By on June 28, 2012
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Just when we thought that Chevrolet couldn’t do enough to alienate their coveted “millennials”, the press release for the Chevrolet Spark just provides further evidence that the brand is trying way too hard to the point where it’s embarassing.

A press release for the Spark touts the car’s various features that will appeal to young, urban buyers; its compact size, touchscreen infotainment system and safety systems geared towards urban driving. And then, at the very bottom, there’s this.

Hooking up the Spark with 15-inch dubs, making it the only vehicle in the segment to come standard with alloy wheels and increasing its performance and style street cred.

Never mind that the slang is incorrect (“dubs”, or “d’s” denote 20″ rims, not alloys) but the whole thing just sounds horribly contrived to the point of condescension. Nothing will turn buyers away faster than this sort of thing. Then again, based on GM’s utterly asinine attempts at trying to lure younger buyers (like hiring a 37 year old “poet” as a marketing consultant). What’s unfortunate is that the Spark is probably not a bad car, either. You don’t need to stoop this low. But it’s never going to be in a rap video. Please, stop this nonsense. We can tell you don’t get it.

Thanks to Alex Nunez for the tip

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51 Comments on “Generation Why: Throw Some D’s On That Spark!...”


  • avatar
    Ex Radio Operator

    There ain’t enough gangsters, dope dealers, or basketball players to make this one a success.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    “Are those 20″s?”

    “No, they’re 10″s, but I keep em clean.”

    Maybe it’s just me and being a product of the 90s and the F&F seen and such…

    Some 90s sport compacts could pull it off, like a EG or EK civic. A modern car looks too chunky for it IMO and shoulf just stick to 15″ steelies, at least I know it’s cheap. 16″ is the minimum alloy rim size I would throw on anything made in the last 10 years that looks like it fits with the body lines.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    the problem is that its a Chevy Spark

    no one cares about it, no one dreams about it, no one wants it, no one feels special in it

    its a cheapo economy car, you drive it because you have to

    its not an Audi A4 or BMW 3 or even a Lexus

    why is chevy trying to make the Spark something it can never hope to be

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      If a “cheapo economy car” is what someone choses for their first new car, they may be just as excited as you were when you bought your turbo-diesel RWD wagon. It’s all relative.

      • 0 avatar
        carloss

        I think TonyJZX is alluding to the not very new reality that young people would rather buy used luxury sedans rather than new cheap cars.

      • 0 avatar
        danwat1234

        Yeah a lot of econoboxes can be tuned without much cost. Much better handling around corners anyway by just adding a rear sway bar. Adding lights, other features are way cheaper than buying a car already pimped out at the factory.

    • 0 avatar
      BrianL

      Do people dream about owning a Yaris, Fiesta, or Versa? Not every car can be something that people dream about.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I think you are correct and completely missing the point. Just like the Scion XB, Kia Soul and Honda Element, these cars are marketed for a much older audience. The marketing ‘implies’ they can be cool too! and that all it takes is a new car purchase.

        The Spark is not a terrible car and I believe that Big Daddy GM will sell a bunch of them to people living within urban/suburban sprawl and need something cheap and cheerful.

  • avatar
    photog02

    They’ve already fixed it.

    Hooking up the Spark with 15-inch wheels, making it the only vehicle in the segment to come standard with alloy wheels and increasing its performance and style street cred.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Except they aren’t the only small car to come with alloys standard though, and some of these smaller cars have 15″ rims or 16″ rims. My Protege 5 came with 16″ alloys. The Fiat 500 gets alloys standard in the sport and lounge – with the sport getting 16′s, the lounge gets 15′s.

      The Focus and the Fiesta both get alloys – as to a bunch of other cars standard in this class so what’s the big deal?

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    Come on people, the Spark is an inexpensive people mover. And it is about time GM, Ford and Chrysler finally got into the game concerning cars this small. To me, it is a good first attempt. No doubt, there are Euro-snobs who will never admit anything that GM builds is any good. I would guess that if the Sonic came with VW on the hood, these same people would be creaming their pants and stating how VW nailed it again.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      That’s true. Guys who are 5’6″ need something to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        smokingclutch

        Actually, being another tall small car, I’d say this is for tall people, not short ones. Short people fit just fine in 90s compacts that didn’t look like baby minivans.

        The average American female is about 5’4″, so over half the population averages less than 5’6″.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        I’m 6’5 and I just *barely* fit in a Fiesta, and can drive a friend’s 2006 Hyundai Accent, albeit painfully, and the Spark is smaller than that.

        Just sayin’.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The problem is their marketing people just don’t understand that 1) a Chevrolet Spark will never be an aspirational vehicle and 2) they clearly don’t understand what “dubs” means. The Spark a car you rent because it’s the least expensive option at Enterprise or a car you buy because the payments are as low as a used car.

