GM Finishes Testing the DC “Combo” Fast Charge Station


GM test charge station that can provide 80 percent charge in 20 minutes

For several days this summer, GM was joined by BMW to conduct tests and assess the functionality of the new DC “Combo” Fast Charge stations. When testing wrapped up, engineers representing both automakers were satisfied with the capabilities of the charge stations, which will allow drivers of electric vehicles to achieve approximately 80 percent charge in just 20 minutes.

The combination of AC and DC charging is made possible with the combo connector, which makes it much easier for a variety of electric vehicles to utilize the DC Fast Charging stations. Not only is the system convenient, it is efficient. It works with a single charge port on the cars and allows for a faster rate of electricity transfer.

This increased convenience and speed is a significant help to current drivers of electric vehicles who are not able to charge their vehicles at home on all or any nights. Reducing the need to have continuous access to an at-home charger also overcomes one of the main barriers to widespread adoption of electric vehicles, which is an advantage for automakers.

The Society of Automotive Engineers’ new DC fast charge industry standard will be useful to a range of electric vehicles in the near future. The Chevrolet Spark EV is one of the first vehicles expected to reap the benefits of the enhanced convenience created by these charging stations.

ABB was one of the suppliers that participated in this testing along with Aker Wade, Eaton and IES. “This successful testing is an important milestone that underscores our commitment to enable the next generation of electric vehicles,” said Cal Lankton, director of ABB’s EV Charging Infrastructure for North America. “By offering a broad charging portfolio, we can fully support the needs of all EV drivers and infrastructure providers.”

A strong motivator encouraging the industry-coordinated effort behind the testing to confirm the software and hardware of the DC Fast Change system was to accelerate the release of SAE Combo DC Fast Charge Infrastructure. The cooperative spirit was aided by the fact that the release of this technology will provide an advantage to so many engineers and automakers all over the world.

“This unprecedented cooperation among OEMs and equipment suppliers demonstrates the maturity of this important technology that will help speed the adoption of electric vehicles around the world,” said Britta Gross, director of advanced vehicle commercialization policy at GM.

One important factor in hastening the success of the electric car industry is ensuring that common standards are applied to the design of emerging technology. Towards this end, the majority of automakers had previously adopted the SAE 120V/240V AC connector so that all plug-in vehicles would be able to utilize any charging infrastructure. In a similar move of solidarity, eight automakers – GM, Chrysler, Ford, BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler, Porsche and Audi – agreed to adopt the SAE combo fast charge connector. This commitment protects the DC Fast Charge connector standardization.

This advance in the technology that underlies the use of electric vehicles will result in myriad benefits. Increased convenience will improve the lives of current electric vehicle drivers and this will entice new consumers to adopt these types of vehicles, benefiting GM and the environment.

This article is presented by Jack Maxton Chevrolet in Worthington, Ohio.
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Vehicle Profile: 2014 Chevy Spark


The micro-car segment-beater keeps getting better

A quick scan of the specifics reveals that the new 2014 Chevy Spark is the only city car that delivers on the “Less is more” premise in all the ways that matter most. The 2014 Spark raises the mini-car stakes with new features that include a more efficient continuously variable transmission, exterior design enhancements, fresh personalization accessories, improved connectivity and an emissions-free, all-electric EV model. The new Spark, on sale here at Jack Maxton Chevrolet in Worthington, Ohio, leaves the rest of the mini-car pack floundering in its bite-size carbon footprint.

Introduced just last year, the Chevy Spark immediately captured the hearts of urban drivers, with its highest sales coming in traffic-dense cities such as San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Credit goes in large part to its affordable MSRP of just $12,995, its bounty of interior space, abundant safety features and practical five-door hatchback design – all qualities the competition can’t match.

A 1.2-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine powers the Spark. Sophisticated engine technology such as dual continuously variable cam phasing helps the Ecotec produce a lively 84 hp and 83 lb/ft of torque and return an EPA-estimated 39 mpg highway with the standard five-speed manual transmission. Replacing last-year’s four-speed automatic, an available continuously variable transmission (CVT) offers seamless power delivery for better acceleration and improved fuel economy. In fact, with an EPA-estimated 39 highway mpg, the CVT-equipped Spark now matches its manual-transmission sibling, and it bests the comparably equipped Fiat 500 and Scion iQ by two mpg. Unlike the Fiat 500, the Spark runs on lower-priced regular unleaded gasoline.

This year, Chevy also gives eco-conscious buyers the Spark of their dreams. Available soon, the 2014 Chevy Spark EV (MSRP $26,685) features an all-electric powertrain that produces a staggering 400 lb/ft of torque – more than a Ferrari 458 Italia. Sure to be a fixture on the urban landscape, the Spark EV boasts 128 city MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent), an average range of 82 miles and sporty point-and-dart acceleration. In fact, the run from zero-to-60 mph takes less than 7.6 seconds. The available 240-volt charging system delivers a full charge in less than seven hours, while a DC fast-charging station can provide an 80 percent charge in 20 minutes. You can also count on the Spark EV for the long haul – Chevy backs the car’s lithium-ion battery pack with an eight-year/100,000-mile limited warranty.

You can also feel secure at speed, thanks to a class-leading array of safety and driver-assistance technology. Complementing the standard four-wheel antilock brakes and StabiliTrak stability and traction controls is a web of ten airbags, including front-knee units for the driver and passenger and side-curtain airbags that protect occupants in the front and rear seats. Standard Hill Start Assist is also on hand to keep the vehicle from rolling back when you start out on an incline.

