More Electric Cars Than Ever, Still Not Available Everywhere

Where the electric cars are

As more manufacturers introduce electric cars, these battery-powered vehicles are becoming something people see on the road every day. At least in some parts of the country, they are.

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The number of purely electric vehicles offered in the U.S. will grow to a dozen by the end of this year. Many of those EVs are available only in a small number of states, however, with California being the epicenter of electric-car sales.

By Rick Popely | March 11, 2014 | Comments (1)

IIHS: Chevrolet Spark is Safest Microcar

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This probably doesn't come as much of a surprise, but microcars just aren't as safe as larger vehicles, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's new round of crash tests. Of the 11 model-year 2013 and 2014 microcars and subcompacts evaluated, the agency reported that only the Chevrolet Spark earned an acceptable rating in the challenging small overlap front crash test. The 10 others in the group earned marginal and poor scores, the two lowest ratings. "Minicars are the worst performing group so far in this test," IIHS said in a statement.

22 Cars Earn IIHS' Revised Top Safety Pick Plus Award

The 40 mph crash test simulates the front corner of a vehicle striking a smaller-diameter object like a tree or a telephone pole. The Honda Fit and Fiat 500 got the lowest scores of the group. "In both the 2013 Honda Fit and the 2014 Fiat 500, intruding structure seriously compromised the driver space, and the dummy's head didn't stay in contact with the frontal airbag. The 500's driver door tore open at the hinges," IIHS said in a statement. The agency also reported that the side-curtain airbag failed to deploy in the Toyota Yaris (pictured below), leading to its low score.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 22, 2014 | Comments (19)

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Cars.com Review

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The Chevrolet Spark EV offers all you'd expect from a short-range electric commuter car — including some of the drawbacks but also some pleasant surprises. Cars.com reviewer Aaron D. Bragman says the impressive 130 horsepower and 400 pounds-feet of torque from the subcompact's zero-emissions powertrain propel it briskly to highway speeds, while an EPA-estimated 82-mile range falls on the low end of what you may actually get. And while Spark EV drivers need not sacrifice interior comfort for 128-mpg-equivalent fuel economy, handling isn't what you’d call nimble. Read Bragman's review below.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Review

By Matt Schmitz | January 8, 2014 | Comments (3)

Chevrolet Helps Drivers Pull Fast One With Corvette Data Recorder, 4G Wireless

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Whether your need for speed manifests itself on the track or online, GM is offering two new ways to get a quick fix. This past weekend at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the automaker announced a first-of-its-kind performance data recorder for the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, which allows drivers to record video and audio of their hot laps and then use telemetry technology to analyze and improve their times. Meanwhile, the Stingray and a host of other 2015 Chevrolet models will also be available soon with an accelerated data connection to AT&T's high-speed 4G LTE network.

GM developed the performance data recorder with British motorsports-engineering firm Cosworth, and the system will be available on the 2015 Corvette; pricing will be announced later. The PDR's three major components are a high-definition camera mounted in the windshield header to record the driver’s point of view, a self-contained telemetry recorder that uses a GPS receiver to record performance data and a 32-gigabyte memory-card slot in the glove box for recording and transferring video and vehicle data of up to 13 hours.

By Matt Schmitz | January 6, 2014 | Comments (1)

Study: Most Clueless About Electric Vehicle Subsidies

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Similar to the old "if-a-tree-falls-in-the-woods" question, if government incentives to encourage the purchase of plug-in vehicles are offered, but no one knows about them, do they make a difference? A research team at Indiana University conducted a survey that shows not only are consumers unaware of available subsidies, rebates and other benefits — financial and otherwise — to owning a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, that disconnect could be keeping sales of the zero-emissions electric vehicles from reaching White House goals.

By Matt Schmitz | November 19, 2013 | Comments (3)

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV: Quick Drive

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Zero-emissions vehicle mandates in California and several other states have brought about a smattering of specialty electric cars, and GM has obliged with the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV — a punchy runabout that ought to sell on its own strengths, not regulatory mandates.

