV with higher charging current requirements.  With the Level 2 EVSE, the Spark will charge from a fully depleted state to full in 7 hours.  That's slower than the FIT and Fiat which have onboard chargers with twice the charging current capacity.  Interestingly enough, the Spark has an option for DC high-rate charging which currently only the Tesla and Leaf cars support (using different charging designs).  I don't have it and don't really need it so am not interested in paying another $1000 for the feature when the availability of the charging stations is near zero at this time.

So that's my story.  Feel free to ask further questions in the comments and I'll be happy to share any info that might be helpful.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I appreciate the detail of your diary. (6+ / 0-)

    I'm assuming your car has, and you use, AC. If so, does it impact your range to a large degree?

    Best of luck with your new ride.

    religion is the smile on a dog...

    by lbl1162 on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 05:22:02 AM PDT

    •  I've been surprised at how little AC affects (9+ / 0-)

      range in my Volt.  The heater kills me in the winter -- I usually don't use it, unless the outside temp drops below 20 -- and very surprisingly the windshield wipers (or the rain?) has a large impact on range.

      AC, however, has almost no impact.  There have been days when I get 6 miles per kwh while using AC, which is the maximum I've ever gotten.

      When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

      by litho on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 05:31:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you have the windows down when not using AC? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, JesseCW, Ammo Hauler, Newzie

        Even in gasoline cars, studies have shown it's more efficient to have the windows up for low air resistance, and use the AC.

        So if you were comparing non-AC range, and had the windows open, that could be a big factor.

        But I'm not that surprised.  An AC compressor motor is small compared to the main drive motor.

        •  It depends on how fast you're going and the (4+ / 0-)

          vehicle you're driving.

          Generally, in modern cars, the break-even point is around 30.  So if it's a breezy bright sunny day and you're cruising around at 20 near the shore, go ahead and open those windows.

          Keep 'em closed and run the ac on the highway.

          Of course, older cars had very inefficient ac units and weren't designed very aerodynamically anyway.  Rolling down windows in them doesn't matter much and running ac matters a lot.  In my 67 Mustang, the AC could take it from 14 mpg to 11.  Windows didn't matter a bit.

          Mr. Universe is a known degenerate Robotophile, and his sources include former Browncoat Traitors. What is their agenda in leaking top secret information about the Reavers and endangering us all?

          by JesseCW on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 07:35:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Rain-X (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rja, FarWestGirl

        Use it on your windshield and you may not even have to use the wipers. Once I had mine go out on a long trip. I bought a bottle of rain-x and a towel, went to a nearby highway overpass (has to be applied dry), and I was able to get home safe and sound without using the wipers at all.

      •  Maybe future electric cars should have (0+ / 0-)

        a heat-pump type heater (essentially an air conditioner in reverse) rather than a resistance heater.  

        Renewable energy brings national global security.     

        by Calamity Jean on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 07:32:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, AC does affect range to a significant degree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, FarWestGirl

      although we haven't driven it a prolonged distance running the AC, living in a coastal area where the temps are for the most part moderate.  On short runs, windows down work fine.

      I'm assuming winter weather, well, as it is in CA with lows for us never going below 30 will also take its toll when the heater must be run.

      The nice thing is that the car can be remotely prepped via a smartphone app to turn on the environmental systems while it is still plugged in.  So you can get your AC or heat going while connected to house power and save the charge for driving.

  •  I drive about 100 miles daily in my Volt (15+ / 0-)

    and until now I've definitely needed the range-extending gas engine.  Even though I can charge at 110 at work, in the winter my electric range decreases dramatically from the fifty or sixty miles per charge that I get in the summer.  In miles per kwh terms, in the summer I get anywhere from 5 up to almost 6, but in the winter I'm lucky if I can get 4.  Forty-seven miles to work, and I can't do it on a single charge, not when I only get approximately 10 kwh use from a full charge (the battery holds 14+ kwh, but maintains almost a third of that as reserve).

    litho jr. is turning 16 in just over a year, and my current plan is to turn the Volt over to him and pick up a Spark EV for myself.  Even if the range decreases 30% in the winter, I should still have enough juice to get to work, and then I can use the 100 chargers at work to make sure I have enough to get home.  And I'll probably install the Level 2 charger when I get the Spark, just to make sure I can have a full charge in the morning.

