Chevrolet Spark EV with A123 Nanophosphate Lithium-ion Batteries

The 2013 Spark EV is Chevrolet’s new 100% battery-electric car. It is GM’s fourth electric car model that includes the Chevrolet Volt, the Opel Ampera, and the Cadillac ELR. GM needs a pure-electric offering; Nissan Leaf is dominating the early adopter market.

Reuters reports that Nissan LEAF’s U.S. sales through September were about 27,500 — seven times higher than the Volt. Electric utility PG&E confirms that ratio reporting 1,200 LEAFs and only 250 Volts delivered in its service area – 10,000 electric cars for SF Region in 2012. GM is expanding electric car production from 10,000 this year to 65,000 in 2012 as it plays catch-up with Nissan and prepares for market share battle with Ford, Toyota, Honda, and others.

Now GM fights back with the Spark EV. A gasoline powered Spark is currently offered in some foreign markets as a 2-door, 4-seat, subcompact. Small cars are now popular in American cities as drivers fight for expensive parking spaces. In 2012, the Mitsubishi i will lead the battle for electric city cars with a starting price of $29,195.

By the time that Chevrolet can start dealer deliveries of the 2013 Spark EV, it will face tough competition from at least 10 electric cars in the U.S. selling for under $40,000.  The field will include other impressive electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF, which I own, the Mitsubishi I, the Ford Focus Electric, the Honda Fit Electric, the Scion IQ EV and others. Chevrolet only plans on limited sales in California and other select U.S. and global markets in 2013. GM has yet to announce battery size, range, fast charge capability or lack thereof and vehicle price. Electric car ranges of 80 to 100 miles are common.

Both the Chevrolet Spark EV and the Chevrolet Volt will be successful. Many people prefer the plug-in hybrid range of the Volt; others want a zero gasoline pure electric like the Spark and will count on the 25,000-plus public charging stations that will be available when the Spark EV is delivered. I have interviewed dozens of Volt drivers from music stars like Jackson Brown to regular commuters. They uniformly love their cars performance, reliability, and electric range.

Lithium Battery Competition – A123 Wins this Time

The Chevy Spark is a major win for the nanophosphate lithium-ion battery pack supplier A123, an American innovator that has lost most automotive design-wins to giants like Korea’s LG Chem and Samsung and Japan’s Panasonic and NEC. (Disclosure: author holds modest stock ownership in A123.)

As electric and hybrid car competition intensifies, Nissan, GM, Toyota, and Ford are in a race to sell the most vehicles with lithium batteries. I have driven cars from each of these automakers that use lithium batteries. The cars performed beautifully and delivered great fuel economy.

By the end of 2012, Nissan will have delivered 100,000 LEAFs. Renault is trying to match that number in Europe and Israel. Both automakers use AESC lithium-nickel-manganese polymer batteries. AESC is a joint venture between NEC and Nissan.

Ford may be the first carmaker to sell 100,000 cars annually that includes lithium batteries. When I lasted interviewed Nancy Gioia, Director Ford Global Electrification, she said that Ford has a 2020 goal of 10 to 25 percent of its vehicle sales including lithium batteries. Her best guess is that 70% would be hybrids, 20 to 25% plug-in hybrids, and 5 to 10% battery-electric. Everything from technology innovation to oil prices will affect the future mix.

Toyota Motor Corp is bringing to market three vehicles with lithium batteries – the Prius PHV, the RAV4 EV, and the Scion IQ EV.

Frost and Sullivan forecasts that the lithium transportation market will expand from $1.2 billion in 2011 to $14 billion in 2016.  Automotive Lithium Battery Competition Report

5 replies
    • John Addison
      John Addison says:

      Over 10,000 new J1772 charge points are now available and easy to find with Google Maps, charge point network. I use this public charge points weekly when I take longer drives in my Nissan LEAF. Employers are also offering more charging at work. A number for 1 MW and larger solar parking structures.

  1. Buzzz
    Buzzz says:

    "Reuters reports that Nissan LEAF’s U.S. sales through September were about 27,500 — seven times higher than the Volt."
    Link please. Sounds crazy high…. er wrong.

  2. aobg
    aobg says:

    Your number for Nissan Leaf sales (27,500) in the US is way too high:

    "Nissan says it sold 1,362 Leafs in the U.S. in August. That's a marked improvement over the 931 Leafs sold in July, but no match for the 1,708 electric hatchbacks the Japanese automaker sold in June. Still, the Leaf outsold other Nissan offerings – the Armada, Quest, Cube and 370Z – last month. Overall, 2011 sales of the Leaf now total 6,168 units in the U.S., compared to 3,172 Chevy Volts." From AB Green.

  3. John Addison
    John Addison says:

    Thanks for the feedback. There are lots of numbers reported on the internet. There is confusion between global and U.S. and between sales and deliveries. Currently orders are coming in faster than deliveries. Nissan assures me that they have overcome the tsunami/earthquake disruption and are on-track to deliver 50,000 LEAFs globally including apx 20,000 in the U.S. GM is scrambling to deliver 10,000 Volts by Dec 31.

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