Six months ago, 17-year-old Alex Prell of Studio City, Calif., became the first owner of a Chevrolet Spark EV, a gas-free mini car powered by an advanced electric motor and battery system that gives it a top speed of 90 mph and an EPA-estimated 82 miles of driving range. We caught up with Alex and his dad Rick Prell to see how the Spark EV ownership experience has gone so far.
FastLane: Alex, why did you pick the Spark EV for your first car?
Alex Prell: Originally, my dad told me that he’d buy me a car as long as I paid for all the gas. So, I decided to look at electric cars instead. We were looking at the Honda Fit EV when we heard about the Spark EV. About six months ago, we went to Keyes Chevrolet in Van Nuys and they’d just gotten one in the night before. So, we took it for a test drive.
FL: How was that?
AP: I really liked it from the start. It’s smooth, comfortable, really quiet, and a lot of fun to drive because of the instant torque. It’s really quick. I fell in love with that immediately.
Rick Prell: Alex is a real car buff, especially cars known for outstanding performance. Alex, what were you telling me about the Spark EV versus a Porsche?
AP: That up to 35 or 40 miles per hour, my little Spark EV can beat a Porsche 911 in a drag race, because of its instant torque.
FL: We’re guessing your dad won’t let you drag race with it though. So, how do you drive it?
AP: To school and back on weekdays and as a family car on weekends.
FL: What do your friends think about it?
AP: At first they just thought it was a cute little car, but they didn’t understand what an electric car is all about. Once I explained the technology to them, they instantly thought it was cool. It’s really grown on my girlfriend, too. Her dad drives a Chevy Volt. As efficient as that car is, I’ve got it beat, because my car doesn’t use any gas at all.
FL: Do you ever get range anxiety?
AP: No. Actually, I’ve been getting more miles per charge than the estimates. I’ve definitely come close to running out of charge though. I kind of make a game out of it, shutting off energy-draining things like the radio and air conditioning, to see how close I can come to zero charge before I plug-in at home.
FL: Since you’re not paying for gas, is your dad making you pay for the electricity?
AP: Not really. The amount of electricity my Spark needs to charge is hardly anything at all, and I charge it every night.
RP: Considering the incentives that come with an EV purchase in the state of California, there has been no financial downside to getting this car at all. It’s really paid for itself.
AP: And there’s no oil changes. So, there’s practically no maintenance costs. That’s cool, too.
FL: Do you consider yourself an environmentalist, Alex?
AP: Yeah, especially since I started driving a Spark EV. It just makes so much sense to drive gas free.
FL: Rick, now that your son is driving an EV, what will be your next car?
RP: It’ll probably be an EV, especially since we have a dedicated car charger now, situated right in front of the house. That really adds value to our house, because we live in a very environmentally conscious area. It really makes a positive statement.
For more on the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV, visit chevrolet.com.