      Volkswagen seems to be trying really hard to cheap out their brand, but a Golf GTI a good example of an affordable car that someone could want as a step up from basic transportation. Fun to drive with a high quality interior. I don’t care for the 18 inch rims, but the GTI trim level has much more substance than just big bold wheels.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    And how exactly is this gonna sell one single Spark? I’m dazed and confused.

  • avatar
    threeer

    It’s funny that manufacturers still go after the youth buyer…you know, the ones that have no money to buy a new car to begin with. I see the Spark going the way of the original xB…more middle-age buyers looking for an inexpensive second car. The chase for young buyers doesn’t seem to really pay much in the way of dividends in the car market, unless I’m completely missing something.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      But the original xB had something going for it, this one does not.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      You can sell an old (or middle-aged) man a young man’s car very easily. Whether or not GM is deliberately screwing up, it may not hurt their chances with the people who can actually afford to buy one.

      Plus, there are plently of millenials who’ve recently graduated, and could plausibly afford a 15k car

    • 0 avatar
      loj

      It did 20 years ago, but that’s because 10 year old cars really sucked back then.

      From the perspective of a newly-minted state college grad, think about these options now vs. 1990:

      12 year old Corvette
      10 year old 3 Series
      8 year old Nissan Z
      6 year old Mustang

      Cheap, high quality performance and near-luxury cars have killed the entry-level sporty car market. If a kid could have bought this kind of style and performance back then, the CRX sales story would have been much different.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      The xB didn’t attract the young buyers, but the Scion tC sure did. It has the youngest buyers in the industry.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Except for my wife…46 years old and loves her 2012 tC…but then, there are outliers in every statistical sample!

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        During 2011, the average age of xB buyers was 39, versus 51 for the national average:

        http://www.autonews.com/article/20110725/RETAIL07/110729941

        http://www.autotrends.org/2012/04/20/u-s-new-car-buyers-aging-except-for-buick/

        I would bet that with more data, we would see a fairly wide deviation among the buyers, i.e. quite a few younger and older/ senior buyers, but not many in between.

        Scion has done a reasonably good job with hitting its age targets. Volumes are another story.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Bwaahahaha I’m picturing some pasty white 40-50 yo GM suit running around saying “the kids really get it, really they do”. Why don’t they market it on it’s merits: sips gas, easy to park, and inexpensive. Yeah it is not a car that inspires lust but low take home pay might make this car attractive.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    When the press-release says something like “street cred”, you know it doesn’t have any. If it had an inherently cred-worthy feature, they could just say what it is.

    The world needs a new CRX. Where’s the lightweight, good-handling, efficient, and easily-tuned car? How close is the Spark to this??

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      How far oFf is the Mazda2 from what you describe (granted, it’s sort of average looking). It’s hardly lit the market on fire.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        The Mazda2 is the real deal. The only problem is engine tuneability. The 1.5 is breathless at the top-end… Last I heard, someone was developing cams to address this.

        There’s one used as a track car locally, for a tuner series. Does great against the competition in the corners, but it’s terrible on the straights. The plastic intake manifold keeps exploding due to nitro leaks, probably because there are no welds to blow. :p

        Shame it doesn’t sell better. But as people are put off from buying subcompacts due to their small size, being even smaller than the already cramped Fiesta is a pretty bad handicap.

  • avatar
    red60r

    Incorrectly calling the wheels “Dubs” is in the same bucket as the Ford TV commercials for the Taurus “Show” (SHO). Sho’ ‘nuf.

    • 0 avatar
      SimonAlberta

      Aargh! Please don’t remind me!

      I cringe every time I think of this. I was a Sales Manager at a Ford dealer when the original SHO came out and I used to berate anyone calling it “The Show” as, of course, it was always meant to be ESS–AITCH–OH as in “Super High Output”. (That in itself is a bit cringe-worthy too but that is a different discussion.)

      Then, when Ford itself started calling it The Show I found myself rowing uphill with them as now they could say I didn’t know what I was talking about.

      Aaaarghhhh again!

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    Saw 3 of these in a row in Soho yesterday….clearly part of some photo shoot. Didn’t see any stylish 20 somethings in fedoras driving them though.

    They actually looked a lot better than they come across in photos. Obviously looks like something built for the city-streets of Europe though…..it will look awkward in your typical American suburban parking lot. In cobble-stone Soho, it worked.

  • avatar
    tikki50

    Im curious what size rim can fit on the car, the wells dont appear large enough for anything over 16″. 20″ rims on this car would make it look like a matchbox car, LOL.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    I’m confused–What’s going on?

    I can’t imagine that the target demographic reads press releases.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    A reason many buyers, both young and old don’t buy these is because for 3k more, one can get a Mazda3, Focus, Civic, Jetta, Impreza, etc. One of those is better in nearly every single way.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      Agree, I see a lot more young people driving compacts, even used ones, than these sub-compacts no matter who makes them, exception is the Mini.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Except that 3k is >20% more. If you don’t have or want to spend the money, that is significant.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        +1 I remember the days when 3k would’ve been a deal breaker.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        Yes but in the financing game it’s small potatoes.

