GM Spark EV: Connected, but Not Often to the Electrical Outlet

1 - GM Spark EV: Connected, but Not Often to the Electrical Outlet
2 - GM Rolls Out the Chevrolet Spark EV
3 - Miles per Gallon
4 - Touch-Screen Controls
5 - The Modern Dashboard
6 - Bluetooth Connection
7 - Mobile Navigation
8 - Siri In-Car
9 - Siri Voice Command
10 - Retaining Value
11 - Opportunity for Developers
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GM Spark EV: Connected, but Not Often to the Electrical Outlet

by Michelle Maisto

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GM Rolls Out the Chevrolet Spark EV

GM is just beginning to roll out the 2014 Spark EV. It's Chevy's first all-electric "mini car" and the most efficient retail electric vehicle (EV) in the United States, according to GM.

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Miles per Gallon

The Spark EV gets the equivalent of 119 miles per gallon and is said to offer $9,000 in fuel savings over five years. Fully loaded, it's priced just over $27,000. But with the tax credit figured in, it can be had for under $20,000.

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Touch-Screen Controls

Distracted driving is a major focus for automakers. The Spark EV's 7-inch touch-screen tries to put all a driver would require at his or her fingertips, preventing the need to look down and away from the road.

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The Modern Dashboard

The Spark EV keeps a driver constantly alerted to the car's battery situation. When a charge is needed—or needed soon—it uses GPS to locate nearby charging stations.

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Bluetooth Connection

Apple's software prefers to be plugged in, but the car can connect to any type of smartphone via a Bluetooth connection. Any audio-based smartphone apps—such as Pandora or Stitcher—can be accessed by the car.

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Mobile Navigation

Saving the driver the cost of having navigation included in the car, the Spark EV can access navigation software through the user's phone. It downloads the maps to the car, so it's not reliant on the phone maintaining reception.

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Siri In-Car

In addition to music and navigation apps, the Spark EV can connect to Siri by pushing a button on the steering wheel.

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Siri Voice Command

Siri's familiar chime plays through the car's speakers and makes itself known on the screen. A driver can do things like dictate a text message to Siri and ask questions, though Siri won't offer answers that aren't completely straightforward and might distract the driver.

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Retaining Value

Tim Nixon, executive director, CTO and applications delivery at GM's Global Connected Consumer group, said that connectivity in cars is "not a matter of if, but when," and that "applications create the ability to make a car better over time."

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Opportunity for Developers

Applications in vehicles will eventually do everything from offer diagnostics to recommend nearby restaurants that a driver's friends like. GM says the cars are platform-agnostic—from BlackBerry to Firefox—and if a smartphone is Bluetooth-enabled, it will be able to speak with a vehicle and share appropriate content.

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