GM ends support for Spark EV batteries
Zach Hurst at EV resource has sad news for us: GM will no longer support Spark EV batterieseven for the few remaining vehicles still under the 8-year or 100,000-mile warranty.
“EV resource confirmed that GM will no longer provide replacement batteries for the Spark EV. This means that when the high voltage (HV) battery fails, owners will have no option to repair their car. Nothing. Their vehicle will never run again. he says in a blog post.
A bit of context
The Spark EV was GM’s attempt to get back into the all-electric game, and it wasn’t a bad vehicle. After killing the EV1 (that alone is a long, long story best told by the documentary Who killed the electric car), GM returned to the electric vehicle market with the Chevrolet Volt, one of the first mass-produced plug-in hybrids. Initial versions came with a battery that could go around 30 miles on a charge, but later went hybrid again like the popular Toyota Prius. It was one of two cars that spearheaded the major automakers’ response to the Tesla Roadster and the upcoming Model S (which was originally intended to be a plug-in hybrid at the start of planning), l The other being Nissan’s electric-only LEAF.
GM has seen the writing on the wall, especially with Tesla abandoning plans to build a hybrid Model S. In 2012-2013, it had a good battery research program, but it had no specific plans for an all-electric car. So when demand for electric vehicles grew and California pushed for more electric vehicles, GM had to come up with a solution quickly. He took his gasoline-powered economy car, the Spark, and adapted it into an EV-compliant car.
For those unfamiliar with the term, compliance cars are low-end electric vehicles that automakers build to meet government quotas or requirements, or to gain other regulatory benefits/credits that they would otherwise have to purchase. from another automaker building their own electric vehicles. Chevy made the Spark EV. Ford made the Focus EV. Toyota worked with Tesla to make the 2012-14 Rav4 EV, while FCA (not Stellantis) made the Fiat 500e and told customers not to buy it. All of these vehicles had a practical range of less than 100 miles and were priced below cost because no one wanted to pay for what the vehicles were cost-effectively priced. But, being able to continue selling SUVs and pickup trucks in California and other ZEV states was well worth it.
Unlike some other compliant cars, the Spark EV was actually pretty decent. Sure, it had a short range, but everything else about the vehicle was actually quite good. One of its competitors, the Focus EV, made trade-offs, like reduced boot space, poor vehicle dynamics/weight distribution and no level 3 charging to tidy up the batteries and sell them cheap. GM actually put more effort into the Spark EV, giving it better weight distribution, a more tightly integrated package, optional Tier 3 charging, and more torque than the same year’s V8 ponies. The same basic design, but with a bigger battery and in a bigger car, was used for the Bolt EV.
The Spark EV offered an even better value proposition as a used car. As Tesla ramped up Model 3 production and EVs became the car young people wanted, many Spark EVs were being leased out or sold by their owners looking to upgrade to a better EV. Because the cars had a short range and initially sold for so little new, prices were very cheap for used Spark EVs in the late 2010s.
Many of them have ended up on innovative used car lots like the one we talked about in 2019, giving thrifty people and low-income people the chance to get into electric vehicle driving without having to pay Tesla prices.
Why GM Doesn’t Support Its Batteries Now
Zack Hurst says he spoke to GM when the battery in his Spark EV failed, and their explanation is that they ordered enough batteries from suppliers like A123 and later LG Chem to cover the cars that they planned to manufacture, plus an undetermined number of extras to replace packs that failed under warranty. Exact numbers are not available, but the number of defective batteries must have exceeded the number they had on hand, leaving none.
If you have a Spark EV under warranty today and it breaks down, the Chevrolet dealer will have good news and bad news for you. The good news? They will honor the warranty and not simply refuse to do anything about the situation. The bad news? Because there is no battery to replace the broken one, they will not be able to repair the vehicle. So they will buy the vehicle from you to end the warranty contract based on what you paid and how far you have driven it since. From what I understand, the amount they will offer is not very high, especially considering that market prices for used vehicles are currently exploding.
If you’re in love with the vehicle and decide to keep it, or have a Spark EV that’s out of warranty, there are currently no repair options. Although spare batteries, recovery batteries and repair services are available for an older Nissan LEAF or Tesla Model S, few Spark EVs have been made and their market value is too low to justify paying a lot of money. for a repair.
When Hurst contacted Electrified Garage, the store owned by Rich Benoit du Rich reconstructions YouTube Channel, he didn’t have good news, but he said, “If you go online and type in ‘Tesla battery pack’, you’ll get quite a few results. But for the Spark EV, there’s nothing really there. It’s a really, really tough scenario. It’s so difficult that few people have even bothered to disassemble a Spark EV. It’s really very sad.
The current owners are understandably unhappy with the situation. Even if their car is running now, it’s a car with no future, no matter how enthusiastic some owners are about the car. Some people on Facebook groups said they were in real emotional pain, but decided to trade in the car or sell it for a newer EV, like the Chevrolet Bolt EV. But, there’s just no replacement for the cute little Spark EV.
Image courtesy of Zack Hurst, EV Resource. Used with permission.
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