Based on the Spark hatchback that hit U.S. dealers 15 months ago, the electric version is on sale in California and Oregon. We took a brief spin at a Midwest Automotive Media Association event near our Chicago offices, and GM ought to expand availability like Ford has done with the Focus Electric. The electric Spark has all the inherent issues that limit EV popularity, but as the class goes, this one's impressive.

By Kelsey Mays | November 1, 2013 | Comments (0)

GM Offers Siri Eyes Free Integration on Six More Vehicles

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Look for Siri Eyes Free Integration on a host of 2014 GM vehicles. Previously offered on the Chevrolet Sonic and Spark, Apple's voice-activated "intelligent assistant" — requiring neither the driver's hands nor eyes for use — will now be available on the Chevrolet Camaro, Cruze, Equinox, Malibu, SS and Volt, the automaker announced Monday.

Through the vehicles' available Chevrolet MyLink multimedia system, users with a compatible iPhone running the iOS 6 or iOS 7 operating systems can direct Siri to perform a number of tasks while they keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. To use the feature, motorists connect their iPhone with the MyLink radio via Bluetooth, pair with the system and use the steering-wheel voice-activation button to begin and end sessions. In addition to the feature's no-look use, it prevents the iPhone's screen from lighting up, further mitigating distraction.

By Matt Schmitz | October 15, 2013 | Comments (1)

Would You Buy a Pink Car?

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Unless your neighbors sell a lot of Mary Kay cosmetics, pink cars are pretty scarce, but it seems like Chevy is on a mission to make pink the new black. The bow-tie brand is releasing its second pink car, the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic, in Deep Magenta Metallic.

It's the first in a series of limited-edition colors and boldly more Malibu-Barbie- esque than Chevy's last bubble-gum-inspired offering, the Spark in Techno Pink.

"We know that about one-third of our Sonic buyers note exterior color as an 'extremely important' factor in their purchase process — a higher percentage than other small car buyers," Michelle Killen, lead creative designer in General Motors' color and trim studio and exterior paint expert for Chevrolet, said in a statement.

But why pink? According to GM designers, the color is a "lasting trend," but it doesn't sound like many car shoppers agree. Chevrolet spokeswoman Annalisa Bluhm told us Techno Pink only "accounts for 10% of all Sparks sold — and they are not all to ladies, either!"

The Sonic in Deep Magenta Metallic will be available August through October. Next up will be Cool Blue from November until March followed by Dragon Green during the first quarter of 2014.

Related
Can Choosing the Wrong Color Lower Your Resale Value?
Who Buys the Chevrolet Spark?
Research the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic

By Jennifer Geiger | July 22, 2013 | Comments (11)

Top 10 Best Base Models

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An ode to the base model.

Black door handles and a seat that can't move up and down/
paying monthly for not a lot has me feeling like a clown.

Just because you might not be able to afford more than the very least in a car doesn't mean you have to sing the base-model blues. Automakers are adding more features to their lowliest trim levels to entice shoppers even if some are stuck in the stone ages before the USB port became a necessity.

Here are 10 models that we consider to be solid picks, even in their base-model version.

By David Thomas | June 12, 2013 | Comments (9)

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Starts Under $20K After Federal Tax Credit

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Attention, California and Oregon residents: The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV, whose 21-kilowatt-hour battery enables 82 miles of travel when fully charged, will start as low as $19,995, including an $810 destination charge and the maximum $7,500 federal tax credit. That undercuts the 2013 Nissan Leaf ($22,150), 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV ($22,475) and 2013 Fiat 500e ($25,000) with destination fees and the full tax credit.

Californians may also qualify for additional incentives as high as $2,500, lowering the pint-sized EV to less than $17,500. Like other plug-in vehicles, Spark EVs also get carpool-lane access with a single driver. If you ever drive Los Angeles' Interstate 405 at rush hour — OK, any time of day — that's no small incentive.

California and Oregon get the Spark EV starting next month, but GM has yet to announce plans to sell it in the other 48 states. The automaker is "evaluating the business case" for national availability, spokeswoman Annalisa Bluhm said.

By Kelsey Mays | May 23, 2013 | Comments (2)

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