Thursday, May 28, 2015

vs California high speed rail

Now that we've established SparkEV kicks butt of cars, let's have it take on bigger fish: CA high speed rail, CAHSR or HSR for short. First, I'm going to describe high speed rail in realistic terms. Then I'll propose how SparkEV can demolish it.

Public transportation

There's lot of people who admire European and Asian public transit, especially the high speed rail. What they don't realize is that much of CA (and USA) is very different. The population does not live in apartments (aka. Condos) like much of Europe and Asia. For example, the land near my area for 10 households would easily allow 1000 homes in Europe and Asia in form of 10 high rise apartments of 100 homes each. As such, public transits in much of USA, where people want to live in houses, do not work. It's simply too expensive to pick up people who live so far apart. Unless people want to live in condos in tightly packed areas, the economics of public transit will not work.

New York and some parts of San Francisco have high enough density to allow some form of public transportation. But that's not the case in rest of the country, especially not in SoCal. In fact, polls show people want to have back yard, garage, and parking spaces for themselves and guests after they get tired of living in tiny city condos in their early 20's. It's not a matter of chicken and egg where having more dense housing will have people magically want to live in condos. People just prefer to live in private houses with garages rather than shared wall/floor condos after the novelty of condos have worn off. This is especially true when children are involved.

There's also the issue of people's dislike of close quarters with others. When you ride in public transit, you will notice that when there are fewer people, they will sit by themselves and not share the bench if they can help it. This is true with buses, trains, planes. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. But it shows people's preference to be left alone and leave others alone if possible. I've seen this behavior in other countries as well.

The best way to keep people happy is to leave people isolated by their choice, be it public transit or not sharing walls by having private detached homes. You can't do this without having first class seats on all public transit. Then the cost will be so high that driving  private cars would be cheaper. Indeed, much of public transit in CA costs more than hiring Mercedes taxi for every rider. Why we pay more than Mercedes taxi for buses and rail while the riders have worse experience is beyond stupid.

Nevertheless, proposal was made for high speed rail between Southern California and Northern California with promised travel time of about 2.5 hours and cost about $30B, and voters approved it. After voter approval, cost projections tripled. It was found too costly, so it was pared down between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a distance of roughly 400 miles and settled on cost more than double the promise to voters to $70B. Ridership projections are all over the place, from 30M to 130M. To give you an idea, entire CA population is about 45M. Lot of this just doesn't make sense.

Travel time

Let's take the 2.5 hours travel time. Suppose there are 12 stops along the way (there will be more), and each stop taking 5 minutes. That's 1 hour for all the stops. That leaves 1.5 hours for 400 miles, which works out to 267 miles per hour on average. With hills, curves, going through busy intersections in cities, peak speed would have to reach over 300 miles per hour. I read claims that the time is for no stops along they way. Really? Is that what voters voted for? Then one should not claim 130M riders or even 1M riders; that's impossible without any stops along the way.

If we start with average speed and stops, we can get more realistic time from LA station to SF station. If we assume average speed while moving is 200 mph (peak speed of 300 mph), and 12 stops taking 1 hour, 400 miles would take 3 hours. With 6 more stops (18 stops total, 6 in SoCal, 6 in Central Cal, 6 in NoCal), it comes to 3.5 hours.

Station to station is meaningless; airport to airport time is about 1 hour, but one would hardly call this the travel time. We must include home to station, train departure margin, station to station time, station to car rental, rental car to final destination. As I mentioned before, public transit in USA where people want to live in widely separated houses and stretch out in roomy seats cannot work well, so car is necessary to get to final destination.

From home to station is variable, but we can estimate 30 minute travel time for most people. This would not be unreasonable if the stations are placed in strategic locations where many people live (and lots of traffic). This is also true from destination station to drive to final destination. Total of 1 hour of driving.

One must have some margin so he will not miss the train due to traffic, etc. 30 minutes is good average margin while places like LA may require more. Upon arrival at destination station, one must rent a car or order taxi. 15 to 30 minutes would be enough. Total of 1 hour of waiting, renting, etc.

With station to station time of 3.5 hours, home to destination time is 5.5 hours for average speed of 400 miles / 5.5 hours = 73 mph. It is "high speed" compared to conventional rail, but this is slower than cars on some freeways. Simply changing freeway speed limit to 80 mph on desolate sections of I-5 freeway would be faster than HSR in desolate (low traffic) areas of CA. By the way, Germany's Autobahn recommended speed is 81 mph.

For comparison, airplane would take 3.5 hours from home to destination if we assume 1 hour flight time and 1 hour margin for departure for average speed of 400 miles / 3.5 hours = 114 mph. I doubt many will ride HSR regularly if it takes 2 hours longer (over 60% longer) than plane.

Driving 400 miles at an average speed of 70 mph will take 5.7 hours. Of course, driver's bladder may not hold and traffic is unknown, so it will take a bit longer (6 hours? 6.5 hours?) To save 30 minutes to go though the hassle of waiting, renting a car, not being able to carry as much, I doubt many will take HSR. This is especially true if more than one person is traveling and/or with pets; for a family travel, HSR definitely won't be used by most people due to expense and inflexibility.

None of this will help the traffic, because you still drive from home to station, which is usually located in high density part of the city to allow that 30 minute average time to get from home to station. If you treat HSR as Disneyland ride, it would be cool to take in the scenery. But most people would rather save 2 hours of their lives by taking the plane or save money by driving and not buy train tickets for every family member.

Total time from home to destination: 5.5 hours.


Ridership estimate is still iffy. 100M rider estimate was based on people driving to station and riding to next station just few miles up, which is completely idiotic. Let's take lower end number of 30M in Wikipedia as that's more "reasonable". That's almost entire population of CA riding the train a year. It could happen; many people will ride only few stops, and not go all the way end to end. Let's explore why even 30M is unreasonable.

Each train is roughly 10 cars, each car able to carry roughly 100 people for a total of 1000 people per train. For 30M riders per year, that's 30,000 trains per year packed full of people. Because people will board and drop off in the middle, we have to guess turnover number, maybe 3 times turnover, so 10,000 trains per year packed full of people. There are 24*365=8760 hours in a year, which means train packed full of people will be leaving the station more than once an hour, 24 hours a day. 24 hours of operation is unrealistic. Instead, if we assume 12 hours a day, but going each direction separate, that's still more than 1 train packed full of people every hour in both directions. How realistic is this even with just 30M riders?

You can play with turnover numbers to make it whatever you want, but the reality is people will simply drive to shorter destinations of less than 2 hours. They may drive farther considering rental car hassle if they take the train, and inability to take rescue dogs with them. At 65 MPH, that's 130 miles range where people will simply drive, which covers most metropolitan areas. There aren't millions of riders wanting to go to farms of Fresno, so the turnover is likely to be small with much of the riders going end to end.

More realistic ridership number is impossible to predict, but it'll be far less than 30M. But let's say it'll be 35M. What the heck.


$70B is a big number. When it was put to voters, it was estimated much less than half that amount, then ballooned to more than $100B after vote passed, then settled on $70B estimate by dropping San Diego and other routes. Knowing the government, they will have cost over-runs (I'm guessing at least 2X). But let's assume $70B for now.

For $70B for 35M riders, that's $2000 per rider. You can get LA to SF plane ticket on advance purchase for about $70, sometimes less on sales. Divide $2000/$70 = 28.5 year. If you give free plane ticket to/from LA from/to SF for 35M people for 28.5 years, that's the cost of HSR construction. If you add in on-going operating cost of HSR, giving free plane tickets indefinitely will be cheaper. Given the choice between free plane ticket for 30 years for faster travel vs paying $70 (or whatever HSR decide to charge) and slower travel, I think most people will scrap HSR.

This assumes everyone's going end to end, but as we discussed, some will be going to the middle (Fresno?). Train ticket income will be even less in that case, which means the loss will be even greater.

There was proposal to put advertising on trains to recoup some cost. How many people will that advertising reach? Just printing flyers and hiring couple of people to hand it out will reach more eyes; don't leave the flyer on windshields; I hate those!

Still, some people will want to go to places like Fresno. To build an airport, it takes between $1B and $10B. Places like Fresno where there's not much stuff would cost less to build. Assuming 18 airports are to be built instead of train stations for $70B, that works out to $3.89B per airport on average. That's certainly within possibility. With shorter travel times of planes, they are more likely to be used than HSR. While better than HSR, that's still too much money spent to build in middle of nowhere like Fresno and Bakersfield.

Alternative: SparkEV

SparkEV without subsidy of any kind was $28K, now $25K. With federal subsidy of $7.5K, that price drops to $17.5K. For $70B, 4 million SparkEV can be bought, or subsidized at 100%. Of course, having 4M EV on the road will strain the electric grid. If we reduce the subsidy to 50% ($35B) and use the $5B to beef up the grid and put in 1 million DCFC at $20K each ($20B total), that will still allow 4M EV on the road while having $10B left over. $10B will be commission to me (just kidding! Keep reading) Not only will the electric grid benefit, but people will get kick ass EV that's quicker than any car under $20K with far more DCFC than gas stations. Indeed, 1 million DCFC just for CA might be overkill.

With such large subsidy, even poor people can afford to buy SparkEV.  $25K - $7.5K fed -$8.75K CA = $8.75K, cheaper than many 10 year old used cars. Of course, fed subsidy would have to roll over instead of expiring on first year to allow poor people to take advantage of it, too. Since poor people typically drive gas guzzlers and polluters, this will have great effect in reducing pollution, far more than HSR or airports or even Hyperloop (will bash that later). But I don't care about pollution; I care about saving money (time = money). SparkEV does it all.

