Chevy's New Spark EV Highlights The Biggest Problem With Electric Cars

2014 Chevrolet Spark EVThe all-electric Chevy Spark will go 82 miles on a full battery.

Chevrolet’s new all-electric car, the Spark EV, will be able to drive 82 miles on a fully charged battery, General Motors announced today.

The fact that the 82-mile number is very good in the EV field highlights the shortcomings of electric vehicles on the market today.

It puts GM well ahead of Honda, whose Fit EV costs $37,415 and offers the same range.

The Spark EV will cost under $25,000, though detailed pricing has not been announced.

The top version of the Tesla Model S — the current king of electrics — can go 265 miles on a full battery, for a base price of $72,000. That makes it and the Spark EV roughly equal in terms of price to range ratio.

We took a quick drive in the new Spark at GM’s Baltimore plant test track last week, and were impressed. With great acceleration for a little car, it’s a lot of fun to drive. 

The Spark EV goes on sale this summer in California and Oregon.

While it’s good compared to what other EVs offer, the 82-mile range still means the car cannot be used for long trips. For a $25,000 item, that’s a serious limitation.

The impressive ability to charge up to 80% in just 20 minutes does not compensate — stopping every 80 miles for 20 minutes is not practical.

The limited range highlights the real issue holding EVs back: a lack of cheap, powerful battery technology. That keeps ranges short, charge times long, and prices high.

Until that technology significantly improves, the dream of an electric car that’s both affordable and practical will continue to elude automakers.

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