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Friday, November 30, 2012

2014 Chevy Spark - Can You Justify $20,000 More For An Electric Motor

I love the idea of electric cars. I drive a Prius that is an electric car sometimes. I ride around my neighborhood in a golf cart pretending to be in with the in-crowd.

New cars models are coming out of GM - Fiat - Ford so fast - I cannot keep up with them. With the exception of the Corvette or the Impala - I couldn't re-call a familiar vehicle in the lineup. Several times when I rented a car - they gave me a forgettable Cobalt.

The Chevy Volt is a fine hybrid - expensive - and still seems out of reach of the common customer. 

This year GM released the Chevy Spark. Immediately I got all excited and thought it was an all-electric car. It turned out that it had a gasoline engine. Isn't that false advertising to name a car - Spark - and not have an electric motor in it? GM fixed that - in 2014 the Spark will have an electric motor. 

Since the gasoline powered Spark can be had at a discount for $13,000 - I thought - surely it would not cost more than a few thousand dollars to swap engines. After all - I only paid $3000 for my complete golf cart. You can imagine my surprise when the energized Spark was wearing a $33,000 price tag. Yes - the government will give you a $7500 tax credit - but should we be relying on tax breaks as a reason to buy a car? Even with that the price of $26,000 is double the price of the gasoline version.

Let's do the math. 100,000 miles in 10 years at 30 MPG at maybe $4.00 a gallon would add up to a total of $13,000 for gasoline. 

If you add the price of gasoline ($13,000) to the price of a gas powered Spark ($13,000) - you come up with $26,000. That is still $7000 less than the sticker on an electric Spark ($33,000). If you figure in the federal tax credit - you can still buy a gas Spark - buy gasoline for 10 years - and still be way ahead of the game. Don't forget - it costs money to plug the thing in.

What am I missing? Electric cars have thousands less parts. They should take less labor to assemble. They should be way easier to service. No gas tank - no transmission - no motor oil - no exhaust pipe - on and on. 

On just a dollars and sense decision - it makes no sense. Yes - electric cars are quieter - yes they do not pollute as much - if you do not include the pollution to create the electricity. Greenies love to run around thinking they are saving the planet. But one of the reasons the global economy is such a mess is because people often waste more money trying to do the politically correct thing than makes sense or cents.

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