From its new automatic halogen headlamps and daytime running lights to its integrated rear spoiler and available exhaust-outlet chrome surround, the Spark features street-wise styling and a host of eye-catching color options, including Lime, Grape Ice and Salsa. A touch of stealth––the rear door handles are hidden within the C pillars––gives this five-door hatchback the look of a three-door runabout, while its diminutive, 144.7-inch overall length makes it just the right size for curbside parking. The small Spark gives occupants ample space to maneuver, offering the best overall rear-seat room and maximum cargo volume (31.2 cubic feet) in the segment.

In just its first year of production, the Spark earned a Wards “10 Best Interiors” award. The editors at Car and Driver deemed the interior “surprisingly upscale” with “an air of richness.” Textured materials, comfortable seats and an intuitive center console layout all contribute to the next-level ambience. For drivers who like to stand apart from the big-city pack, the Spark provides a bunch of personalization options. Available trim hues let you color-coordinate the interior with the car’s exterior, while available accessories such as a Z-spec Grille, front foglamps and roof-rack cross rails ensure that your Spark speaks your language, and no one else’s.

The Spark also shines on the personal infotainment front. The available MyLink system offers smartphone integration, a seven-inch color touch-screen (easily the largest in this class) and a six-speaker SiriusXM Satellite Radio audio system. Put your Spark in park, and you can look at photo and video content on the touch-screen. MyLink also lets you connect to the BringGo in-dash navigation app, which offers turn-by-turn directions, live traffic data, 3D maps and a “Where Am I?” locator. Unlike many GPS-enabled apps, BringGo stores maps to your smartphone, so you can access them even when your phone signal is weak.

Offered in LS, 1LT and 2LT trim levels, the Spark out-values the competition where it counts most – in standard features. Air conditioning and power windows both come standard on the entry LS model, as do a tilt-wheel steering column, 60/40-split/folding rear seats and 15-inch silver painted aluminum wheels. Climbing the model ladder delivers features like heated front seats, leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, and new power-adjustable, body-color folding outside mirrors with heat and integrated turn-signal indicators.

When you’re ready to bounce in the best city car bar none, call or come in for a test drive of the new 2014 Chevy Spark. www.jackmaxton.com.

Vehicle Details: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu Changes


Building on a 2013 model refresh, the Chevrolet Malibu, on sale now here at Jack Maxton Chevrolet in Worthington, Ohio, heads into 2014 with an updated design, revised interior, better performance, even more rear legroom, improved fuel economy, new safety features and an enhanced driving experience.

Last year, an Edmunds.com review noted, “The fully redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibu…with its added refinement, feature content and efficiency…[is] a top-tier choice.” The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu builds on that solid foundation, piling on the value and presenting an even stronger choice in the midsize sedan segment.

The standard engine in the four-door, five-passenger 2014 Malibu is a powerful new 2.5-liter Ecotec four-cylinder that produces 196 hp and 186 lb/ft of torque – more than the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. Advanced engine technologies––including Variable Intake Valve Actuation, Intake Valve Lift Control, direct fuel injection and a new start/stop feature that shuts down the engine during brief stops––team up to deliver an estimated 23 mpg city and 35 mpg highway (up five percent and three percent, respectively, over 2013) and fewer emissions. During engine restarts in situations like stops at traffic lights, an auxiliary battery provides seamless power for electric accessories such as the power windows, climate control and audio systems, etc. Revised six-speed automatic transmission shift points and quicker shifts improve driving dynamics and overall performance, too.

For those who crave more power, the available 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder produces 259 hp and a whopping, best-in-segment 295 lb/ft of torque, 14 percent more torque than last year’s model. The 2.0-liter turbo four’s torque even beats that of competitors’ six-cylinder engines.

The 2014 Malibu, which shares some suspension components with the all-new 2014 Impala, offers a smoother, more refined driving experience. Rebound springs that are internal to the struts enable more precise damper calibration while also improving body roll control and weight transfer during acceleration and cornering. The standard electric rack and pinion variable-effort power steering system has been recalibrated, and revisions to brake system components––which include brake assist, corner brake control, hydraulic brake fade assist, drag torque control and electronic brake force distribution––make for more confident stopping performance.

Outside, you’ll immediately notice the new front fascia. The more prominent lower grille, narrower upper grille and wider grille openings resemble those of the Impala and create more consistency across the brand. Moving inside, the more refined interior features redesigned front seatbacks that increase rear-seat knee room by 1.25 inches. New cushion sculpting and revised seat-cushion material allow rear-seat passengers to find a more comfortable, deeper position, and the center console has a new armrest for improved comfort, plus thoughtful features like storage space for two cell phones.

Chevrolet engineered the 2013 Malibu to meet the safety requirements of customers at home and around the world. Not only was the Malibu the first 2013 midsize car to earn a “5-Star Overall” score from the National Highway Traffic Safety administration and a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2013 Malibu earned the highest possible independent crash-test safety ratings in Europe, South Korea, Australia and China, as well. The 2014 Malibu further ups the ante with newly available Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, to help make changing lanes and backing out of parking spots worry free. Those features are in addition to a hefty list of standard safety features that includes 10 airbags, four-channel antilock brakes with the advanced brake technologies mentioned previously, StabiliTrak® electronic stability control, full-function traction control and an available rearview camera.

“We made changes within 18 months, demonstrating an unprecedented commitment to make the Malibu the best car it can be,” said Ken Kelzer, executive chief engineer for global full-size and midsize cars. “The 2014 Malibu has been engineered to deliver more precise ride and handling that is on par with more expensive sport sedans.”

Stop by today to learn more about the 2014 Malibu, and be among the first to get a test drive when the new Malibu arrives this fall.