    mrs. litho has now expressed interest in the C-Max Energi, and if she does that we'll become a three EV family.  Don't know how we'll take car trips if that happens, because the Spark is too small to take the family on the road and I don't know if the C-Max can take DC.  The Volt could do it, and it does actually get pretty decent gas mileage (I was averaging about 45 mpg on a 400 mile trip I took last week in addition to the 100 all-electric miles I drove), but it just doesn't seem to make sense.  And the interior and cargo space in the Volt is pretty limited...

    When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

    by litho on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 05:29:08 AM PDT

    •  Just wondering (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ammo Hauler

      is this due to "deep charge" depletion (or whatever the technical term is) issues that would reduce battery life if it were discharged too far . .. .

      the battery holds 14+ kwh, but maintains almost a third of that as reserve
      or purely out of spite/mocking?
      •  It's not mocking (7+ / 0-)

        because you have to dig deep into the weeds to realize it even happens.  The dashboard display tells you two things, how far you can expect to go on the charge remaining, expressed in miles (or kms, if you set it that way), and how many kwh you've used.  The amount of electrical energy used before the car switches over to the gas engine fluctuates from as low as 9 to as high as 10.8, based on all kinds of conditions, and it's only until you start checking the specs on the car that you realize the battery capacity is much, much greater than anything you've actually used in practice.

        It's gotta be that "deep charge depletion" you mentioned, or whatever the actual term is.

        When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

        by litho on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 06:01:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Li-Ion batteries are damaged by high/low charge (7+ / 0-)

        All Li-ion batteries, in laptops, phones and cars, have to be carefully controlled while charging and discharging.  The batteries can be damaged by deeply discharging them and by charging them full.  It's a property of all batteries, but it's more pronounced for Li-ion.

        So the physical battery is 14kwh, but only 10kwh of that is available for use, so the battery is always kept between 80-20%.  

        There are rumors that as GM engineers get more comfortable with the battery and have more experience, if they can show there are no reliability issues, they may be able to "unlock" more of the battery for use with a software upgrade.

        But if you want an EV battery to last 8-10 years, it's best to baby it as much as possible.  Batteries do not react well to being overstressed.

      •  The hybrid battery pack was taken care of (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ammo Hauler, JeffW

        by the built in computer . It was designed at the factory to keep the battery alive longer . The computer didn't allow things . It kept the battery pack between a set of discharge and charge points . Not to charged , not to discharged .  People started modifying their hybrids and they accidentally , as a side effect , shortened the life of the battery .  

        The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

        by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:31:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I've got an Energi (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      litho, davehouck, Ammo Hauler, JeffW, cosette

      I've got a Ford C-Max Energi, and it's a very nice car. If the Mrs is interested, it's worth a look.

      I'm not sure what you mean by 'take DC', it doesn't do a fast charge, 3.3kW max rate from 220v AC charger. But it's good for road trips: better space than a Volt, and better highway mpg than the Volt too. You lose some space in the cargo area due to the large battery, but you can pile the luggage high and it's still good. But it's a nice smooth drive, very quiet, and has enough power for moments when you need it.

      Come by the fordcmaxenergiforum.com for a good group of satisfied owners, they'll be happy to answer questions there.

    •  Wow - 3 EVs! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, Calamity Jean

      The Spark surprised us with the passenger room - it seemed more spacious than the Volt which we also test drove.  Of course, it has a tiny trunk area under the hatch - 3 large grocery bags fills it.

    •  Rent a gasoline car maybe? (0+ / 0-)
      ...we'll become a three EV family.  Don't know how we'll take car trips....

