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.
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.