Sales person Ron Dunahee at Barker Chevrolet in Lexington Illinois was kind enough to let us test drive this Chevrolet Spark EV for a few hours.
We let him know that we were staying at the Marriott Hotel in Uptown Normal IL. Mentioned that they had a Level 2 charger and that we would put it to use. I asked the front desk in advance if they had any guest coming in that day that would be using it. Was told it doesn’t get much use. There are several Level 2 stations within that block. Another set of 2 are located inside the Marriott parking garage. Five more Level 2 chargers are inside Uptown Station Parking Deck across the street next door to Amtrak.
Charging an electric car is simple. Just open the charge port and connect the charging cable. With some charging stations you will have to provide payment. I thought this Marriott Level 2 was free to use – it is – but when we plugged the cable in I wasn’t seeing what I expected. Keep in mind this was my first time doing this.
The dash in front of steering wheel had a message stating the cable was plugged in. But gave no indication charging was taking place. Center console didn’t give an alert to charging taking place. Example – in a Tesla Model S the center console clearly lets you know charging is going on. I had the Spark EV manual on my phone – but was in a hurry and didn’t feel like reading.
I guess the Chevrolet Volt is setup similar to the Spark EV. When plugged in and charging there is a LED light alert that can be seen on the dash dead center. You can see this clearly outside the car once you know what to look for. Colors and flashing not flashing indicate charging status.
The car charged to what I think would be 80% – this is the optimal charge level ( helps preserve battery life ) – unless driving very long distance. We had 50 some miles left before hooking up. Had about 71 miles available when we got back to the car. Indicator showed that charge was complete.
When replacing the charge cable I did something stupid. I’m blaming it on running on 2 1/2 hours sleep – but I knew better. I didn’t connect the cable to it’s port – just wrapped it like a car wash vacuum hose. Luckily the Marriott Valet fixed my stupid mistake. I made sure to thank him when he passed us as we ordered dinner.
I should have shown a close-up of the cord plugged in. I did show the “Combined Charging System” SAE J1772 connector. Chevy Spark is the first electric car in United States to include this new standard. Basically combines regular charging and fast charging into one port / one connector. I linked to the technical specifications and more detailed explanation below.
As far as I know both Chevy Spark EV’s are still for sale. We still haven’t gotten firm numbers on our end. So we can’t make a purchase decision. Supposedly there is a STOP SALE order on Nissan LEAF right now. So we can’t compare what we can get for our money.
These electric cars should be hard to come by in Illinois. Spark EV is a GM compliance car for California and Oregon only!! So availability in our area is limited.
Contact Ron Dunahee ( email link ) Please be sure to let him know you were referred to him by this website – thanks.
Barker Chevrolet Sales: (888) 597-2618
CHAdeMO is the trade name of a quick charging method for battery electric vehicles