As mentioned before, HSR would have 35M riders per year (very unlikely, but let's assume so for now). With 4M SparkEV, that ridership is reached in less than 2 weeks. With HSR, people will still drive from home to station and station to destination using gas cars. But with so many SparkEV that's cheaper to operate than gas cars and higher performance and abundant DCFC, people will simply not use much gas.

Traffic is still a problem, especially considering there may be more cars on the road due to influx of subsidized SparkEV. But EV is far more efficient in traffic. That's not an answer, of course. We don't want to sit around in traffic all day, especially if we have to go from LA to SF. However, unlike HSR, going from anywhere in CA to anywhere else in CA is possible entirely by driving electric car; no gas is involved. With a million DCFC (hopefully making profit), range anxiety is thing of the past.

SparkEV won't be terribly fast, and there may be more traffic. But far more people will benefit. Green house gas emission reduction will be orders of magnitude better than HSR. It will be cheaper by $10B. I will propose solution to traffic and speed problem with this money in next post.

Realistic projection

As of May 2015, roughly $10B is available for HSR, mainly as bond. Then let's see how we can use $10B. Obviously, HSR is impossible on $10B. Raising $70B is also impossible. We might as well cut our losses and do the best we can, and that's SparkEV. Following is my proposed budget.

Grid upgrade : $1B
100,000 DCFC stations at $20K each : $2B
SparkEV 50% subsidy : $2B (228571 cars)
My commission : $5B (just kidding!!! we'll explore this later to reduce traffic and increase speed)

Instead of 4 million SparkEV, only 228571 are subsidized. Let's call it 228K. Out of 20M cars in CA, 228K represents 1.15%. Not that great. But when people see that SparkEV with DCFC is real alternative to gas cars, more will join. In addition, benefits will be felt immediately rather than 30 years down the line.

In next post, a proposal to cut traffic and speed up time from San Diego to Oregon border using SparkEV will be explored. When people see how SparkEV cuts through traffic and cheaper and faster, they will flock to it like never before. While HSR is retrograding to 19th century transportation, SparkEV system will be the beginning of 21st century transportation. We don't want to follow Europe and Asia. We will innovate.

Edit Nov. 2015

What I forgot to consider is what would happen if there's a terrorist attack on the HSR. If the HSR become so successful that 35 million people a year ride them, it is highly likely to be a target for terrorists. A bomb blast at peak speed sections where the train is traveling 300 miles per hour would surely kill lots of people, especially considering that 35 million people a year ridership would require train packed full of people for every trip. A single bombing could result in casualties of 1000 people or more!

How likely is it that terrorists to target trains? Based on London and Madrid bombings as well as Japanese subway "poison gas" incident, trains are ripe for terrorists if there are enough potential victims. Success of HSR is just inviting the terrorists.

Suppose one terror attack occurred. It may not have been entirely successful; some idiot might've been carrying something under his shoes. We all know what happened after the shoe bomber was caught; every passenger must take off their shoes to pass security screening. If HSR becomes successful, it's likely that there will be just as long waits for security screening as airplanes. Then the time from home to board the train would be just as long as airports. You can do the math, but the average speed will become slower than cars on school zones (25 MPH) for some "high speed rail" trips.

Far worse with security screening will be shorter trips. If one's to take HSR for few miles from one station to the very next station that HSR projections indicated, and they must spend 1 to 2 hours in screening, no one's going to do that. Even for 200 miles ride, I doubt many will put up with lengthy security lines, opting to drive instead. That means fewer turnover, and ridership will plummet. Worst case would be no stops in between, in which case why bother with trains? Just go for planes if traveling solo to save time, or drive the car for multiple passengers which will get there much quicker than the HSR.

The terror attack doesn't just have to originate in the trains. It could originate from outside. If terrorists can put IED for Humvees in Iraq, they can certainly do that anywhere along HSR route. Unlike planes where external attack while in air is impossible without military missiles, any nut job with some plumbing supply could make pipe bombs and crude shape charge. Heck, even throwing acid or Laundry bleach from grocery store on rail to weaken it could derail the train.

With such obvious potential for attacks from outside, HSR would have to be protected throughout the entire route. US can't even seal off few hundred miles of key boarder areas to prevent drugs and weapons from pouring in. The chances of protecting 400 miles of HSR on both side (800 miles) won't be possible.

Post terror attack on HSR, the rhetoric won't be "we will shut down the HSR boondoggle" What will likely happen is that "we won't let the terrorist win; we will rebuild and secure it better" Then more money will flow into rebuilding and trying to secure the entire length of the rail route. This won't be just one time fee; this will be on-going forever payment.

How much more will securing the HSR route cost? We can't know until it really happens, but given that 800 miles need protection, imagine entire budget of border protection as rough order of magnitude. Given that the protection has to be much tighter than the porous border, I suspect it'll cost far, far more. At that point, it might be cheaper to give 35 million free Tesla P90D ($110,000 EV) every year rather than operating the HSR.

Stop the insanity before it starts. Just give away 35 million Tesla P90D every few years. That will save lots of money and time and emissions. Far better, just give away 300 million SparkEV every few years. Just with California high speed rail spending equivalent, we can convert much of the world to the benefits of SparkEV.

Far better would be my plan, which would be quicker, cleaner, more convenient, much much cheaper, takes few months to build, it'll be as close to panacea as one can get. But I'm taking my sweet time in writing it. I guess I don't have an urgent need for that $10B in commission, yet.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Public chargers in SoCal

This could be simply summed up as eVgo "on the go" (OTG) membership. Their billing sucks, but they are the widest available DCFC for SparkEV. It's almost a monopoly. But they are cheap.

There are three ways to get billed for charging: one time fee, $ per kWh, $ per time. At home, one gets billed for kWh.

Home base rate : $0.17/kWh (SDGE Tier1, up to 531 kWh)
Home typical rate : $0.37/kWh (SDGE Tier3, 690 kWh to 1062 kWh)


eVgo has 3 plans. If you use DCFC more than 2 times a month, their OTG plan is cheapest. They are billing at $ per time; for L2, it's $1/hr, for DCFC, it's $0.10/min ($6/hr). I've discussed SparkEV's DCFC charging speed in previous post, which is roughly 1 second per 0.01kWh (36 kW) until about 82% SoC then dropping off gradually to 4 seconds per 0.01kWh (9 kW) at 99%. Times are actually bit faster than the estimates I give as covered in my previous blog, but we'll use conservative estimates. L2 charging is 3kW.

DCFC: $6/hr * 1hr / (36kW * 1hr) = $0.167 / kWh
DCFC at 99% SoC: $6/hr * 1hr / (9kW * 1hr) = $0.667 / kWh
L2: $1/hr * 1hr / (3kW * 1hr) = $0.33 / kWh

eVgo's L2 charging cost is 15% higher than base rate home charging. There's no reason to use L2 unless DCFC is currently being used and you are in a hurry. If you are in tier3, eVgo's L2 would still be cheaper. But this is my blog; I only care about my usage, which is Tier1.

eVgo's DCFC is cheaper than home charging at base rate. Topping off can get expensive, so one should monitor this. Timer included with most cell phones would be handy to warn you. Considering it takes 20 minutes to charge from 4% to 82% and 30 to 40 minutes to charge to 100%, extra 10 or 20 minutes is only $1 or $2. Still, that extra waste comes from your pocket as MPGe worse than Chevy Suburban, so one would be wise to avoid it.

Home charging or L2 charging uses on-board charger. As discussed in previous post, home charging was found to be about 80% efficient which means 20% of $ is lost. L2 would be better, but I haven't measure it (yet). We assume the same efficiency, but it won't make much difference at such high cost to begin with. DCFC is more efficient at over 90%, and only 10% of $ is lost. Normalizing for efficiency,

DCFC : $0.167/kWh / 90% = $0.185/kWh
Home : $0.17/kWh / 80% = $0.21/kWh
L2 : $0.33/kWh / 80% = $0.41/kWh

True cost for DCFC is about 12% cheaper than charging at home when efficiency is taken into account.

But keen observers will note that eVgo OTG plan has $15/mo fee, and that should be factored in. That cost is spread among each charging session; the more you use their chargers, the cheaper it gets. Considering that their $/kWh is cheaper than charging at home, one would do well to use them often. An example for me would be 8 DCFC in a month with 12.5 kWh per session on average to 85% SoC.

8 * 12.5 kWh = 100 kWh
100kWh * $0.167/kWh + $15 = $31.70
$31.70 / 100kWh = $0.32 / kWh

MPGe from table = 50 MPGe at $4/gal gas
MPGe at 5 mi/kWh = 50 MPGe*5/4 = 62.5 MPGe

Well, well, well! Their true cost comes through! It is about 50% higher than home charging! But you don't really have a choice of not using DCFC. You can opt for cheaper "plan" with $0 monthly with $5 per session fee and twice as expensive per minute if you use less than 3 DCFC per month. For me, having the peace of mind of not restricted to 2 sessions is well worth the cost.

If I only charge at DCFC while keeping under lease mileage of 800 miles / month, and assuming 5 miles/kWh and each DCFC on average to be 12.5 kWh

800 miles / 5 mi/kWh = 160 kWh
160 kWh / 12.5 kWh = 12.8 sessions, round up to 13
160 kWh * $0.167/kWh + $15 = $41.72
$41.72 / 160kWh = $0.26/kWh

MPGe from table = 62 MPGe at $4/gal gas, 4 mi/kWh
MPGe at 5 mi/kWh = 62 MPGe*5/4 = 77.5 MPGe

Even with membership fee, DCFC ends up being cheaper than typical home's tier 3 rate (but more than base rate). DCFC is just too convenient not to have. But it shows SparkEV at low efficiency of 4 mi/kWh would still be better than Prius. It's not as impressive as 90+ MPGe, but still very good.

