General Motors said today that it will introduce an electric version of its Chevrolet Spark minicar in 2013, one of several announcements touting small, fuel-saving technologies.
The Spark EV will be the first all-electric vehicle for GM, which became a leader in electrification with its electric EV-1 in the 1990s and the 2010 debut of its plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt.
The EV will come after the gasoline version of the Spark, which is slated for a U.S. launch "mid-year" 2012, Chevy spokesman Michael Albano said.
The gas-powered Spark is now sold in Korea, China and Latin America, will be slotted in Chevy's U.S. lineup below the subcompact Sonic, which went on sale in August. It will get a 1.2-liter, four-cylinder engine.
GM unveiled its EV plans to hundreds of international journalists in Detroit this week in advance of Chevy's 100th anniversary celebration on Nov. 3.
Two other announcements underscored how the Chevy brand is transcending its trucks-and-SUVs image as GM looks to grow sales globally:
• Chevrolet will introduce a new family of small-displacement gasoline engines through the end of this decade. The family will include three- and four-cylinder engines ranging from 1.0- to 1.5-liters in size. The three-cylinder versions are not currently planned for sale in the United States.
• GM said that its personal mobility concept, the EN-V, will get a Chevy badge. GM said it has begun work on the second generation of the two-seat, electric EN-V, which is short for Electric Networked-Vehicle. GM envisions the podlike concept as a long-range solution for traffic-clogged megacities.
GM is joining several automakers with plans to market all-electric vehicles as the U.S. government prepares to finalize tougher fuel economy requirements for light vehicles through 2025.
Tesla Motors and Nissan Motor Co. are already marketing electric vehicles.
Ford Motor Co. plans an all-electric version of the Focus compact car beginning in 2012. Toyota Motor Corp., Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Kia Motors Corp. are also readying all-electric vehicles for sale in the United States.
In January, GM CEO Dan Akerson said the automaker was developing an all-electric vehicle for the United States, giving GM another 'green' model to complement the Chevrolet Volt.
The Volt is an extended-range sedan with a gasoline engine designed to run primarily on battery power. When the battery is depleted, the gas engine recharges the battery. It went on sale in December.
In August, GM said the Cadillac Converj concept, a luxury coupe with extended-range electric vehicle technology, would be produced and marketed as the ELR. The automaker said the ELR program was just getting underway and declined to provide a timetable for its U.S. rollout.
GM's electric menu
Jim Federico, head of global electric vehicles for Chevrolet, said the Spark EV would be rolled out in key countries and urban markets where low speeds and shorter distances dominate driving habits. California will be focal point in the U.S., he said.
He said GM's strategy is to offer a wide menu of electrified vehicles, ranging from pure EVs to the extended-range Volt and the light hybrid e-Assist technology, launched this summer on the Buick LaCrosse.
"We understand the path to electrification includes a full range of technologies," he said.
The small-displacement Ecotec engines that GM plans to introduce in coming years will use direct injection and turbocharging to boost fuel economy. The new family of engines will replace three engine families currently in use, Federico said.
GM said it aims to eventually sell more than 2 million of the new engines a year worldwide by the end of the decade.