      Renewable energy brings national global security.     

      by Calamity Jean on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 07:37:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent summary of BEV benefits (5+ / 0-)

    I would add a couple more incentives for Battery Electric Vehicles to the ones you mentioned.
    Depending where you live, there's a chance that your local utility will provide incentives to help defray the cost of installing a Level 2 charging station. In Michigan, for example, DTE Energy will provide up to $2,500 for the purchase and installation of separately metered EVSE to the first 2,500 qualified customers who purchase plug-in electric vehicles. Even better, DTE also offers a reduced electricity rate to qualified residential customers for charging PEVs during off-peak hours.
    The State and Local incentives vary like crazy, plus many of them have a time limit or a volume limit, so it pays to do your homework.
    Here's a really informative website that lets you quickly find all the Federal, State and local incentives for alternative energy vehicles in your state:
    http://www.afdc.energy.gov
    Just click on the "Electricity" charging unit, click on "Laws & Incentive", select your state from the pull-down and see what's available.

    •  Thanks for the pointer (0+ / 0-)

      In LA, the Department of Water and Power has a $2000 (I think) rebate for charging equipment.  Unfortunately, I am served by Edison which offers nothing but good wishes and EV power options which will not really save me money.

      I think there is some kind of credit for 30% of EVSE installation but don't remember who offers it.

      Interestingly enough, West Virginia, a coal-producing state, has one of the highest state incentives of $4000.  This makes sense since the increased use of electricity should drive coal demand at the expense of petroleum.

  •  Volt owner here (9+ / 0-)

    Congratulations, you will love being free from gasoline dependence.

    I've had my Volt for 20 months now and just love it.  I drive mine like a pure EV and have not use the range extending capability for 21,000 miles.

    You will want to check plugshare.com for charging stations in your area.  Most require access cards.  I now have four (chargepoint, blink, semaconnect, and evgo).

    I also recommend going to gm-volt.com as there is a Spark forum there and an incredibly active community with GM engineers, Volt advisors, and OnStar active there as well.

    •  Thanks for the pointer to the Spark forum (0+ / 0-)

      I will check it out - I hadn't thought that there might be a Spark section at the Volt site but since the cars use common technologies, there probably is a wealth of knowledge on the power train and charging issues.

    •  Take care of the gasoline part of your Volt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ammo Hauler

      It is great that you're exclusively electric, but don't neglect the gasoline part of the car.  It might not work when you need it.

      I know nothing about the controls on a Volt, so there might be other ways to keep the system good.  I'd run the gasoline equipment about a half hour monthly under normal driving load to keep everything working and to get it warm to drive out moisture.  If the gasoline will be in the tank more than a month, I'd put a gasoline stabilizer chemical into the gas.  Buy this at any auto parts store.

      •  My understanding is the Volt keeps track of the (0+ / 0-)

        range extender engine in terms of running time and will advise the owner that it will start the engine to run even if there is no demand from the battery.  It does this periodically for exactly the reason you note.

  •  Very good and comprehensive EV primer. (6+ / 0-)

    One quibble: Though I can't speak for other models, braking in a Prius doesn't dissipate energy, but regenerates electricity for the battery. Until the vehicle slows to about 10 mph, the brakes aren't even working, simply the resistance of the electric motor.

    Other than that, excellent piece. Recommended with pleasure.

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 06:04:30 AM PDT

    •  Yes - I hope I didn't give the impression that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, Crashing Vor

      hybrids like the Prius don't use regenerative braking because they do.

      My friend who has owned 2 Prii, a Camry Hybrid and a Highlander hybrid says that his 2013 Prius' engine engages on long downhill runs.  I would have thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to recover charge but there must be something in the programming that does not allow the engine to shut off and the motor/generator to engage.

      •  The battery can fill all the way up on a downhill (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ammo Hauler, Crashing Vor

        On a regular hybrid, the battery will fill up pretty fast on a long downhill. After that, the computer spins up the engine to provide braking force.

        I've talked to some of the guys who own an Energi out west, and they can absorb 15 miles of EV range into the big battery with a long downhill coming out of the mountains.

        And if you've got a pure EV, you can come all the way down Pikes Peak and keep your friction brakes nice and cold, no idea how many miles of EV range you get back.

      •  After owning a Prius for a while in New Orleans, (0+ / 0-)

        I began to think about power regeneration through shock absorbers (drive around a place made of pure mud and no rocks for a bit and you'll know why).

        Turns out there's already a patent on regenerating shock absorbers (Chinese engineer, I think). I hope this tech can mature soon.