What is the worst case scenario for OTG plan? You could pay $15/mo and not use the service or use it just once, but that's silly; you'd be better off not having the OTG plan. Argument will be made for using DCFC only 2 times. Let's assume 15kWh charge is taken per DCFC session. Why not 12.5kWh? Because if you're only using it 2 times a month, you're probably in dire situation to get the most bang for the buck. Again, this assumes more conservative estimates.

2 * 15 kWh = 30 kWh
30kWh * $0.167/kWh + $15 = $20.01
$20.01 / 30kWh = $0.667 / kWh

MPGe from table = 24 MPG at $4/gal gas (half of $0.33/kWh number)
MPGe at 5 mi/kWh = 24 MPGe*5/4 = 30 MPGe

It's not absolutely the worst (that would be 0 MPGe), but 24 MPGe is pretty bad. Of course, you're only spending $20 (assuming solar covers the rest) vs $42 when always using public DCFC. But it's all about your convenience. One should do what is convenient and require less dedicated time. If our time is worth $10/hr, bit over 2 hours would cover the difference. Most of our personal time is worth far more than that, even if one gets paid less than $10/hr at work.

But no one drives so little (about 120 miles with 2 DCFC per month). If you assume rest of 800 miles per month comes free from excess home solar or leeching off your friend's electricity, then,

$20.01 / 800 miles = $0.025/mi
$0.025/mi * 4 mi/kWh = $0.1/kWh

MPGe from table = 146 MPGe at $4/gal ga
MPGe at 5 mi/kWh =  146 MPGe*5/4 = 182.5 MPGe

Whether 182.5MPGe is worth the cost and hassle of installing extra solar capacity (or leeching from your friend) is completely dependent on your situation. For me, where I pay base rate at home and don't charge at home much, solar makes no sense. But if you're a high polluter (aka, electricity waster) who cannot DCFC often, home solar could make sense.

One would ask, why is eVgo charging by time instead of energy use? The answer is that not all cars behave this way. As discussed in Nissan Leaf DCFC bashing, their charging speed drops very quickly. If the charging time is cost metric, Leaf would end up paying more. Because they are most popular EV with DCFC as of May 2015, eVgo can make money from them while we benefit. I doubt eVgo would raise the rate to the ire of most popular EV on the road.

There's also the regulatory issues. Some states do not allow metering to be done on kWh basis, but only on time basis. For eVgo to have nation wide roll out and keep their billing the same, they'd have to go with least common denominator, which is billing by time. Seeing how their billing is so messed up even as is, giving deals to SparkEV to simplify things for themselves would be cheaper for them.

I'm not complaining about the cost, but eVgo has pretty bad billing. Their web site is next to worthless, and I have to keep track of all my charging sessions as there's no receipt or any record I can view. But they're just about the only game in town for SparkEV DCFC with clear pricing and convenient locations.


Blink is another popular charging network, but they only have L2 chargers. I haven't seen any DCFC in SoCal for SparkEV, only few Chademo for Japanese EV. Their L2 rate is $0.49/kWh. If they had DCFC for SparkEV, it would be $0.59/kWh. I'm glad I can't use their DCFC. Even their L2 rate is substantially higher. Considering charging efficiency,

$0.49/kWh / 80% = $0.61/kWh

Their L2 rate is approaching eVgo's DCFC rate when the battery is almost full. I did not know this, and I used their charger once when I went to dog beach. But in the future, it's best to avoid them. They may be necessary in a pinch, but that has to be some dire pinch.

To give you an idea of how expensive Blink can get, you'll be getting roughly 25 MPGe when gas prices are $4/gal, 19 MPGe when gas prices are $3/gal (from half of $0.31/kWh in MPGe table post). You'll be better off driving a recent model V8 pick up truck.

Chargepoint, Greenlots

Biggest problem with Chargepoint and Greenlots and others is that their pricing is vague. I haven't used them, but Greenlots are present in many Kia dealerships. When I called to ask how much it'll cost, they told me it's free. But I read at other places that it's free for first few charges, and the cost goes up to $5 or even $15 per session, because they can set whatever price they want. Unless clear pricing is known, I'd avoid using them if there's eVgo near. If there's no eVgo and only Blink is available, I may take a chance to inquire how much it'll cost.


Semacharge seem to have partnered with Walgreens. They are exclusively L2, and no DCFC. I have their card, and they charged me $10 in my credit card for cushion, but I haven't used them. L2 is just not practical and much more expensive in most cases. I'm afraid my $10 has gone to dollar heaven.

And the rest

There are several DCFC at shopping centers in Orange County that take credit card. This is convenient way to charge your car; I don't have to enroll in special membership with card that can get lost or misplaced. But all of them I've seen charge $5/session. This could get expensive for getting small bit of charge to top off to get to destination. I have not used any of them.

When you have eVgo membership, it's better to use them only. For the time being, eVgo OTG plan is the most clear-cut and cheapest for SparkEV.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

SparkEV suggestions

Just because SparkEV kicks ass now doesn't mean it can't use some improvements.

Is it a bug or just too smart?

When fan is turned on, sometimes "temp" is also on by itself which turns on the AC or heater. It should always remember the last setting, not do things by itself. This might be a bug in firmware.

After DCFC, parking brake is engaged. While minor, it should be engaged only when commanded to do so. But I don't know if engaging the parking brake is requirement for DCFC.

Limit charge to X percent or miles on select chargers

I live on hill top. 2000 ft high hill, in fact. Going home uses lots of juice, but lots of regeneration occurs on the way down, usually about 10 miles worth. As such, home charging should stop at 10 miles below the maximum. Otherwise, the battery gets overcharged. I once had the range to 100 miles after going down the hill. This can't be good for the battery when it could happen every day. Ideal would be something at the external charging handle to let the car know that it is home and how much to charge, 100% or X miles below.

Where are the chargers?

Currently, I have to printout the locations of the charging stations, type them into the GPS or call OnStar navigation and repeat the address over and over until it gets it. It would be nice if the display shows charging stations along the way, like plugshare. When I'm home, it can connect to my home's Wifi to get the latest info, or maybe even take the data through USB (how? plugshare API?). I don't have smartphone nor do I plan to get one. I don't do wifi in car, nor do I plan to do so. All I want is a way to find charging stations (DCFC only) while driving without having to stop off at Starbucks to use their wifi. Unlike big signs on gas stations, public chargers are well hidden from view.

If all Chevy dealers have publicly accessible DCFC, the GPS map would include locations of Chevy dealers as well. How's that for bringing people in to dealership on regular basis. 

Charge me up, chevy dealers

It seems almost every Nissan, Kia, and BMW dealers have publicly accessible DCFC, but none of the Chevy dealers do. That sucks. When I go to Kia dealer to charge, I see their cars, and some of them are nice (as in interesting to buy in future or recommend to friends). Now I don't expect Chevy dealers to give out charging for free. They should charge some nominal going rate to recoup some cost. eVgo is a good example of how much they should charge. When people find out Chevy dealers have rate as good as eVgo, they'll stop to charge when nearby. They will see some great Chevy cars. At the moment, there are only two cars worth considering from GM: SparkEV, and maybe Corvette as motorcycle substitute for the physically disabled.

As explored in my DCFC post, if dealers are located within SparkEV range across the nation (about 65 miles), one can theoretically drive across country on SparkEV. With camping option (discussed below), they can camp on national parks along the way, too. Now wouldn't that make for some interesting advertising?

Quicker than Mustang and Hellcat

SparkEV is plenty quick for its price. But wouldn't it be nice to make it twice as quick? That should be easy enough to do by increasing the gear ratio by factor of two. But current top speed is only 90 mph, and twice as large ratio will only allow 45 mph, not 60 mph. Well, most city driving "show off" is to about 30 mph, so this would be fine for that. It would allow it to accelerate to 40 mph quicker than most sports cars like Mustang, Camaro, maybe even the Hellcat and Corvette, especially given that monster torque is available immediately at 0 RPM.

If SparkEV has 2 speed gearbox, which may add maybe 100 lbs of gears + clutch, 0 to 60 mph will get a boost and still as practical as current form. Current gearing would remain the same after 45 mph, so top speed will remain at 90 mph. Exactly how quick will have to be determined after such car is built. 0 to 60 mph under 4 seconds is certainly within reach. Imagine that, 0 to 60 mph under 4 seconds for a car costing less than $20K. It will be sold out even before the first car hits the showroom.

Tow a light trailer

If we have all that torque available, wouldn't it be nice to tow a light trailer / cargo weighing under 1000 lb, like the $250 Harbor Freight trailer? This is like 4 adults of 250 lbs each, so it's not outrageous. Freeway top speed with trailer is 55 mph. If the lower gear is to 60 mph and Chevy calls it "towing mode" while keeping the taller gear the same and call it "eco mode", it will allow average home owner to make home depot runs for plywood and 2x4 without having to rent a truck. Heck, one may even be able to build a whole house using SparkEV towing a trailer with lots of trips.

One can also tow light camping trailer like Starcraft. This assumes there's DCFC along the way. Camp sites are usually higher up in elevation, so one can charge via gravity on the way down. Imagine 4 adults (or 2 adults and 2 dogs) go camping with full amenities with only couple of dollars worth of "fuel"; wouldn't that make for some interesting commercial? With the ability to tow small trailer, small cargo capacity drawback of SparkEV is significantly reduced.

