Considering a 2016 Spark EV as a new daily driver

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New member
Mar 19, 2024
Fargo, ND
Hi all, I'm new here so I'm sorry if this is a topic that's been beaten to death.

Recently I got a job that's less than a 5 minute commute from my apartment (I live right next to a major highway, and my workplace is also right next to the same highway). Right now I'm making payments on a 2019 Toyota Yaris, which I bought because I trust the reliability and wanted a fuel efficient vehicle. However, it's beginning to feel ridiculous that I'm paying over $300 a month for a car that I really only use to get from my house to a nearby grocery store and then to work every day.

There's currently a Spark EV 2LT with 48,000 miles on it being sold for $6,500 (I plan to negotiate that down to $5,500) at a dealership very close to me, and the range seems like it would be all I need considering every city near me has frequent busses that connect them. However, there are a few mitigating factors-

1. I live in North Dakota, which sees heavy snowfall semi-randomly, as well as wild temperature swings that can seriously impact battery range on EV's (in total, there are less than 1,000 Tesla's registered in the state because of range anxiety)

2. I only have access to a 120v wall outlet in my garage.

3. This would be my ONLY car. I am seriously trying to tighten my belt right now, and the plan here would be to eliminate my monthly car payment by selling my Yaris, paying off the loan and buying the Spark to replace it.

So, good people of this oddly specific chat forum - am I crazy? My commute is almost negligible, to the point that I've considered biking if it wasn't along a highway. I have a sheltered garage and every time I travel for work, I use a company car, fly or take the bus. Just looking for some input about how realistic it would be to use a Spark as a daily driver.
So if your commute is 5 minutes on the freeway depending on how fast you drive is about 6 to 8 miles. Yeah, a Spark EV in cold weather should easily be able to make the round trip and be ideal for a daily driver.

Couple bits of advice. If at all possible get a Spark EV that has the DC Fast charging option. It will hold its value better and make the car a whole lot more usable. Before buying the car get a Weepeak Mini Bluetooth OBD II Scanner. It just costs like $14 on Amazon. It just plugs into the OBD II port underneath the steering wheel and connects to your cell phone. Then use a free app named "Torque" or "Torque Pro" to see the big batteries capacity. Should probably read about 14 or 15 kilowatt hours. Could be a bit more or a bit less. If it says like 5 I wouldn't buy the car. Cold weather is going to make the capacity less. I have a 2014 that has a LFP lithium iron nano phosphate battery and its capacity and range starts to go down in the high 50 degrees. The range comes back when the weather warms up. Lithium iron nano phosphate battery was only available in the 2014 model. 2015 and 2016 got an NMC Nickel Manganese Cobalt battery. LFP batteries are more susceptible to the cold and lose more range than NMC batteries. But LFP batteries can be charged up to 100% multiple times per day without and appreciable damage. NMC batteries 70% to 80% daily maximum charge is recommended. LFP batteries have a longer life and are way less likely to catch fire nor do they burn as hot if they do. LFP batteries are heavier and a 2014 Spark EV is like 100 lbs heavier than the 2015 and 2016 models.

To know if a Spark EV has DC fast charging open the charge port and look for a red or orange cover. Good to look at a few photos to see the difference. If the cover was missing for some reason you might think it didn't have it when it did. I also ask the owner when the 12 volt battery was last replaced. If it is the original battery and the car starts acting weird or not starting then good chance the 12 volt battery needs to be replaced.

If you do end up buying the car, and $6,500 is a very good price, here are a few things to keep in mind. Running the heater is going to drain the battery really quick and you will lose a lot of range. So while the EV is still plugged in heat up the interior before you leave. In freezing or snow put the car into neutral when braking hard or coming to a stop. When the EV is in drive or low all your braking is coming from the front tires using regen. The physical brakes only come into play the last 2 or 3 mph. This is bad in slippery, freezing or snow conditions because it means you are only using the front two wheels to stop so skids and slides are way more likely to happen. Putting the EV into neutral forces the car to use all for wheels using the physical brakes. Never use the cruise control when raining or snow.

Spark EVs always defaults to 8 amps when using a 120 volt EVSE charger. 8 amps will get you about 3 miles of range per hour. Even if you go into the options and set it to 12 amps it will only charge at 12 amps for for one session. Then it will default back to 8 amps. So you have to set it manually to 12 amps each time. 12 amps gets you about 5 miles per hour charge. I highly encourage you to invest in a 220 or 240 EVSE. The Spark EV on a 220 or 240 EVSE charger automatically charges at 12 amps and get about 11 miles a charge per hour. Hopefully you have an electric clothes dryer in your garage. Then you can get a 220 or 240 EVSE charger that plugs right in. There is even an adapter that lets you plug in the dryer and EVSE at the same time.

