Update: The Spark will be using nanophosphate lithium-ion battery packs from A123 Systems.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) looks like it's set to announce an "all-electric city car" according to reports in The Detroit News. The "city car" is a new class of vehicle, new to the U.S. at least, which is saddled with fewer range expectations and less weight to push around.

Green Car Reports says that the vehicle is based on the Chevrolet Spark, which will be "GM's first all-electric car sold in the U.S." (Here's a website devoted to that vehicle.) The car is already sold, with internal combustion engine, in India and England.

Will Americans open their hearts and wallets to a new class of automobiles? Intended for short trips and small loads, the city car concept is a natural use-profile for electric vehicle technology, and perhaps a natural for the next generation of eco-aware drivers.

Green Car Reports suggests that the Spark EV will be focused on California, and "perhaps other states that have adopted its emission standards," with a low volume solely to comply with California's Zero-Emissions Vehicle mandate.

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Tesla (Nasdaq:TSLA) has the all-electric, battery powered 2-seater Roadster and may soon produce the Model S 5-seater Sedan. 

Fisker has the "no-compromise" Fisker Karma, an extended-range luxury electric vehicle that seats four. The car is powered by twin 201-horsepower electric motors and can provide a range of 300 miles and a top speed of 125 miles per hour, although you might not want to try both of those things at the same time.

The Fisker is a series hybrid, and in that sense is similar to the Chevy Volt made by GM. It has a lithium-ion battery pack (with battery cells from A123 Systems) that powers the car. The Karma also comes with a gas generator to recharge the batteries when they get down to a 20-percent state-of-charge. The gas engine helps give the Fisker and Volt a longer range than pure electrics like the Tesla or Nissan Leaf. BMW and many others will have their electric vehicle offerings as well in 2011 to 2012.

We interviewed Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn a few months ago, and he said:

  • In 2010, there were 73 million cars built globally. Only 20,000 were EVs.
  • In 2020, 85 million cars will be sold and 10 percent (8.5 million) will be electric.

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The most recent report from GTM Research is Electric Vehicles 2011: Technology, Economics, and Market. More details here.

Tags: batteries, coda, doe, electric cars, electric vehicles, evs, fisker, gm, investors, karma, model s, networked grid, nissan leaf, tesla, tesla roadster