3 gears best of all

If SparkEV gets clutch and 2 gears, adding a third gear is not all that difficult. Then why not? Have the first gear as "city sport mode" where it would be optimal for 0 to 30 mph sprint (45 mph max) to spank Mustangs and Hellcats. Second gear would be "tow mode" where it can travel 60 mph max. Third gear would be "eco mode" where 65 mph will return most efficiency. Combined, it would out accelerate most sports cars under $200K (maybe even out run the Corvette) in 0 to 30 or 40 mph, utility of a light pick up, and return 110 MPGe or more all in one car. One would be crazy not to buy this car. Well, maybe not for people who live in "when I pee outside, it turns to smoke" areas. But then, they're crazy to live there in the first place. Exposing their most important digit to such low temperature is doubly crazy.

Will they gear up?

Of course, this is all wishful thinking. I doubt Chevy will build SparkEV with gears that will out accelerate the Camaro and maybe even the Corvette in typical city driving. It will not allow trailers that may seem to eat into their truck sales. After all, we are talking about GM management here, the dunces of the automotive world.

But considering there are bright ones who built SparkEV, there is some hope. It makes no sense to stop improving SparkEV to save slower cars like Camaro and Vette. That's the North Korean way of thinking by killing the capable to appease the least capable. Instead, Chevy should investigate how they can make their higher end cars quicker. De-sparking SparkEV makes no sense; competition will eat them alive in very short time. They should've learned this from EV1 crush after which Toyota dominated the hybrid market, even to this day. And hybrids don't make much sense economically while SparkEV is economically sound.

Careful observers, even layman, will note that very light pickups are dominated by the Japanese. In fact, biggest selling pick up is Ford, not GM. If SparkEV eats into pickup sales with the ability to tow 1000lb trailer, it would most likely hurt the very light Japanese pick up trucks. I doubt people who would've bought the Silverado to switch to SparkEV and cargo trailer. There really won't be much impact to GM truck sales, but it will sting the competition, maybe even very hard. If anything, they'll come to the dealership to check out wonder-car SparkEV and be convinced to buy their next truck from Chevy instead of Ford.

It's all wishful thinking, but I hope there will be quicker, cheaper, more efficient and better utility SparkEV in the future. SparkEV spanking Hellcats on Colorado Blvd gives me the giggles. Here's another Corona toast for hoping for brighter, improved future of SparkEV.

vs gas car

Before I got SparkEV, I really didn't understand EV. As an engineer, I knew about motors, batteries, electronics, regenerative braking and so on. But to have a car that performs poorer and costs more didn't make sense to me. Tesla performs better, but I can't imagine spending 70K on a car. EV could never make up for the price difference even with fuel (energy) savings. That was until SparkEV.

SparkEV is different. It performs better AND cheaper than gas cars. I'd like to paraphrase George H. W. Bush: Read my lips: wide acceptance EV revolution has been lit in Apr. 2015 with SparkEV push by GM. I was welcomed to the revolution with sparks flying in its performance, both of the car and the sales figure. I hope GM does the right thing and stay humble in continuing the good engineering with good prices to save money for everyone. No more Iron Duke Camaro, and Bolt for $38K is too high.

It's cheaper at $15K MSRP (as of May 2015)

SparkEV MSRP is 25K and change, but the actual MSRP is 15K when you factor in 7.5K federal income tax credit plus 2.5K CA rebate. When Chevy offered 1K rebate, it was even cheaper at 14K. So when discussing SparkEV, one should compare cars of comparable cost: 14K/15K.

It never fails to amaze me how people can cling to a belief even if that's non-factual garbage. This applies to EV hating gas people (gas bags!) when they crow EV price and subsidy. "Oh, well, that price is with subsidy" or "if it's so great, you don't need subsidy". These same people have no problems taking subsidy for their mortgage interest payment; they don't question that their house value could be up to 50% less without subsidy; they don't question that if their house is so great, their buyers don't need subsidy.

Fact is, EV subsidy is here and now. If they discontinue EV subsidy, government won't give you the money back nor will they improve other services. If you don't take advantage of it when EV can save you money overall, then you are a fool for giving more money to the government to waste it on some other mumbo-jumbo that will suck even more life out of you. Until recently, EV performance and cost really didn't make sense to me even with subsidy, but SparkEV is different. If you're even a little upset at the waste government is doing with your tax money, the least you can do is take some of it back by buying SparkEV that will save you time and money compared to gas cars (and other EV, too) while taking advantage of the subsidy to the fullest extent.

Now that price is settled, let's see how SparkEV performs in similar price category compared to gas cars. Comparison to other EV was in my previous post. There are few criteria that matter: 0 to 60 time (fun factor), smog check (save your mental health) carpool lane (freedom to choose), maintenance (aka. money saved), MPG or mi/kWh (aka. money saved), time saved (aka. money saved), range per drive (aka. time equivalent of money saved). Obviously the range is lacking in SparkEV, but that's more than made up by others, and it's not as big an issue as it seems as you will find out later in this post.

Quickest 0 to 60 mph under $20K

SparkEV is rated 7.2 to 7.8 seconds in 0 to 60 mph time. Assuming 7.5 seconds, there's no car under 15K that will out accelerate SparkEV from 0 to 60. Here's one link that shows 8.0 seconds for the fastest cars under 15K.
 1. 2013 Hyundai Accent GLS ($14,645)
0-to-60-mph time: 8.0 sec
Highway: 38 mpg

But more important for typical EV driving condition is 0 to 30 mph time as every traffic light is where 0 to 30 is compared (raced?). This data isn't readily available for gas cars, but SparkEV does quite well: 3.2 seconds. By comparison, Accent is 3.4 seconds: not a whole lot worse, but enough to show respect to quicker SparkEV.

It's not cool to beat up on cars not as expensive as you, so let's look at more expensive cars under 20K.
 1. Mitsubishi Lancer GTS (2.4L)
Base Price: $19,035
0-to-60-mph time: 7.2 sec
Highway: 34 mpg

This is from old 2009 article. Prices of cars have risen since then while performances not so much, so SparkEV is at a disadvantage. Still, SparkEV holds its own against cars costing 3K (or 5K) more in best case number. Using newer data, from Dec. 2014 for 2015 model cars,
1. Volkswagen Jetta
Base Price: $18,995
0-to-60-mph time: 7.4 sec
Highway: 34 mpg

Jetta is quicker if you assume medium figure for SparkEV. For case best number, SparkEV is 0.2 seconds quicker than even the fastest car under $20K. The author gives nod to SparkEV at the bottom of the article. I don't know why he didn't put it in second place or first place at 7.2 seconds in the main article. It's clearly biased (he'll argue subsidy BS)! Let the record show that SparkEV is quickest 0 to 60 mph car under 20K.

No smog check

One of the biggest hassles about gas car is smog check. Sure, new cars are exempt for about 5 years. Every time car is sold, an additional smog check is required. But SparkEV is exempt for the life of the car, 5 years or 20 years.

Every time I go to get smog check, my heart races and blood pressure rises in fear of it not passing. If it doesn't pass, and heaven forbid that it's labeled as gross polluter, I have to take it to bunch of other places for repair at state sanctioned places and get it checked again at other special places and repeat as necessary. The repair cost could be easily over $500. More importantly, amount to time wasted, even if one's time is $7.50/hr, could approach thousand dollars. Even more important is ill health effects from all the aggravation, even if it passes.

Until 2015, Prius and other hybrids were exempt from smog check. That is no longer the case. Now even hybrids have to haul their ass into specialized smog stations to get it checked every two years. If it doesn't pass, then even more specialized places have to fix it, wash, rinse, repeat until some a-hole who thinks he's an environmental deity let you drive it.

Just to avoid this nonsense is well worth having battery electric vehicle. And while you're at it, you might as well get the best bang for the buck, which is SparkEV.

Carpool lane freedom

By now, most people know hybrids were allowed in carpool lanes, but no longer. As of May 2015, only plug-in cars are allowed. But there's different sticker for plug-in hybrid vs pure EV. There's only limited number of plug-in hybrid stickers, which is green in color and rapidly running out. Pure EV get white stickers, which is also limited, but abundantly available. This may not be the case forever, but as of now, I have a peace of mind to know that I don't have to worry about not getting the sticker.

Compared to gas car, ability to drive in carpool lane is yet another option available to me (at lower cost!). Having this option and saving time is worth something, more for those who value their time. I had the Prius because the time value of money saved in carpool option was well worth the Prius premium. With SparkEV, I actually pay less to be able to drive alone (usually with dogs) in carpool lane.

Some gas bags would poo-poo that carpool is clogged, too. Well then, SparkEV has the option to take regular lane. I didn't want to dignify such stupid nonsense, but this always seem to come up; simple fact is SparkEV increases your freedom to choose which lane to use where as gas cars are restricted.

Lower maintenance cost

Maintenance on SparkEV is spartan. First 2 years of maintenance is included in price, but maintenance only consists of tire rotation. At around 40K miles, brake is checked. Seeing how the brake rotor seems almost new with cross hatch pattern after over 900 miles of mixed driving, I doubt it'll be anything more than just a check. Thank you regenerative braking!

About the biggest cost will be the battery when it dies after 8 to 12 years. Cost is unknown, but Nissan Leaf battery of 24kWh costs $5500, so SparkEV's 19kWh should cost less. Prius battery was over $10,000 when it first came out, but it's only $2300 now (installed=$3600). Based on this, and in conservative estimate, let's assume 1/2 of current Leaf price after 10 years. One may need to replace coolant and other sundry maintenance at battery replacement. They should be close to minor / major maintenance of gas car, but as conservative estimate, let's assume very high end of $500.

