GM: 500,000 green cars by 2017, Spark EV debuts next week

General Motors, seeming more confident in the face of rising Volt plug-in hybrid sales, looks to be expanding its vehicle electrification efforts.

Primarily through its brand Chevrolet, the Detroit automaker hopes to significantly bump up the number of green cars it produces by 2017. It begins this process next week with the domestic unveiling of its latest electrified car, as well as developing new smartphone apps to help with range anxiety and public charging.

Plans by GM now call for the company to have up to 500,000 vehicles on the road with some form of electrification by 2017, with a specific focus on plug-in technology.

It already seems to be well on its way to this number, noting it hopes to “sell more than 50,000 vehicles this year with electrification – between the Volt and eAssist light electrification technology on the Buick LaCrosse, Regal and Chevrolet Malibu. The 2014 Chevrolet Impala also will offer an eAssist model when it debuts next year. Joining all of these as well is the new Cadillac ELR, which we covered when it debuted last month.

The latest vehicle joining these ranks will be the Spark EV, set to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show the last week of November. It will go on sale next year in certain U.S. markets and South Korea, with other markets to be announced soon. Capable of going 0-60 miles per hour in under eight seconds, it will be capable of DC fast charging its over 20 kWh lithium-ion battery pack up to 80 percent of battery capacity in approximately 20 minutes. Charging can also be completed in less than seven hours using a dedicated 240V charge.

Under its hood the Chevy Spark EV will have an oil-cooled, permanent magnet motor that produces at least 100 kW (130 hp) and instantaneous torque of about 400 lb.-ft. with the coaxial drive unit. Its motor and drive unit, noted GM, will be manufactured beginning in early 2013 at its transmission plant in White Marsh, Md., near Baltimore. It builds upon what’s been learned from the Volt, using many of the same components and systems.

To help future Spark EV owners as well as Volt drivers further enjoy their electrified driving experiences, GM brand OnStar recently showed two new smartphone apps it says addresses “the possible range anxiety of electric vehicles and the cost of public charging.” The Spark EV Waypoint tab, which will be integrated into OnStar’s RemoteLink mobile app, will help “plot a waypoint route with recommended charging stations if the route is beyond a single charge’s range.”

As for the cost of public charging, a prototype “Park-Tap-Charge” app being considered would allow “EV owners to simply tap their smartphone against a charging station, which will automatically show payment options that, once accepted, will initiate the flow of electricity.” Information displayed would include the hourly rate of charging, the estimated time for a full charge and the estimated cost of a full charge.

EarthTechling will be on hand next week at the Los Angeles Auto Show to bring you coverage of the debut of the Spark EV, as well as talking with GM and taking a look at other green car technology being showcased at this event.

Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling