Electric vehicles represent a small, slow-growing market, and nothing will finish off EV demand faster than carmakers' failure to take the segment seriously. That's why General Motors' handling of the Chevrolet Spark EV is an encouraging sign.
One industry analyst called the new Spark EV "clearly a compliance car" -- that is, a vehicle developed purely to meet a California mandate that zero-emission vehicles account for 15.4 percent of the state's new-car sales by the 2025 model year.
The car is assembled in Korea and exported to the United States for sale in eco-friendly California and Oregon only. That sounds like a formula from the past, a stopgap effort meant to satisfy regulatory requirements more than customers.
But the car's battery is assembled by A123 Systems in Michigan, even though it would have been easy for GM to find a battery provider in Korea, a major hub of battery cell manufacturing.
Also, GM is building its own electric motor in the United States and then shipping it to Korea. The automaker is touting driving performance for the Spark, including its 400 pounds-feet of torque. For that, the GM-developed motor is crucial.
Indeed, GM's handling of the Spark EV shows that the company is not just going through the motions.