Across the Pacific Ocean General Motors has been doing good business, especially in China and India. And it was in India that GM chose to unveil an electric version of its Beat subcompact, better known in America has the Chevy Spark.
The Chevy Spark/Beat is a subcompact that GM has yet to commit to selling here in America (though it did have a starring role in the second Transformers movie and it won a straw poll back in 2007.) While we may never see the Beat/Spark here in America, over in India, GM has been on several alternative fuel programs for its popular subcompact. So far that has included LPG conversions, as well as a supposed 65 mpg turbodiesel. Now add a battery electric vehicle to that list as well. High gas prices aren’t just affecting America, after all.
GM first made its plans for an EV Beat known last year, and they have finally delivered a working model. With a 20kWh lithium-ion battery pack, GM claims a real world driving range of 130 km (about 80 miles). The battery pack is liquid cooled, to prevent damage from India’s notoriously hot summers, and charging is estimated to take about 8 hours on a 240-volt outlet. Sounds like a serious Nissan Leaf competitor if you ask me, depending on the price.
Unfortunately, GM doesn’t plan to actually sell an EV Beat in India, as the li-ion battery pack makes this vehicle too expensive for most Indians to actually afford. Here in America, the story might be different, but Indians will have to rely on either the fuel frugal 1.2 liter engine running either gas, LPG, or eventually even diesel. This is all just a test…more like a tease if you ask me though.
So GM has a Leaf fighter that isn’t the Volt and could likely compete in the same price bracket as Nissans mass market EV. What is stopping GM from bringing it stateside? Would it actually stand a chance? Could it be sold for less than $30,000? All questions I’d love to have answered. For now though, it is just another American-badged vehicle too cool to come home.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.