General Motors Co. is returning to the pure-electric market for the first time since the EV1's demise 12 years ago, electrifying its tiniest car in an attempt to appeal to urban buyers.
GM will launch an electric version of its global Chevrolet Spark minicar in 2013, the year after the Spark's gasoline version comes to the U.S.
Now, the automaker plans to offer a pure electric to compete with the Nissan Leaf and upcoming electrics from other automakers — and to help it meet stricter fuel-economy regulations.
But GM's electric vehicle is smaller than such competitors as the Leaf or the electric Ford Focus, which launches late this year. The Spark instead is closer in size to the electric Fiat 500 Chrysler plans to launch in 2012, which will be 4 inches shorter than the Spark.
"This is our (pure) EV for the U.S.," said Jim Federico, GM's chief small- and electric-car engineer. "We think this will be hopefully preferred from the urban point of view."
He declined to say where GM will build the electric version of the car, which will sell in select global markets. Massachusetts-based A123 Systems will supply its lithium-ion battery.
Chevrolet unveiled its updated Spark on Oct. 12 in downtown Detroit. GM has already sold more than 400,000 Sparks worldwide in emerging markets such as China and India, where it is called the Beat.
The gasoline-powered Spark will have a 1.2-liter, 83-horsepower, four-cylinder engine with either a five-speed manual transmission or an optional automatic. The car seats four or five people. GM will import it from South Korea starting in the first quarter of next year.