        I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

        by Crashing Vor on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 05:19:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  FANTASTIC diary! (7+ / 0-)

    I, unfortunately, am not in a position to buy an EV yet (aside from anything else, I'm waiting for my current car to die first), but have been writing regular diaries about EVs in general and the Volt in particular.

    I also recently posted a diary specifically about the Spark, so your diary has me especially geeked :)

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

  •  Interesting stuff about the torque (4+ / 0-)

    I've thought for awhile the electric car will become popoular overnight once they start beating the hell out of gasoline engines on the race tracks. Racing depends on acceleration not just top speed, The Indy 500 might be a ways off, but it seems to me electric dragsters should be pretty kick-ass even today.

    Nothing sells better than a bigger dick analog.

  •  Now we need to hear from... (5+ / 0-)

    ...a Ford C-Max Energi owner.

    Wish that would be me. My 12-year-old Focus ain't long for this world.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 07:07:53 AM PDT

    •  I've got one of those. (5+ / 0-)

      What exactly do you want to know? Or are you just asking for a general review diary?

      If your driving pattern is right for a PHEV (mostly short drives but occasional long trips), the C-Max Energi is an excellent choice. I'm averaging about 60mpg total, driving all electric during the week but still taking 200+ mile trips on the weekends. It drives well, has lots of space, and is quite comfortable.

      •  Calamity Jean test-drove the Volt... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ammo Hauler, Calamity Jean

        ...and she really, really wanted to like it. Unfortunately, she found it too cramped, bumping her elbows into the driver's-side door and the salesperson. Otherwise, it was a neat car.

        And yes, a general review diary would be nice. Please write one. When we move to the farm, we'll need a vehicle that can do long trips, but surprisingly an EV would do for local runs, not even requiring charging stations (though they might be nice!). One specific question I have about the Energi is if it could be driven like regular hybrid if one doesn't have a place to charge it overnight.

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 07:54:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yea, it's a hybrid. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW, Calamity Jean

          Absolutely, it runs as a regular hybrid once the big battery is mostly drained. That's the whole point of a PHEV. EPA rates it as 44/41 mpg when operating as a hybrid, which seems about right to me. So I do all my local driving during the week in pure EV mode, then my weekend trips are pretty much pure hybrid (after my initial 21 miles of EV is used up).

        •  That is exactly the SO's reaction to the Volt (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW, Calamity Jean

          She felt it was like sitting in a go-kart.  I liked the side-to-side support but I guess people experience thing's differently.

      •  I'd like to know whether it can pull a (0+ / 0-)

        trailer.  After we move we are going to need livestock-hauling capability.  Plus a general review would be great.  

        Renewable energy brings national global security.     

        by Calamity Jean on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 01:26:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Any chance that hacked software will be available? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW, Ammo Hauler, davespicer

    I bet your software buddy could come up with some nice tweaks!

    Of course, that would be naughty for a car that is leased.

    A friend of mine who retired from GM's electric drive design team (he was involved in writing the code for several of the control systems on the Volt) says that the motor is capable of considerably higher levels of power and torque but it would be impractical due to the high rate of battery depletion.
    The battery depletion wouldn't matter so much for a 1/4 mile.
    •  I'm betting it would take a serious tire upgrade (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ammo Hauler, rja, Calamity Jean

      to get that power on the ground though.

      Mr. Universe is a known degenerate Robotophile, and his sources include former Browncoat Traitors. What is their agenda in leaking top secret information about the Reavers and endangering us all?

      by JesseCW on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 07:36:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. Putting the car in 'Sport' mode which (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rja

        delivers energy more aggressively will easily break the front drive tires loose as they are relatively small and due to their low rolling friction design have only a modest road grip.

        I find it interesting that the front drive tires are smaller than the rear - seems to me that should be reversed.  I wonder if they could be eventually rotated front to back and if that would cause drivability problems.

    •  There has been a lot of talk about this on gm-volt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ammo Hauler, rja

      There were several people who have tried and supposedly upped the 0-60 time by a second or so.

      Recently, bad news racing came out with something for the Volt.   Here is the link for anyone interested.

      http://store.badnewsracing.net/...

