The Chevy Volt is more popular with the press, but the all-electric Chevy Spark is the more environmentally friendly one. Recently a Portland man decided to see how far he could go on a single charge. After driving for six hours he clocked 139.7 miles.
Nick Jaynes, the Automotive Editor for Digital Trends, showed up at the Portland International Raceway one morning at 7 a.m. where a new electric Chevy Spark was waiting for him. He was advised by Chevy engineers that the Spark might go 160 to 180 miles on one charge under ideal driving conditions, but that meant driving at about 18 miles per hour for up to nine hours. Cruise control doesn’t work at speeds less than 24 mph, and holding the accelerator at a steady 18.5 for hours on end seemed too challenging, so he went with the cruise control. This decision is understandable considering the Spark is a sub-compact and probably isn’t as comfortable as vehicles
one would normally choose for a very long drive.
A sub-compact typically is just a commuter vehicle though, not one for longer trips, so ‘range anxiety’ is somewhat unjustified. In other words, if you have a place to re-charge at your destination such as work or school, then the electric Spark could be an efficient vehicle. The expected range per charge in normal driving conditions is 82 miles. This number will vary according to how it is driven and under what circumstances. For example, a writer for Extreme Tech said, “Of course, mileage is a key selling point. Chevy says normal drivers will get 82 miles per charge with the EV. I got as little as 65 miles when I pushed the car hard on the freeway and as many as 95 miles with cautious acceleration and deceleration. All that’s about normal for a small EV: with today’s cars you’ll get more than enough range to commute to and from work, not enough for a weekend trip.”
Of course, driving solo on a race track at 24 mph for a handful of hours is not at all typical for most drivers, so squeezing out almost 140 miles isn’t an example that most can relate to well. However, it was done to make the point that the vehicle is capable, under the right conditions and a mindful driver, of going well past 82 miles on a single charge. For example, the record-setting driver disabled the MyLink system and the climate control in order to conserve electricity. The temperate on the day of his attempt in the morning was only about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so that was a sacrifice that most people would be unwilling to make.
The fact that electric batteries are more efficient at warmer temperatures could be a good thing to consider when one is shopping for an EV. Preheating an EV when it is plugged into an electricity source, before it is driven can reduce drawing down the battery during a drive. In short, there are small things you can do (though some may consider them fanatical) to extend your EV’s range.
If the automotive editor for the Digital Journal had waited until it was spring or summer, he might have extracted a few more miles. Another consideration for buying an EV would be if the weather is too hot in summer, such as a place like Phoenix. If you are concerned about driving range per charge, then you wouldn’t want to have to rely too heavily on air conditioning.
The unofficial record set for the EV Spark is impressive, but it probably still can be broken by someone who is even more meticulous about arranging the best driving conditions.
The Spark EV has a list price of about $27,000 but federal and state tax credits could reduce that cost by up to $7,000.