General Motors has announced that it will begin selling an all electric mini-car beginning next year; a revamped version of its gasoline run Spark mini. The move marks a significant change for GM Reuters says, moving from traditional vehicles to not just an all electric, but to a mini, which GM has criticized in the past. Mother Nature Network says the car will be sold in limited markets upon its release which will include of course California which as passed legislation forcing those who wish to sell cars in the state to offer all electric vehicles.
What’s perhaps even more surprising about the announcement, Reuters says is the battery technology to be used, which GM says, will allow the Spark EV to go two hundred miles between recharges, which many suggest might be a game changer. The new batteries are made by A123 systems, which MNN claims the batteries will actually take the car even farther, perhaps as far as three hundred miles, which they say, would start the death knell for gasoline powered vehicles.
Reuters notes that the new car will be the first EV since GM announced the EV1, which turned out to be not much of an announcement as the car turned out to be nothing but a compliance vehicle, which is what those in the industry call cars that are only made and sold to conform with legislation enacted by states such as California. Some suggest the Spark EV might follow the same path, which would mean so few sales that the car wouldn’t even show up on annual sales figures released by the industry. MNN isn’t convinced of that, despite the weak announcement from GM, coming late on a Friday to avoid press announcements. They say the number of sales won’t matter; what will are mileage numbers. If the Spark EV really does wind up going for three hundred miles, other car makers will take notice and implement the batteries as well, and that could be the catalyst the industry has been waiting for.
The development of the batteries themselves have quite a history, which has been spotted and sketchy at best Reuters says, leading many to doubt the claims of a company that now relies on funds from China just to keep going. What will really seal the deal, says MNN is the price of the battery. Right now, batteries in EVs typically account for almost half of the sticker price, and the thought of having to replace them after just a few years has kept consumers from taking the plunge. If A123 can get the mileage it’s claiming with a battery that costs less, we might see electric vehicle sales finally take off.