Battery: $2750 + $1250 labor = $4000
Other stuff : $500
Total : $4500

This should let the car last another 10 years of battery, assuming you still want to drive a 20 year old EV. In contrast, gas car needs minor maintenance every 5000 miles, medium every 15K miles and major every 30K miles. Assuming going to 200K miles in 20 years like SparkEV and dealer cost, it's roughly

5K service: 200K/5K * $50 = $2000
15K service: 200K/15K * ($250-$50) = $2667
30K service: 200K/30K  * ($450-$250) = $1333
= $6000

It's not that simple, of course. EV battery interval is abrupt and upfront after a decade or so, but gas car needs regular maintenance at smaller incremental cost. One can sell a gas car before shelling out for 20 years of maintenance, and only pay what he's used whereas SparkEV at 10 years must pay for another 10 years of battery life. Cost of used SparkEV with partially used battery isn't clear, but it should be comparable to gas car, so this is probably a wash.

One can do gas car maintenance at discount shops or himself after warranty expires, which reduces gas car maintenance cost. On the other hand, gas cars have more stuff to go wrong, such as timing belt, fuel lines, catalytic converter, oxygen sensor, EGR valve and so on. Let's assume those repair costs offset the lower maintenance cost done by discount shops so the total is still $6000. SparkEV is cheaper by $1500 out of pocket.

Then there's the time value of money by not going to the shop as often for maintenance. Let's assume your time is worth close to minimum wage of $10/hr. Assuming 1/2 hour to drive to dealer, 1/2 hour to pick up after, and time in shop is doing something productive (ie, back to work, lunch break), that's still $10 per trip. Unfortunately for me, time is almost always wasted during maintenance (watch TV, browse web), which could be anywhere from 1 hour to 8 hours depending on how busy the dealer service department happen to be. Now we're talking $20 to $100 per service visit. That is if your life is only worth $10/hr (equivalent to $20K/year salary). My time is worth more, and I'm sure yours is, too.

Hybrids are even worse. They must have all the gas engine maintenance AND they have to replace the battery at roughly the same interval as SparkEV. Frankly, I don't see why people buy hybrids anymore when SparkEV is so much better when DCFC are abundant. Ford and others are focusing on hybrids, and that will be their downfall.

MPG or mi/kWh

As for MPG, there's really no contest. As of today, gas prices around here are $3.90 for 87 octane regular. That puts SparkEV at 92 MPGe for typical driving as shown in my MPGe chart in previous blog post, and highway would easily exceed 100 MPGe as shown in my "freeway efficiency" post. You can do the math to figure out how long it will take to recoup the EV premium on price by better MPG (hint: it's negative number, meaning you actually save money from day 0). So much for the old myth about EV being expensive when it comes to SparkEV!

Time saved (no gas station)

Now that I've been driving SparkEV for about a month, it's a strange feeling not going to gas station. Sure, I've stopped at a charger near Jack In the Box for 10 minutes to get a boost using DCFC from 60% to 90% while I ordered the lunch to go (JITB won't allow eating in with dogs). But by and large, I haven't spent any time standing around while charging the car. I was always doing something else: eating, sleeping, working, blog, walking the dogs. This means time to recharge is essentially 0.

By contrast, gas stations always require time diverted from schedule to drive there and get back on track. If the gas station happens to be on the way, one saves extra drive time, but most people stand there and monitor fueling. I suppose one can get AM/PM hot dog and eat, but I don't see much of that.

Meanwhile almost every EV charging is done when people are away from the charger doing something else. As bizarre as it sounds when public EV charge time is 20 minutes while gas fueling time is 5 minutes, or 10 minutes in case of my truck's giant dual gas tank, overall time saved is far more for EV than for gas simply because EV is not dedicated time.

Range per drive

Once charged (or filled up), SparkEV range is lacking from gas car at only 82 miles or 94 miles if driven carefully in freeway (see my "freeway efficiency" post). While this seems awful, it's not as bad as one would think. How often do you drive more than 82 (or 70 miles to give margin) per trip? For me, it's two or three times a month. Vast majority of the time, I just recharge at home while I sleep or DCFC while having lunch to go which incur practically zero wasted time.

On those rare times I need to travel further, I use public fast charge station while I have coffee and/or bathroom break from previous coffee break to give 60 to 70 extra miles in about 20 minutes. That's about 1 hour of additional freeway driving, or about 140 miles with one break which covers 99.7% (3 sigma) of my travel. That's the best case; actual is about 130 miles due to non-optimal DCFC locations and avoiding busy locations to avoid waiting.

I covered DCFC in previous post, but let's go over the example again. Let's assume 65mph average speed while driving and each DCFC give 65 miles range. Let's assume gas car has 325 range with one tank of gas. In gas car, this would be 65 mph average for 5 hours of continuous drive (assuming bladder holds that long). With SparkEV, first 65 miles (with 17 miles margin) is 65 mph average, but if one assumes 0.5 hour to find and charge (see my DCFC post), subsequent miles are

For 1 charge to 130 miles : (65 + 1*65 miles) / (1 +  (1+0.5)*1 hours) = 52 mph on average
For 2 charges to 195 miles: (65 + 2*65 miles) / (1 + (1+0.5)*2 hours) = 48.8 mph on average
For 4 charges to 325 miles: (65 + 4*65 miles) / (1 + (1+0.5)*4 hours) = 46.4 mph on average
For infinite miles: 65 / (1+0.5) = 43.3 mph on average (thank you, L'Hopital)

I can get to anywhere in the world with SparkEV at 43.3 mph if there's DCFC along the way. Unfortunately, it's only popular in southern California and San Francisco area for now. Chevy dealers across America, here's your chance to pull in EV drivers to your show room to show off your other cars (like Corvette's 2.95 sec 0 to 60 mph time): install public DCFC at your Chevy dealer location!

If I need to get there faster than 43 mph on average for many charge cycles or there's no DCFC along the way, I can always rent a gas car. So far, I haven't had to rent a gas car nor have I driven my gas car (Astro/Truck). I think I'll drive the Astro van just a bit to keep it running; it's not good to let a gas car sit for too long.

It's amusing how some gas bags claim they must have 500 mile range or they can't drive the car. How often do they drive 500 miles in one sitting? 7.7 hours at 65 mph without pee break? Really? If it's once a month or few times a year, and all other times are under 80 miles, it's cheaper to just rent a gas car for that rare long distance drive and save money with SparkEV. But if their drive is over 80 miles daily and they don't want to charge for 20 minutes during lunch, by all means, spend more money on gas car.

Table has turned; with SparkEV, gas car is now slower and more expensive than battery electric vehicle. Welcome to the revolution.

vs Tesla P85D, 2015 Corvette, and kicking ass

EDIT Jul 2015:
This post was written before Tesla announced P90D "ludicrous mode" of 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds, which is quicker than 2015 Corvette Z06 0-60 mph time of 2.95 seconds. I have to wonder if Tesla was reading my blog to come up with such mode. Therefore, comments relating to Corvette Z06 praise is moot. Chevy should consider having more powerful motor option for SparkEV that can spank P90D in 0-60 mph while still looking good having dogs in hair covered back seat with happy faces out the window.

Original Post

When it comes to fun in motion, I go for motorcycles. When I was working at Wendy's as a teenager, one of the coworkers gave me a ride home after 2AM shift was finished on his GPz550. The acceleration was exhilarating! Leaning through corners felt like nature made me a part of its secret world! Since then, I've never stopped owning motorcycles. As fun as SparkEV is, I wouldn't want to compare it to motorcycle. After all, 1983 Honda Magna V65 has 0 to 60 mph time of 2.2 seconds, beating most cars other than Bugatti Veryon.

Car is mainly for utility, and most cars under million dollars can't hope to compete against motorcycles in excitement. But there are few cars that come close in terms of acceleration. While SparkEV doesn't come close, it will be compared against higher performance cars to see how it stacks up in practical sense.

I don't look at EV and marvel just because they are EV. With shorter range than gas cars and inflexibility (for now) of fewer DCFC stations, it has to have better something. Lower energy cost alone doesn't cut it; comparable performance and overall cost must be lower. Putt-putt the glorified golf carts need not apply in my driveway. There have been few that fit this description in the past, but only two current EV that I'm aware that I consider kickass: Tesla P85D and Chevy SparkEV.

Tesla P85D is an EV that costs over $100K and range of about 200 to 300 miles. It has 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 3.1 seconds. That time beats most production cars in  the price range. It's even better than many cars costing more than twice as much, including Porsche, Ferrari, Lambos. If I'm in the market for performance car under $500K, there's only one choice, and that is Tesla P85D. It's not because it's EV, but because it kicks ass

Tesla P85D Insane Mode Launch Reactions Compilation - Explicit Version

Tesla Model S P85D Insane Mode Flying Loose Items in Slow Motion

Keen observers will note 2015 Corvette Z06 does 0 to 60 mph in 2.95 seconds, and it costs $70K. Is comparing a 4 door, 5 seat sedan to 2 door, 2 seat dedicated sports car really fair? Besides, up until 2015, P85D was faster than even the Corvette. P85D is still a kick ass car, but I am going to give a nod to Vette. Vette is a really amazing feat of gas car achievement. If I ever get mid-life crisis and want to ditch the dogs and get a girlfriend 40 years younger (when I'm in 60's and her in 20's), I'll consider the Vette. Two seats just isn't practical for regular driving.

SparkEV is an EV that costs around $16K depending on subsidy and range of about 85 miles. It has 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of about 7.5 seconds in various publications, although Chevy claims 7.2 seconds. That time beats all production cars under $20K. There are other things you may consider, such as interior room and towing capacity. But if I'm in the market for fun car under $20K, there's only one choice, and that's Chevy SparkEV. It's not because it's EV, but because it kicks ass.

