GM cuts price of Spark EV

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Arlington, Va. — General Motors Co. said Tuesday it will cut the price of its electric Chevrolet Spark EV by 6 percent, or $1,650, amid sagging industry electric vehicle sales.

GM is cutting the price of the 2015 Spark EV to $25,995 and offering low-mileage leases of just $139 a month with nothing down. GM is also offering another $1,000 to $3,500 "bonus cash" discount in three states, which will mean the price after state and federal tax credits will be $14,995.

Currently, the Spark is only being sold in California and Oregon — and GM will add Maryland later this year. GM is considering adding other states.

Tim Mahoney, GM's chief marketing officer for Global Chevrolet, told reporters at the Washington Auto Press Association meeting Tuesday that GM was cutting the price to be competitive. "It's bringing technology to a wider audience," Mahoney said. "We operate in a competitive space and there's competitive considerations as well."

He also says the Spark is bringing new buyers to GM that have never owned a Chevrolet is a big boost.

All buyers are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. In California, buyers can get a $2,500 state tax credit and an additional $1,000 discount from GM. In Oregon, GM will offer a $3,500 discount because Oregon doesn't offer a state tax credit. The vehicle also gets some big advantages in California, including single-driver access to the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.

In California, Oregon and Maryland, a buyer could get a Spark EV for $14,995 — including a $7,500 tax credit, state credits and the $1,000 discount.

Since the vehicle went on sale in June 2013, GM has sold 2,116 Spark EVs.

Automakers face pressure from California and seven other states to build a rising number of zero-emission vehicles and are offering hefty discounts. Ford Motor Co., which cut the price of the Focus EV by $6,000 in October to $29,995, is currently offering $3,500 cash discounts on its Focus EV and zero percent financing for 60 months. Ford had cut the price by $4,000 in 2013. Ford sold 140 Focus EV cars in March after selling 1,964 last year.

"The combination of falling gas prices and rising interest in trucks and SUVs is shrinking the already tiny electric car market," said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book's "Automakers are doing what they can to get these vehicles out of showrooms and into consumers' hands, including the latest Chevrolet Spark EV lease rates that make it cheaper than the average family's monthly phone bill," Brauer said. "The range anxiety associated with electric vehicles limits their functionality for many car buyers, but if a Spark EV can serve your personal transportation needs, the cost of leasing one is now remarkably low."

After 2016 GM plans to replace the Spark EV with the Chevrolet Bolt, a pure electric, five-passenger car with double the range of the Spark EV that will be sold across the United States. A new plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt goes on sale in September.

The base price of the Volt is $34,170 before the $7,500 tax credit. It is offering $1,000 discounts on Volts.