      I am actually more than satisfied with the performance of my Volt and would rather find ways of making it more efficient as I try to drive 100% EV all the time.

      I used to drive around as fast as possible, now I try to drive as efficient as possible.   As a test a few weeks ago, I tried to see what the maximum I could get out of one charge.   This is my result:

    •  I don't doubt the potential exists to change the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rja, davespicer

      acceleration profile of the car but you'd need detailed knowledge of the software engineering process and tools.

      The lease has a section where you agree not to disassemble and reverse-engineer/modify the code.

      Of course, that never stopped anyone.

  •  Be warned - You cannot use the toll lanes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davehouck, Ammo Hauler, Roadbed Guy

    on the I 110 and I 10 without a transponder until March 1 2014 when the Federally funded (or co-funded, I forget) pilot program ends.

    It'll be cool when you can but I'd hate to see you get that fat ticket.  Right now, you must pay the same tolls as anyone else (it's not long, and I'm not saying this is any way a reason for people not to buy EV's).

    http://la.curbed.com/...

    Mr. Universe is a known degenerate Robotophile, and his sources include former Browncoat Traitors. What is their agenda in leaking top secret information about the Reavers and endangering us all?

    by JesseCW on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 07:30:11 AM PDT

  •  What are the costs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ammo Hauler

    to maintain the car vs a gas car over 100,000 miles. They must be much lower without an automatic transmission, Fuel Filter, spark plugs etc.

  •  ... (0+ / 0-)

    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

    by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 07:57:06 AM PDT

  •  Torque numbers don't tell the whole story . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ammo Hauler
    The EV Spark is something else.  The advanced electric motor drive and lithium battery pack produce 135 horsepower and a nearly unbelievable 400 lb-ft of torque.  To put this in perspective, the Porsche Boxter S is listed at 206 lb-ft of torque.
    Chevy's estimate of a sub-8-second 0-60 mile per hour time
    Its 130HP motor puts out 400lb-ft of torque, or enough to reach 60MPH in under 8 seconds
    Our Boxster S tester weighed just 3133 pounds and accelerated from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds,
    265 hp @ 6,700 rpm
    0-60 mph: 5.5 s
    Top Track Speed: 164 mph
    1997 Porsche Boxster   0-60 mph 6.5    Quarter mile 14.7

    1998 Porsche Boxster   0-60 mph 6.3    Quarter mile 14.8

    1999 Porsche Boxster   0-60 mph 6.3   Quarter mile 14.8

    2000 Porsche Boxster S   0-60 mph 5.7   Quarter mile 14.1

    2000 Porsche Boxster   0-60 mph 6.0    Quarter mile 14.5

    ............................................
    Power:
        140 HP / 400 LB-FT
    Transmission:
        Single-Speed
    0-60 Time:
        7.6 Seconds
    Top Speed:
        90 MPH
    Drivetrain:
        Front-Wheel Drive
    Curb Weight:
        2,967 LBS
    Power:
        315 HP / 266 LB-FT
    Transmission:
        7-Speed PDK
    0-60 Time:
        4.6 Seconds
    Top Speed:
        172 MPH
    Drivetrain:
        Rear-Wheel Drive
    Curb Weight:
        2,910 LBS

    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

    by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:16:58 AM PDT

    •  Torque will get you moving but horsepower is (0+ / 0-)

      required for rapid acceleration.

      Considering that the Spark is FWD with small, hard tires, the sub-8 sec 0-60 is pretty impressive but of course a RWD/AWD car with performance tires and twice the horsepower will prevail in any kind of acceleration test.

      •  Torque and horsepower are the same thing . (0+ / 0-)

        The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

        by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:45:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nah (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buddabelly, Roadbed Guy, davespicer

          Torque is a measure of force, twisting force to be exact.

          Horsepower is a measure of power...of work performed over time.  The calculation for power includes force, distance (or angular speed), and time.  A constant is often used to yield standard values.  Hp = torque in lbs-ft x rpm / 5252.

          What really matters in vehicle performance is the horsepower developed at the rpms you are actually running.