Now let's pit those two kick ass cars against the other and see who wins. SparkEV beats the Vette from basic utility point of view due to only two seats on the Vette.

If the money was no object, would I get P85D or SparkEV? I'd make my own EV that kicks ass of both of them, so this is not a fair question (and I have some great ideas). But if I had to choose, and non-issue with money is only on initial vehicle acquisition, I'd go with SparkEV. This assumes, of course, I can't simply sell the car after acquisition.

There are several reasons for this. For one, battery replacement will be far cheaper after 10 years, making SparkEV's longevity possible in my budget. To go from LA to NY, I can simply rent a gas car and avoid charging altogether. But I will test drive a P85D. 0 to 60 mph would probably feel like smoother version of my old 1982 Yamaha XJ750J. Yes, cars are slow, even $100K+ Teslas.

But if I had no money issue even with regard to maintenance, what would I choose? It'll still have to be SparkEV. Insurance for P85D would be far more. But let's say insurance and all the incidentals are paid for, then what would I choose? It'll still have to be SparkEV. Driving around on $100K+ car is an open invitation to thieves and robbers, especially when I have to go to LA. Besides, driving P85D with dogs in the back with their hairs and dog beach sand everywhere seems very wasteful of the beautiful P85D. With SparkEV, dog hair and sand is almost expected.

SparkEV runs with 4 miles/kWh to 5 miles/kWh as found in my experiments (see previous posts). P85D is rated about 3.4 to 3.6 miles/kWh. Money savings from SparkEV is nice bonus, too. Of course, if you happen to be an eco-nut, pollution savings would cause you to choose SparkEV. But I choose it only based on practicality.

SparkEV seems like it's something that should've come out of Tesla. It's hard to believe it came from that company that brought you Iron Duke Camaro, then crushed EV1. Can you imagine collector's value of EV1 today if they didn't crush them? I hope GM continue to make cars like SparkEV and spark competition with innovators like Tesla. Who knows? Maybe Tesla will take on the challenge and we'll all benefit from having two companies making great practical EV that kick ass, gas or otherwise. For now, though, SparkEV kicks Tesla's ass!

A special nod 2015 Corvette Z06. Long ago, I owned 1984 Yamaha FJ-1200. It had 1/4 mile time of about 10.9 seconds and 0-60 mph time of about 2.9 seconds. 2015 Vette Z06 has very similar times. I always used to laugh at car people for getting excited about the car's snail-like acceleration, especially on 2 seater, not to mention their "feeling the road" gush when enclosed in steel and glass. 2015 is the year when I can respect "affordable" car for some decent quickness; $2M cars need not apply. Vette Z06's $70K is 8 times the cost of new bikes that are quicker and 20 times the cost of used FJ-1200. For now, I'd get a bike if I want excitement. But if I'm old and can't ride but have the money, Vette, with its two seats, could be my 4 wheel motorcycle substitute.

Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, but I wouldn't want to live there. As such, motorcycles are most fun and affordable to own, while P85D and Vette are fun to drive and unaffordable. Occasional visits are fine, but for ownership, SparkEV wins hands down.

What are Chevy engineers drinking? First, they come up with best kick ass car under $20K as 2014 SparkEV, then 2015 Vette that beats Tesla P85D. It's really hard to believe they are from GM. While I don't know what SparkEV and Vette engineers are drinking, here's a toast for jobs well done. I'm out of Coronas, so this will have to be Everclear (190 proof, 95% alcohol) on ice. Hardest liquor in the world is well fitting toast for SparkEV, the best vehicle in the world.

vs Hybrids

I owned Toyota Prius. When the battery was dying, the battery's SoC was low when it
was turned on in the morning, even if it was close to full the night before when it was parked. After about a week off this, it became unstable. Gas engine would run and the battery would charge to full quickly, then the gas engine would cut off and the battery would be low quickly. Then the dreaded red exclamation triangle came on. Without the main traction battery, car is pretty much useless.

Let's assume the battery lasts 10 years, 120K miles. I got 12 years, 150K miles from my Prius, but let's take a conservative estimate. Let's further assume hybrid battery costs 1/2 that of pure EV battery cost, because the capacity is lower. Considering Nissan Leaf battery is $5500 and Prius battery costs $2300, that's pretty close estimate. Labor for battery replacement on Prius adds $1200, so the total is about $3500; let's assume labor for Leaf is the same.

Suppose one has gas engine only car. One has to maintain the car through oil changes and so on. There may be repairs to be made, such as changing the water pump. But all the maintenance and repairs are for gas engine only. If one assumes hybrid / EV replaces the battery after it's worn out, and assuming it will last another 10 years, 120K miles, maintenance cost for equivalent gas car should be for 20 years, 240K miles.

5K service at $50 : 240K/5K * $50 = $2400
15K service at $250: 240K/15K * ($250 - $50) = $3200
30K service at $450: 240K/30K * ($450 - $250)= $1600
Total: $7200

Actually, gas car's maintenance is even lower, because one wouldn't take 10 year old car with 120K miles to the dealer for 5K service. But they also tend to break down, such as water pump, which adds repair cost. It's hard to say how high that will be (probably lot higher). But for the sake of argument, let's assume dealer maintained throughout and no repairs are needed.

Suppose one has pure EV. There's not much maintenance to speak of until the battery capacity is down so much or erratic that it needs replacement. About the only major service is coolant replacement, which should be less in cost than 15K ICE maintenance cost of $250. But let's assume 30K service price of $450 as conservative estimate.

EV Maintenance cost : $450
Battery + labor : $5500 + $1200 = $6700
Total : $7150

But if one owns hybrid, one has to perform all the regular maintenance of the ICE, and one has to worry about dead battery.

Hybrid's ICE maintenance : $7200
Hybrid's battery + labor : $2300 + $1200 = $3500
Total : $10700

It's not looking good for Hybrid compared to gas car. There's no way hybrid can make up the initial acquisition price difference from gas car and make up the maintenance cost difference from energy savings.

Hybrid doesn't compare well to pure EV. Energy cost is higher due to using gas engine. Even if one doesn't use gas in hybrid as in driving short distances with plug-in hybrid like Volt, heavier weight eats energy. Hybrid also has to deal with all gas car issues, such as oil change and so on, wasting time at the dealer.

Unfortunately, most pure EV tend to cost more than Hybrids. This is where SparkEV shines; it costs less than all hybrids on the market! It also has higher performance than hybrids costing two or three times as much! Buying hybrids doesn't make much sense when SparkEV is available, not even the plug-in hybrids. In fact, plug-in may be worse due to larger battery costing even more when it comes to replacement.

DCFC (quick charge) and Driving from LA to NY

One of the most practical qualities of EV is quick charge. Without it, EV loses much of its utility. Charging for hours with L2 is only when one goes to work and home. DCFC allows the car to be driven to two or three times the battery range without much pain. Even several hundred miles a day is possible with some pain. Even 1000 miles may be possible with lots of pain. For anyone considering an EV, DCFC is absolutely essential. Even if it's supposed to be an option, take the option. It's more than well worth it. It's essential.

Following thought experiment shows what SparkEV can do. Unless traffic jam is eliminated in CA or my plan for alternative to high speed rail is executed, this is only theoretical.

SparkEV has 85 miles range (95 miles at 55 mph). But one should give some margin of error. To make math simpler, let's assume 65 miles of usable range (1 hour drive at 65 mph); one should be able to find DCFC in 20 miles or at least L2 to get to DCFC. But let's assume DCFC only for this exercise. Let's also assume that DCFC takes 10 minutes out of the way (5 min to get off the road, 5 min to get back on the road after charge) and 20 minutes of charge time to get another 65 miles range for 30 minutes per DCFC session. I actually got from 4 miles to 84 miles in 22 minutes 54 seconds, so this is very conservative assumption. Assuming one starts off with full charge from home,

To go 130 miles, (65 + 65*1) / (1 + (1 + 0.5)*1) = 54 mph average
To go 195 miles, (65 + 65*2) / (1 + (1 + 0.5)*2) = 48.75 mph average
To go 260 miles, (65 + 65*3) / (1 + (1 + 0.5)*3) = 47.27 mph average
To go 1040 miles, (65+ 65*15) / (1 + (1 + 0.5) * 15) = 44.25 mph average

Time to go 1040 miles is the denominator, which is 23.5 hours. One can drive over 1000 miles in a day with 15 DCFC sessions if one starts with full charge! But where in So Cal can one drive at 65 mph for 65 miles, let alone 1040 miles? We can only dream. Or not; stay tuned for SparkEV vs CA high speed rail coming in the future.

To find the average speed to go infinite miles, we use L'Hopital's rule. You do remember L'Hopital from Calculus, don't you? Mr. Escalante would be mad if you don't! "Hey Kimo, you want fries with that?"

65 / (1+0.5) = 43.33 mph average.

Theoretically, it will take under 3 days to go from LA to NY. It's not yet possible as of May 2015, but if all Chevy dealers across America put in public DCFC, it may be closer to reality. Seeing how GM has been the dunce of the class until SparkEV, they should sell fries, too.

Edit: 2016-10-20

I elaborate on 1000 miles a day theory in another blog post here. Scroll down to "1000 miles a day revisited".

To repeat myself from that post, someone drove over 1000 km in one day (16 hours) with SparkEV using multiple DCFC with average speed of 40.6 MPH. Below is the video.

Below is the discussion. It's in French since he's in Canada (yes, they sell SparkEV in Canada, Mexico, and Korea), but you can use google translate to view in any language.

