Will the Spark EV Succeed in the U.S. Market?

Chevrolet Spark minicar concept

With sales of both the Leaf and Volt down considerably, Chevrolet is introducing the 2012 Spark minicar to the U.S. The gas-powered version with a 1.2-liter engine and 128 hp (other sources state 83 hp) arrives next year; the plug-in EV will debut in 2013.

It’s designed for congested cities where people have short, low-speed commutes. The EV will first appear in selected worldwide markets, including California. Not much more info is available, except that GM says it will be competitive in range with the Leaf (73 estimated miles per charge), and the Focus EV (100 miles estimated).

Now, really, who among hip city dwellers is going to buy this thing? Fiat and Scion are also planning to produce EVs, and they cannot possibly be as ugly as the Spark. Smart is still in the game, and the Leaf will have gained a considerable foothold by 2013. Most major automakers, and a few startups, will be offering EVs like this.

They’re doing it not to save the world from global warming but to comply with the increasingly stringent CAFE standards, requiring an average 54.5 mpg across all company cars by 2025.

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