          •  Bingo ! (0+ / 0-)
            Hp = torque in lbs-ft x rpm / 5252.
            They are the same thing . If you know one , you know the other . If I give you a torque curve , you can calculate the hp curve and vice versa .
            Torque and horse are two ways of of saying the same thing .
            Like Centigrade and Fahrenheit .

            http://www.revsearch.com/...

            One horsepower is also commonly expressed as 550 pounds one foot in one second or 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute. These are just different ways of saying the same thing.
            It's important to remember the dyno measures torque and rpm and then from these calculates horsepower.
            http://www.abacusracing.com/...
            Technically speaking a dyno does not directly measure horsepower. The dyno measures engine rpm and brake torque. Brake horsepower is then calculated using the formula bhp = (rpm*torque)/5252. Dyno’s equipped with electronic data gathering and processing make this calculation transparent to the operator.

            The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

            by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:51:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not at all (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              Your torque curve is meaningless without time and distance...the rpm scale.

              Torque is a force, and that is all.  Power is the product of force and distance and time.

              33,000 lbs. is a force.  Move that force a foot a minute and you have power...one horsepower.  An electric motor can have extremely high stall torque--twisting force without turning--and develope zero horsepower if if doesn't turn.

              •  The torque curve has a rpm scale attached to it , (0+ / 0-)

                as you well know .  

                Torque is a force, and that is all.  Power is the product of force and distance and time.
                You keep making my point for me , thank you .
                Brake horsepower is then calculated using the formula bhp = (rpm*torque)/5252.
                bhp @ 1000rpm = 1000rpm * 100 torque / 5252 , do the math

                If I gave you a torque chart for a motor you could take every rpm and do the math and draw the HP curve .
                Once you know the torque you also know the hp at any and all rpms .

                If you don't believe me , get out a torque curve for a motor and do the math and draw the HP chart yourself .

                https://www.google.com/...

                The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

                by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 06:08:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  This is from your link (0+ / 0-)
              Here's an interesting bit of trivia; below 5252 rpm any engine's torque number will always be higher than its horsepower number, and above 5252 rpm any engine's horsepower number will always be higher than its torque number. At 5252 rpm the horsepower and torque numbers will be exactly the same.
              The bottom line is that this disproves your statement that "They are the same thing" = that ONLY applies at an rpm of 5252!

              At all other RPM, they are NOT the same thing . ..

              •  Geez, and I thought *I* was literal... nt (0+ / 0-)
                •  Huh? are you saying that torque and (0+ / 0-)

                  horsepower * are * the same thing?

                  That's very difficult to support, really, I've known for at least 5 decades that that is not the case (even if I haven't been able to offer the most coherent explanation how and why).

                  The bottom line is that just because on thing can be linked to another via some type of formula, that does not mean that they are the same thing.  In fact, unless the formula is incredibly simple (e.g., x = y), that pretty much guarantees that the two things ARE different.

              •  I didn't say they were the same number . (0+ / 0-)

                Just as Centigrade and Fahrenheit  are not the same number .
                But they are the same thing .
                0 = 32 , 100 = 212 .

                At all other RPM, they are NOT the same thing . ..
                They are the same thing said in different ways .

                Are you taller or shorter in the metric system ?

                The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

                by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 05:57:29 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  So your view on life is that as long (0+ / 0-)

                  as something can be related to something else by a mathematical formula, it is "the same thing"?

                  In any event, one just has to go to Google Images and type in "torque versus horsepower" and one instantly sees that they are NOT the same thing.

                  For example look at the two lines on this chart and try to tell me with a straight face that they are "the same thing"

                  •  Is 0c the same as 32f ? (0+ / 0-)

                    Is 100c the same as 212 f

                    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

                    by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 06:10:13 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  With a straight face . (0+ / 0-)
                    For example look at the two lines on this chart and try to tell me with a straight face that they are "the same thing"
                    Do you not get how they are exactly the same same ?

                    Take one of these lines , do the math and draw the other line .
                    They are two representations of exactly the same thing .

                    http://nrich.maths.org/...
                    Are these the same or are they not ?
                    Do you get hotter with Fahrenheit
                    and colder with Centigrade ?