Unfortunately, LA to NY still isn't yet possible as of Oct. 2016 since there aren't enough DCFC along the route. But if it's available (hopefully soon), and average distance of 650 miles a day and 8 hours of sleeping, and assuming the distance is 2800 miles (2776 miles according to Google), it would take 4.3 days.

That's with sleeping 8 hours every night and having 13 charging breaks a day to avoid fatigue. It's probably not far from what typical people would do for such long trip, even with a gas cars. 650 miles is literally 10 hours of driving, something that most people cannot handle in a day.

But let's say you wanted to skip sleeping. At 975 miles a day, it would take 2.9 days (69 hours). The record for the trip on gas car is about 30 hours, so SparkEV would take much longer. But who does that? For most long trips that are sporadic, SparkEV would do just fine.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Battery capacity estimate

I can estimate battery capacity by taking measurements from state of charge (SoC) percentage and energy taken in kWh. Since DCFC is found to be over 90% efficient (see my past blog on efficiency), the accuracy of the battery capacity estimate obtained should be in that ballpark. Only if SparkEV would report kWh instead of (or along with) miles remaining, this would not be necessary. Alas, I must use this round-about way to figure out if what I'm paying for is what's advertised. I could probably use this technique in the future to find battery capacity as it gets diminished from use and time. I wonder if other EV can use similar technique?

I recorded 4 miles remaining reported by SparkEV and 4% SoC from eVgo at the start of charging. Yes, it's from "4 miles remaining and loving it" episode. After 22 minutes 54 seconds (1374 seconds) and 14.68 kWh, SparkEV showed 84 miles remaining and 89% SoC.

Knowing the SoC percent and kWh used, one can estimate the actual battery capacity.

(89%-4%) / 14.68 kWh = 5.79%/kWh
100% / (5.79%/kWh) = 17.27 kWh

Since SparkEV has 19 kWh battery, this is pretty close with 1.7 kWh for "reserve" or for saving battery health.

Another fun thing to find is DCFC rate at kWh/second.

14.68 kWh / 1374 sec = 0.0107 kWh/sec

Compared to Leaf at 50% SoC, SparkEV charges twice as fast. Another is how much money I spent for the drive.

(84-4 miles) / (14.68 kWh) = 5.45 miles/kWh

Wow. That's pretty good driving! (hint: some traffic jam). My MPGe table was based on 4 miles/kWh, but 5.45 miles/kWh is 35% better! Well, not really. 4 miles/kWh was mostly using on vehicle charger, L1/L2, where as these are based on DCFC, so it's not apple-to-apple comparison. Maybe it's closer to Fuji vs Granny Smith comparison.

In another DCFC session,

SparkEV showed 21 miles remaining and 25% SoC at eVgo at start of charging. After 14 minutes 51 seconds (891 seconds) of charge showed 10.05 kWh. At the end, SparkEV showed 74 miles remaining and 82% SoC at eVgo.

Finding 100% battery capacity as before,

(82%-25%) / 10.5 kWh = 5.43 %/kWh
100% / (5.43 %/kWh) = 18.42 kWh

It's not extremely accurate, but it's too close for comfort for usable battery SoC and battery longevity if you ask me. I hope SparkEV engineers know what they're doing. They have impressed me so far, so I have confidence in them.

DCFC charging rate is

10.05 kWh / 821 sec = 0.011 kWh/sec

Let's bash Leaf again. That's still twice Leaf's charging rate at 50% SoC! And the amount of money I spent for the drive is

(74-21 miles) / 10.05 kWh = 5.3 miles/kWh

That's not as good as before, but it was driven at higher speed with less traffic. Still, that's 30% better than 4 miles/kWh the MPGe table is based on.

This shows 2015 SparkEV has 19 kWh battery, and not 21 kWh battery like the 2014 model of SparkEV. For given EV range, it's better to have lower capacity battery so the replacement cost will be lower. I am curious what the 2014 SparkEV show if same kind of measurements are made. What would Leaf show? Or Tesla? And other EV?

Update 2016-06-23:

I don't monitor the charging at DCFC much, but the last one turned up as follows:

Start 13%, 12 miles remaining
End 85%, 12.09 kWh
12.09 / (85-13) * 100 = 16.8 kWh

But % reading are not accurate. It could be that the reading was taken just at the cusp of going to next value. Then the best case / worst case are as follows.

12.09 / (84-14) * 100 = 17.3 kWh (best case)
12.09 / (86-12) * 100 = 16.3 kWh (worst case)

Now this may seem bad, but it's not really. Few times I did monitor a year ago, I hit 16.5 kWh. It seems the number is not constant. Even the two examples above vary between 17.3 kWh and 18.4 kWh. Indeed, the range shown on GOM (guess-o-meter) has not changed since the car was new, and I haven't driven it any more economically than before.

Then the question becomes, what is the battery capacity when new? This was asked in forum, so I'll put my findings here.

According to commenter from Insideevs (probably also the same guy at forum) named "WopOnTour", capacity is 54 Ah for two cells in parallel and 96 in series.

Without better source, we'll go by 54 Ah rating to estimate the battery capacity when new. But without knowing the voltage, we cannot find the energy capacity. EVPump DCFC at San Clemente shows voltage and current while charging. Below are screen shots at 48% and 84%. (those numbers were chosen after careful analysis!)

Note that the current is only 99A, which makes 373 * 99 = 37 kW rate. It seems EVPump maxes out at 100A while ABB chargers max out at 125 A (373 * 125 = 47 kW). Indeed, I've seen 48 kW on ABB as well as the label on side of the unit stating 125 A as max DC output.

We know that the charger would have to be higher voltage than the battery. How much higher is unknown, but it's probably safe to estimate that about half capacity charger voltage is about nominal battery voltage when full. Yes, it's a guess, but probably not far off. Then the nominal battery capacity is

373 V * 54 Ah = 20.14 kWh

Out of this, we see the usage to be about 18.4 kWh. Somehow, this figure is made popular, but not 20.14 kWh. Forum post says it's actually 19.44 kWh from some GM guy, and I've read somewhere long ago about 19.2 kWh. Regardless, it seems the usable capacity on 2015 (and 2016) SparkEV seem to be about 18.4 kWh when new, which represents 91.4% of full capacity.

2014 SparkEV

For 2014, I don't have voltage data from actual charger. But it is known that it's 3 parallel at 60 Ah and 112 series from "WopOnTour" comment. Voltage for individual cell is found to be 3.32V by bicycle guy using OBD in different forum.

Then the capacity is

3.32 V * 112 * 60 Ah = 22.3 kWh

Out of this, experiments showed about 19.5 kWh used, which is 86% of full capacity. But Chevy advertised 21 kWh for 2014 SparkEV. Well, it's close enough I guess. Maybe the number I have is peak capacity while published figure is for derated for some factors with the derating factor to be 21/22.3 = 94.2%.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

4 miles remaining and loving it

Starting with 30 miles remaining indicated on SparkEV and 24 miles to DCFC destination indicated on GPS, I decided to take a gamble and drive there instead of charging in the middle. After all, 6 miles margin should be enough, right. Besides, there has to be traffic along the way, so the margin will get better, right? Right? RIGHT?

There's an old Korean saying, "even dog shit is impossible to find if one wants to use it for medicine". It's proven again in this case. How could the freeway speed be 60mph+ in Orange County at 4:30 PM on weekday? That's how it was for most of the way. Since the miles remaining margin didn't change much, I kept up with the traffic. If I run out of juice, I could stop at abundant L2 along the way, so I wasn't worried.

Well, maybe a little bit worried. There were some times when the margin was 2 miles on long up hills, but it quickly made up to 4 or 5 miles when the road became flat again and up to 8 miles on longer down hills and traffic speed of 30 mph.

At 15 miles remaining, it asked to turn off the radio. I also turned off the fan and cracked open the windows. Dogs liked the wind better, anyway. Some time less than 10 miles remaining, it reported power is reduced. Acceleration had slowed, but I was able to reach 65 mph without problem.

As I pulled into DCFC charger, 4 miles remaining was indicated. Cutting it close? Definitely! I had confidence in SparkEV engineers to design correctly, especially since I was driving from/to rougly similar elevation. It was an exhilarating drive nonetheless. Below is the photo of the display at the charger. Don't try this home, kids (that means you, grandpa with weak heart).

Since my 4 mile remaining escapade, I went even further, almost all the way down to 0. When it has 1 mile remaining, it shows as "low" rather than a number. Power was also noticeably reduced, although I didn't push to find out how low limited it was; I didn't want to get stranded 2 blocks away from the charger. Below two photos show the display from 2 miles remaining to "low" after 1 mile was driven.

vs Nissan Leaf quick charge

Nissan Leaf gets special mention here, because that's the most popular EV on the market as of May 2015. There's lot to like, such as bigger and earlier to market (by 5 years). It also has the option of 6.6kW L2 charger compared to SparkEV's 3.3kW. If L2 is all there is, Leaf wins. But when it comes to quick charge, SparkEV does far better.

In previous post, I described SparkEV's DCFC with eVgo as roughly 0.01 kWh per second, up to 80% SoC. I took it all the way to 100% SoC, and the rate of charge does slow down after about 85%. At 90%, it's about 2 seconds per 0.01 kWh. At 99%, it's about 4 seconds per 0.01 kWh. It's not absolutely accurate, because time and kWh numbers were eye-balled, but it's pretty close.

There was Leaf owner charging next to me. I recorded the charging rate, and it slowed down very quickly. It started to slow down after less than a minute. It seemed to be slowing faster over time, but I only recorded two data points (this ain't Leaf blog!)

