Mike Stevens | Nov 16, 2012

Chevrolet has released the first images and details of its Spark EV, an electrified cousin to Australia's Holden Barina Spark.

The green new hatch won't be rushing to join the electric Volt in Australia however, with the carmaker confirming it will watch the growth of the local EV market before making a decision.

When the Spark EV rolls into the LA Auto Show this month, it will offer a first look at GM's new oil-cooled permanent magnet motor that delivers "at least" 100kW and a hefty 542Nm of torque.

With those figures, the EV will become the most powerful in the Spark range. In 1.2 litre petrol form, the Australian-delivered Spark offers just 59kW and 107Nm.

While the four-cylinder Spark needs a little over 12 seconds to hit 100km/h, Chevrolet says the EV model will get there in less than eight seconds.

“What we think customers will enjoy most is how fun Spark EV is to drive; it’s seamless and power is available at every stage of the drive,” Spark EV Chief Engineer Chuck Russell said.

“This will help us to provide an exciting option for those customers who are looking for an EV that’s as much fun to drive as it is environmentally responsible.”

The electric motor draws its energy from a lithium-ion battery pack positioned beneath the rear seats and in the front section of the rear storage space.

The carmaker has utilised much of the Volt's electric technology in designing the Spark EV, with the two cars sharing around 75 percent of their drivetrain parts.

Chevrolet says the battery can be charged to 80 percent capacity in around 20 minutes with a specialised charger, or around seven hours on a 240V point.

“Spark EV’s battery has undergone more than 200,000 hours of testing in our global battery systems labs,” Larry Nitz, executive director of GM’s global electrification engineering team, said.

“This testing paved the way to allow our customers to do multiple DC Fast Charges daily to help alleviate range anxiety and improve convenience.”

The Spark EV is expected to go on sale in California around the middle of next year, but a wider release is still to be confirmed.

If Holden chooses to introduce the Spark EV in Australia, its most direct rival would be Mitsubishi's i MiEV, priced at $48,800 and driven by a 49kW/180Nm electric motor.

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