                    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

                    by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 06:18:58 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  I will say it another way . (0+ / 0-)

                    I come to you as a customer and say
                    at 2000rpm I have all the torque I need ,
                    its perfect ,
                    don't change the torque even by .0001% ,
                    leave the torque right where it is ,
                    but I want 100% more HP at 2000rpm .
                    I offer you a great deal of cash to do this ,
                    using the standard math for hp and torque
                    show me that you can do it ?

                    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

                    by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 06:30:03 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  And I will say it yet another way . (0+ / 0-)

                    You take two perfectly matched motors , the are the same same .
                    You test them on your test stand and the test out just the same .

                    You box them up and send the to two different labs that have never seen or heard of a motor before , and you ask them to test your motor and figure out a way to measure the motors out put .
                    The two labs do the testing and come up with wildly different charts showing there results .  
                    There charts show the same motor in different ways .
                    And they are correct .

                    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

                    by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 06:41:47 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Check this out and see if it works for you . (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hey338Too

            Its Fahrenheit that makes you sweat
            but its Centigrade that makes you shiver .

            The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

            by indycam on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:56:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Getting silly (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              Celsius/Centigrade and Fahrenheit are just the marks along the side of a thermometer.  Each F mark is only 5/9ths the width of a C mark.  Pure water at sea level boils at 100C.  -10F is too cold for me to ski.  -40F = -40 C

  •  On the Spark EV, the scheduled maintenance is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, Things Come Undone

    tire rotations every 7500 miles.

    Then at 30,000 miles (probably about the time my 36 month lease ends), change the brake fluid.

    Other than those tasks, the only other thing is at 97,500 miles, the motor drive unit is drained and refilled with a special oil that serves to cool the motor.

    So if the Chevy dealer does it, I'm estimating less than a $1000 and if I do it myself, less than $200.

    Compared to the 20 or so oil changes, a transmission flush, plug replacement (on some FWD cars, it is a pain to get to the rear plugs which means $$$ labor) on a conventional car.  Plus a likely brake job, air filters, coolant replacement.

    I do most of this type of work on my Ford Taurus and frankly if I had to pay a dealer to do it would have gotten rid of the car a long time ago.

  •  Welcome to the club. I love my Volt and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ammo Hauler, Roadbed Guy

    have used 26 gallons in 8500 miles with about 4.5 miles per KwH at 5 cents per KwH. I need the extended range because we use it for any length trip. For us the Spark EV would be a great second car.

    The thing about the Volt is that it is a blast to drive. Seamless is the word that comes to mid. Quick, tossable, sporty, fun, comfortable, quiet and smooth are a few others.

    I'm sure you'll love your Spark even more as time passes.

    Further, affiant sayeth not. 53959

    by Gary Norton on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:24:05 AM PDT

  •  How well would this little car (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ammo Hauler

    do driving over the Grape Vine section of I-5?

    I know from experience that it's a challenging section of road for most small cars. I've had overheating problems with early Mazda and Honda Civic's when driving down south from here a couple of times.

    I expect that the Spark EV would probably manage the climb over the pass fairly easily. What do you think?

    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

    by Mr Robert on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 10:36:25 AM PDT

    •  It would probably do fine but the battery charge (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert

      depletion would probably be at a much higher rate than normal.  On the downhill run, it would recoup a fair amount of the original charge.

      Not sure I will have a chance to try this since I can't do it all on a single charge.  I'd have to drive over to Santa Clarita, charge up and then try the run.

      •  It occurred to me (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        that keeping the battery charged might be a challenge.

        I really don't like driving over the Grape Vine myself. The last time I was driving north along that stretch of road there was a bad accident on the downhill grade on the opposite side and traffic was backed up for many hours. Fortunately, given the way it's divided the accident really didn't affect the northbound traffic.

        It's also a very different experience depending on whether you're headed North or South. When going south there's a rapid rise in elevation whereas going north the rise is very gradual. Personally, I think I find driving north to be the most disconcerting.

        Anyway, if you get a chance to make the trip I hope you will report back and let us know how it goes.

        The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

        by Mr Robert on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 03:06:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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