Starting: 30% SoC, 391V, 106A (41.4 kW or 0.011 kWh/sec)
7 minutes of charging later: 50% SoC, 394V, 51A (20 kW or 0.0056 kWh/sec)

Leaf's DCFC slows down to half as fast as SparkEV's rate. Is this Chademo vs CCS or Leaf's fan cooling vs SparkEV's liquid cooling or combination or? But the end result is that SparkEV kicks Leaf's butt in fast charging. This could have big implications when driving longer distances: can one drive over 1000 miles in a day with EV? Theoretically, SparkEV can barely do it, but not Leaf. No one can do that with So Cal traffic anyway, but it does make Leaf bit more of a hassle than SparkEV.

I suppose I could've taken multiple data points (video?) and do a plot of kWh vs time and find curve fit (linear? 1/t? e**-t?). But this is SparkEV blog, not Leaf blog. If Leaf owners want to find out how inferior their DCFC is compared to SparkEV, let them gather / analyze more data. I hope some do, because I am curious how much quantitatively suckier Leaf is compared to SparkEV.

Edit Oct 2015

Since Nissan started "no charge to charge" program where they give free 30 minutes of DCFC to Leaf owners, this has caused huge problem for public fast charging. Since it's free for 30 minutes regardless of car's state of charge, people would let the car sit there for 30 whole minutes whether they need it or not.

If 30 minutes actually deliver "FAST CHARGE", the car would be fully charged, and other people can charge their car. But in case of Leaf, charging slows down drastically as discussed above. How slow? I've seen couple of Leaf charging at almost 2kW (18 seconds for 0.01kWh) at 95% SoC. People were still hanging around and having other people wait when they could get faster charge from their L2!

I made some observations on few Leaf. It seems Leaf starts off at 41kW.

Then it begins to drop after about 4 minutes. At 4 min 30 sec, it's down to 100A, or 38kW. This was true only when SoC was low. When SoC was high (86%), it was far less than 18kW. Yes, there was someone trying to charge for 30 minutes when his car had almost 80% SoC already. Hey, it's free, let others wait!

This screen shot for 30 minutes is from another Leaf that I happened to see. I wasn't waiting around for 30 minutes to see how quickly Leaf drops. Yeah, it's not apples to apples, but you get the idea. At 95%, it was 10A, charging rate of less than 4 kW, even slower than L2! The Leaf driver would be saying "hey, why not? it's free for me, sucks to be you to be waiting"

If there's one thing that'll kill EV adoption, it's this kind of crap where you have to wait 2 hours to charge. What does it matter if it takes 20 minutes to get 80% when other people take 30 minutes each to charge, whether they need it or not. Nissan may have done well with EV by releasing the Leaf, but it is doing a fine job of killing EV with their crappy charging system and "no charge to charge" program.

Edit Oct 17, 2015

I ran into a Leaf driver who deliberately chose to use dual head charger instead of Chademo as she was pulling in. When I asked her politely to move her car we both can charge simultaneously, she said she didn't want to bother! Scroll down in link below to see what happened.

Below is a video of inconsiderate Leaf charging at 89% (she started at 76%!) at about 6 seconds for 0.01kWh (about 6 kW speed). Either Leaf drivers are unaware that fast charging is slower than L2, or they're simply evil people taking pleasure in making other people wait, even if they have a wait. I used to think it was the former (idiot Leaf drivers), but after this experience, I beginning think it's the latter.

Edit Oct. 18, 2015

There's an old saying about beating a dead horse. Actually, the only time to beat a horse is when it's dead. In that regard, here's another story about crappy Leaf fast charge. When I pulled up to this charger, Leaf was plugged in, but 30 minutes had expired. The driver, as usual with these no charge to charge Leaf drivers, was nowhere to be found. After all, why bother unplugging after you're done when it's free? They could take up the fast charge spot and prevent others from using it forever, and there's nothing eVgo can do to encourage them to get off the fast charger spot (eg, charge more money).

Nissan Leaf charging to 89% SoC

Leaf took 30 minutes to get to 89%, but only took 9kWh. On average, that's 18 kW. Assuming Leaf usable battery capacity is 22 kWh (probably less), 9kWh represents 40%. Since it stopped charging at 89%, we can guess that Leaf started charging at 50%. Well, at least the fast-charger-spot-taking-douche didn't start when he's at 80% and go away for hours like some other Leaf drivers.

I took SparkEV to 89% SoC, just like Leaf using the same charger to do some comparison.

SparkEV charging to 89% SoC

SparkEV took 20 minutes to deliver 13kWh, On average, that's 39kW, more than twice as quick as Leaf. In addition, I started with about 12% SoC (had 10 miles remaining), which means SparkEV added 77% in 20 minutes. Had I let SparkEV sit for entire 30 minutes, it would've reached beyond 100%.

Leaf doesn't have fast charging; they're simply made to take fast charge spot while slow charging! Thank you, no charge to charge for making all of us waste our time!

Friday, May 15, 2015

vs Other EV

If you already drive SparkEV, you know how good it is. Along with great range and 10 air bags for unsurpassed safety, 0-60mph in 7.2 seconds is faster than the original Mustang and 300ZX, and blows away Camaro Iron Duke. But then, EVERYTHING blows away the Iron Duke, including the school bus. I never thought I'd be proud to own a Chevy after bankruptcy / bailout and canceling of Astro (and selling Iron Duke), but here I am, blogging about this engineering marvel of a car from GM. Below is my "bumper sticker" on my SparkEV.

But exactly how good is SparkEV compared to others? There are comparisons of SparkEV to other EV for 2014 model. It isn't comprehensive, but it is pretty good overview of where SparkEV stands: number one, baby!

However, it doesn't compare i-MiEV and BMW i3. Below is a table of my comparison. Unfortunately, 2015 model is not as well tested, so numbers are mix of 2014 and 2015. For example, Lb/hp is 2014 number while battery size is from 2015. Green is top performer, Orange is second place performer.

BMW i3 wins hands down in performance, but note the price. At 42K-25K=17K, one can almost buy two SparkEV with subsidy (subsidy + discount = 18K; see my first post). Also, smaller battery size is better when it comes to replacement cost, so the ideal is smallest battery with longest range. When all things considered, SparkEV gives best bang for the buck. I throw in Nissan Leaf to show how the best selling EV stacks up. If SparkEV isn't available, Nissan Leaf would be a second place in most performance areas and over-all winner due to lower price than i3. But SparkEV blows away the Leaf with good margin.

Note the lb/hp number of SparkEV. This is far and away the best among similarly priced EV. In fact, this is better than most (maybe all) similar priced cars, gas or otherwise. This number is from 2014 model, and 2015 model should be better due to having lighter battery from LG (vs A123 for 2014 model). Combined with massive torque at standing start, I wouldn't be surprised if SparkEV beats some higher end cars with more power and lb/hp in 0 to 30 sprint. I need to find a girlfriend who has a Corvette to try a race. She should also likes fostering dogs and cats and horses. And super model. And knows engineering. And likes living in the country. And, And, AND!!!

For those interested in performance gas car (BMW M3) vs stock electric car (BMW i3), see this video of i3 zipping past M3 in 0 to about 30 mph, acceleration that really matters in city.

There was some discussion about SparkEV torque in EV forum where people just couldn't believe it was 400 ft-lb for 2014 model. How could an econobox, especially from GM (yuck!), have such high motor torque? Some conjectured that it must be geared down torque. GM's Peter Savagian's post clarified that SparkEV is indeed 400 ft-lb at the motor, and geared down to about 1200 ft-lb at the rear wheel. For 2015, motor torque is substantially reduced to about 330 ft-lb and gearing also changed to keep rear wheel torque at about 1200 ft-lb.

Peter's rationale was that having lower spinning motor with high gear (SparkEV ~ 1:3, other EVs  ~ 1:9) improves highway efficiency. Typically, electric motor works more efficiently at low RPM. Indeed, Nissan Leaf shows 10,000 RPM peak horsepower in Car and Driver article, and that would make for worse efficiency.

In another post, someone (group?) took a tour of SparkEV factory where one of the guide was Peter Savagian. He mentioned several innovations, one of which was to use square wires instead of round ones for motor winding to improve space efficiency. Another was using easier to assemble cooling plates and liquid cooling for the battery from bottom to lower cost and increase reliability. In contrast, Nissan Leaf has air cooling. Why Nissan decided to go with air cooling is beyond unimaginable; with close to 100kW of power, even 10% loss (90% efficiency) is 10,000W, enough to melt metal for commercial foundry furnace.

This attention to innovation details pays off, and you can see it in SparkEV's price and performance. Great job, GM engineers! I'm proud to have spent my money to support such engineering marvel.

Now only if GM's marketing and sales department get off their ass and start publicizing the facts, they'd have a huge hit in their line up. In fact, I went to GM web site to see what they have for sale, and there's nothing I'd buy from them except SparkEV: Compact=Hyundai Elantra; Midsize=Toyota Camry; Fullsize=Lexus, Infinity, BMW, Mercedes, even Hyundai Genesis; Pickup=Ford F150; Van=Ford Transit or Mercedes sprinter; Sports=Subaru WRX, BRZ (remotely maybe Corvette); Hybrid=Toyota Prius (not Volt, not even close); Subcompact=Chevy SparkEV; EV=Chevy SparkEV; fun car=Chevy SparkEV! Lack of SparkEV marketing is pissing me off so much that I think I'm going to make a commercial for them in future blog post, maybe even follow through with Youtube.

Here's a Corona toast for a job well done by SparkEV engineers and another Corona toast for Peter Savagian for doing much better job in marketing SparkEV than the entire worthless GM marketing department. Cheers and Cheers!