The Awesome Evolution of the Chevy Spark

The Chevrolet Spark started as a way to fill a gap in the market for small cars with great mileage, and ended up launching one of the first mass-produced EVs ever.
Written by Allison Stone
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Spark made its U.S. debut in 2013, but the ultra-compact hatchback had been sold overseas in Europe and Asia since 1998. The small-but-mighty car had a lot to offer American consumers, too. It was highly affordable, offered great fuel economy, and was surprisingly reliable given its price tag. 
Not only did it fill a gap in the American marketplace, but it stood out as a much-needed small car in Chevrolet’s lineup.
has everything you need to know about the Chevy Spark’s evolution and how this favorite among urban drivers developed its beloved reputation. 

The beginnings of the Chevy Spark

While its name might indicate such, the first generation of the Chevrolet Spark released in 2013 was not an electric or hybrid car. Rising gas prices in America were what made Chevrolet decide to start producing the Spark in the U.S., as it had an affordable sticker price and got great mileage. 
When it was first released in the U.S., it was priced at about $12,000, and Chevrolet hasn’t strayed too far. The car is being discontinued after this year, but the 2022 Chevrolet Spark still offers a modest starting MSRP of just $13,600. 
The 1.2-liter 4-cylinder engine produced 84 horsepower and 83 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission came standard, but a 4-speed automatic was also available. 
At the time of the Spark’s release, Americans seemed to be looking for smaller cars. In spite of its smaller size, the Spark still was able to comfortably fit four adults, while also offering city dwellers a car that could squeeze into just about any parking spot. 
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The Chevy Spark EV

According to data from
Kelley Blue Book
, From 2013 to 2016, each new model year came with a series of improvements that made it better and better. 
The 2014 model came with a more efficient continuously variable automatic transmission, replacing the 4-speed automatic that came with the flagship model. It also offered automatic headlight control and standard navigation through the smartphone-enabled app. The new automatic transmission increased fuel economy to an overall 39 mpg. 
2014 was also the year that Chevrolet released the first all-electric
Spark EV
to test markets in California and Oregon. The Spark EV had a higher starting price of $27,497. 
The tiny hatchback EV was equipped with a 21-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that was only capable of 82 miles of range, but the electric motor created 130 horsepower and offered an impressive 400 lb-ft of torque, making this tiny car capable of going from zero to 60 mph in just 7.65 seconds. 
MORE: Chevy Spark vs. Mitsubishi Mirage: Both Aren’t Too Great Small City Cars 

2015 through 2016 models

Both the electric and gas-powered versions of the Spark continued to get upgrades. In 2015, 4G, LTE, and Wi-Fi connectivity capabilities were added. Chevrolet also decreased the battery size slightly in order to shed some weight from the Spark, losing some power in torque and horsepower as well. The new battery was capable of just as much range as the previous 21-kWh battery pack:82 miles. 
In 2016, the Spark got its first style enhancement as well. The exterior was freshened up, and the interior was loaded up with added amenities, as well as new convenience and safety features. The Spark EV also started being sold in Maryland in addition to California and Oregon. 
The 2016 gas-powered model sported a more powerful 1.4-liter engine capable of producing 98 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque. The 2016 Spark EV comes with a 19 kWh battery capable of producing 140 horsepower, 327 lb-ft of torque, and a projected range per charge of 82 miles. 
The Spark was eventually discontinued in 2016 when Chevrolet introduced the Bolt EV. 
MORE: Remembering the Pink Chevy Spark, Now That The Hatchback is Being Discontinued

The legacy of the Spark

While it may not seem like much, the Spark was notable not only as Chevrolet’s smallest and most affordable car, but also in how it provided the platform for one of the first mass-produced electric cars in America. 
Electric cars have come a long way since the humble Spark EV, but the short-lived electric hatchback certainly made a big impact on the automotive industry. 
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