2014 Spark EV reaches 65% calibration milestone

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  • Image: Trista Schieffler Spark EV lead devel eng.jpg
Image: SparkEV devel drive CA March12.jpg

Spark EVs in mild camo leave GM's Torrance, CA, facility on a calibration run. (Image by Steve Fecht)

The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV has reached the 65% milestone in its software calibration, as engineers also continue to work on the car’s driving dynamics, interior details, and user interface, according to Lead Development Engineer Trista Schieffler. She spoke recently with AEI via teleconference during a four-day development drive based out of General Motors’ Torrance, CA, technical facility.

Spark EV is based on GM’s conventionally powered A-segment hatchback (called Spark in Latin America and Europe, and Beat throughout Asia). It is GM’s first battery-electric vehicle since the 1996 EV-1 and is due to enter low-volume production in first quarter of 2013, according to supplier sources.

The calibration and customer feedback phase of development involves six vehicles in daily use. Each car is in the process of completing a 1500-mi (2425-km) test loop in various duty cycles using 120-V, 240-V, and dc fast charging at private and public charging stations, according to Schieffler. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=i3kkfrMCrVw.

California is expected to be the Spark EV’s primary North American target market at launch, due to the state’s new zero-emissions vehicle requirements. Similar development activities related to GM’s global EV programs include demonstration fleets in Korea, China, and India.

Scheiffler deflected questions related to the car’s projected range on a full charge, the capacity of its A123 Systems’ nanophosphate lithium-ion battery pack, and its off-board charging system. The front-drive Spark EV will be propelled by a GM designed-and-built traction motor rated at 85-kW peak output and 55 kW sustained.

An indication of the car’s approximate battery pack specs might be found in that used by GM’s Beat EV demonstrator unveiled in India late last year. It uses a 300-cell liquid-cooled Li-ion pack rated at 20 kW•h, and has a claimed range of 130 km (80 mi) in normal driving conditions.

When asked by AEI if the Spark EV will be superior to the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV in terms of the real-time accuracy of its battery state-of-charge and range-to-empty gauges (two areas often criticized in those competitors), Scheiffler said her team “has been listening to the feedback related to those vehicles now on the market.

“We’re working to ensure we have a reliable feedback [on range and SOC from] our customers,” she said. “We recognize how important that is. I’m driving these vehicles to and from work and to different places back in Michigan every day—and you need to know how far you have left to go” regarding remaining battery energy, she noted.

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