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TheStreet Open House

The Chevy Volt: Driving Local Garages Into the Ground

4. Chevrolet Spark EV: As I wrote more than a year ago, after Volt comes Chevy Spark EV. This is a smaller, all-electric car made in Korea. It will cost approximately $10,000 less than the Volt, at $32,500 or less, before tax adjustments.

Production of the Chevy Spark starts this summer, and at least in the beginning, it will be sold only in California, Oregon and South Korea. It has an electric motor that is unusually strong, with 400 pound-foot worth of torque, similar to a Ferrari 458 -- but at barely 10% of the Ferrari's price.

Chevrolet Spark EV is clearly the car you want if you want Ferrari power. But you'll pay only $22,500 after California tax adjustments. That sure beats paying a quarter-million dollars! Surely some prospective Volt buyers are holding out for this one.

5. BMW i3: I wrote in 2012 that the BMW i3 will be the 2014 car of the year. It may be the most dramatic new kind of car we have seen in well over a generation, arguably besting both the Tesla and the Volt.

The BMW i3 is basically a Tesla, but made in carbon fiber and with a motorcycle engine as on-board generator, so you will never risk getting stranded. On top of that, the interior and exterior design of BMW i3 is both stunning and supremely practical. I have been predicting for the last year that it will be the most-talked-about car when it hits U.S. streets this December.

Clearly, some prospective Volt owners have been holding out for the BMW i3 and will keep Volt sales lower than otherwise in 2013 and well into 2014.

Conclusion: Don't be in the car service business.

Going forward, being in the car service business is like trying to service the hard disk drives inside iPads and iPhones. It's pointless; there's nothing to do. Electric cars need their tires rotated, but little or nothing else. Even the brakes -- thanks to the regenerative brakes on all electric cars -- will likely last 20 to 50 years for most drivers.

Close to 125,000 electric cars will be sold in the U.S. this year, up a little over 100% from last year's 52,500. In 2011, the number was under 18,000. As for 2014, we don't have a good idea yet, but it should be dramatically more than this year's 125,000.

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