Lastly I take a picture of the dashboard with the car fully charge and showing the range. Then post it here. People here can then look at it and tell you if the range looks normal or not. Also it is always a good idea to have a professional mechanic inspect the car before buying. Though I don't know how useful this really is if the mechanic has never worked on an electric vehicle before. But they can check the mechanics and see signs of hidden damage or if the car looks like its been in an accident before.

Gosh that was a long reply. I hope it works out for you. :)

PS. If it is a 2014 model you must charge it to 100% at least once a week. If it isn't the computer has a hard time guessing the range and the min, max and guess-o-meter will be all messed up. Once the car been fully charged on a 120 volt or 240 volt EVSE that will fix the problem.
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We just bought a 2015 White Spark EV with ~37,000 miles for $5,500!!! They were asking $8,500 as was another dealer for a Black 2016 / 34,000 mile unit. The 2016 Black one showed the Blue Dot average range at 56 miles after a Fast Charge, then Level II charge, then a Level I charge that I asked them to perform. The 2015 White one only got up to 36 average range!? I offered $5,250 as I left and told them I needed a Service Tech to run a test to confirm that the current battery was in good health and above the warranty spec of 11.4kw. After a day they called and dropped the price to $5,500 if they didn't have to do any more testing. I said maybe, but only if they did the Service Tech Warranty Test Report. They did it and it came in great! PASSED @ 82%, 43.9AH/54AH or ~15.58KW/19KW!!! I was worried that they would not honor their $5,500 price but they didn't understand any of my concerns or the EV battery technology, or their own report. We live Off-Grid and just wanted a cheap EV to use all our excess Solar System power we generate for 8 months of the year. This will cut the miles and costs on our Jeep SUV and Ram Diesel Truck! We only need a range of 30 miles per trip, so we think we can get 3-5 years use before we sell it and buy a 2023 Bolt with a much larger range. It is just an experiment of our Off-Grid system that seems to be working great so far. I'll try to post some photos that may help you, or PM me. If you are buying from a Chevy Dealer, insist on a Warranty Battery Capacity Test Report before you buy. You just want to see PASS, don't explain how good the battery may be if you are trying to negotiate down the price. All they seem to understand in it's a Used Car and Year / Milage determines price. For EV's it's really ALL about the BATTERY!!!
1st pic is the Tech Screen showing PASSED and the Battery Capacity / State of Health of 82% but shows the Capacity in Amp Hours units not the ??KW/19KW units I was expecting. 2nd pic in the Warranty Info 1/5 pages showing the New vs 8 year / 100,000 mile "Expected Min"of 31.5 Amp Hours. 3rd pic is the Guess-O-Meter dash after maximum charging of 28 Low - 36 Average - 43 High Mileage Range. At 82% Battery Health, I would expect 82% of New 82 Mile Range or ~67 Blue Dot Mileage Range. The last one is when we topped off with a 100% charge with a Fast Charger on our way back home from the dealer. We still had ~20 miles of range before we charged it, so I think we are around 14.5KW on the battery. Still missing 1KW of capacity / range??? Maybe it's because it had been on the dealers lot for 2-3 months or and that was winter time. The max Blue Dot average range we have seen since we got it home is 51 miles, so going up the right direction! Hopefully it keep improving with regular use and as spring temperatures warn up. Hope this helps you find a great used Spark. We are very happy with the deal we got and loving the car so far!


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What about your other driving? A Spark EV will definitely serve you well, even for a daily driver, but for your only car? In Fargo, ND? Just be aware, you'll be taking mass transit (in Fargo ND?) or renting a car to go pretty much anywhere out of range. Our Spark is our 4th car with three (well, really only two) drivers in the household. We use it all the time for all our local driving. I have a level 2 charger but haven't even bothered hooking it up for like 2 years. But every now and then, we'll go on a few short trips, then want to drive somewhere else in the evening and can't. Also, with 110V charging, that will work great most of the time charging overnight, but there'll be that one time you're home in the evening with only 10 miles of range left, but the car won't be fully charged until 3PM the next day. It's not the trip to work. It's the trip to work, then shopping, then a movie, then a relative in the next town, etc. If you truly don't drive anywhere most of the time, and are prepared to rent a car a few times a year for those special occasions, then it would be great for you. For us, we have three other cars.