        When companies are offereing 0%, it cecomes really cheap. We financed the entirity of my wifes 3 at 0%/60, which comes out to like $377/month.

        The math on that is something like $15/$1k financed in monthly payemnt. I understand that for some people that $45/month for $3k purhase price makes a difference, and it may be closer to $50/month when you throw interest into the equation.

        But if you’re that hard up for cash that $50 on a car payment makes or breaks you, perhaps you should be looking at an older, cheaper car. Nissan has been making Versas for quite a while and from my experience, the last gen of them was really cheap, efficient, roomy transportation, and quite reliable to boot. I did a 4 hour trip in my friend’s back seat last weekend, and I was amazed by the little car.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    In this case, the press release is intended for the press (obviously) and the dealers.

    If you run:

    “Hooking up the Spark with 15-inch dubs, making it the only vehicle in the segment to come standard with alloy wheels and increasing its performance and style street cred.”

    through the Google Dealer Translator, you end up with:

    “Look, we have stuff for you to upsell. Like Scion.”

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Your point is well taken, but the world’s changed. Everyone who cares about the product can easily read the press releases now, and now blogs and news organizations regularly attach primary sources (including press releases) to the story. Potential customers are part of the audience for press releases.

      Perhaps a better way to say it to all audiences would be: “we’ve provided a number of options to help personalize the vehicle”?

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        One of my colleagues (who’s an expert in the study of Rhetoric) is always emphasizing the importance of knowing your audience. I’m certainly no expert in advertising or demographics, but I wonder if part of the problem here may be aiming at a rather narrow audience (and even failing to do that particularly well).

        Still, you never know what’s going on behind the scenes with these kinds of tactics and strategies. Advertising has become much more sophisticated and wily over the years, and there could well be more to this kind of strategy than meets the eye.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Everyone who cares about the product can easily read the press releases now”

        But they don’t.

        Also note that press releases are written with the intent so that they will be plagiarized. The party who has a message to deliver (in this case, GM) packages up soundbites in the hopes that they will be used outright or paraphrased.

        GM isn’t expecting you to read the press release. It is hoping that you will read some blog or article or view a YouTube video or whatever that passes off this content (or at least some of it) as its own. These companies know that websites and journalists need content, and are acting accordingly.

        To see what the company is trying to tell the consumer directly, it may help to look at Chevy’s website. I do think that the youth message there is a bit forced, but I say that as (a) someone is older than the target demographic and (b) who isn’t in the market to buy a city car.

        Then again, I’m not sure whether there is an alternative approach that is particularly better than something similar to this. Cars like these that don’t end up at a rental lot are going to be selling into a niche at fairly low volumes. GM can either try to control that niche to some extent, or else ignore making references to it in the hopes that that niche finds GM on its own. Ford attacked that niche head-on with the Fiesta movement, and that proved to be pretty successful for Ford; the specific approach here is different, but the unabashed effort to appeal to youth is largely the same.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    It’s embarassing when corporations latch onto yesterday’s trends. Rap music has already peaked. GM needs to latch onto dubstep.

  • avatar
    SteveRenwick

    Those guys are old enough to remember the 1970s, and their parents saying things like, “Let’s get down and rap, son. Show me where it’s at. Groovy.” Didn’t work then and it won’t work now. You’d think they would learn.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Count me in as one of the 40-something guys who drives a first-gen xB and is waiting to see the reviews on the Spark.

    Might be hard to believe, but the xB is getting to be a bigger car than I care to drive.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    I’m old fashioned, I know.

    But I like 15″ wheels (or even 14″ on a smaller car) on normal vehicles.

    And since I don’t pretend I’m a Minimum Un-sprung Weight Track Warrior, I like them to be steel; because it’s cheap and durable and alloys far too often look like ass or age poorly – not always, but too often…

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Totally agree on the size, at best maybe 16′s with suitably appropriate low profile tire for a more firm ride as long as it’s not hard and rattles out your fillings in the process.

      However, I disagree with you on steel rims. Too often they look just like what they are, black painted basic steelies sans wheel covers and most of those wheel covers look just plain tacky and cheap and get nastier looking as they get scrubbed from curbs and mangled and wobble on their respective steel rim. Nothing ages and cheapens a car’s looks than cheap, dull silver plastic wheel covers.

      Many alloys look so much better and don’t get mangled nearly as badly as a cheap plastic wheel cover.

      Now, if you can get styled steel rims like you used to get, then yeah, bring ‘em on, or better yet, for more basic trims anyway, do what Honda and others used to do, steel wheels in argent or black with a small center cap between the lug nuts and a chrome trim ring around the edge. When the wheels are painted shiny black with chrome accents, they look quite sporty if you ask me.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    “Hooking up the Spark with 15-inch dubs, making it the only vehicle in the segment to come standard with alloy wheels and increasing its performance and style street cred.”

    I showed that b**ch my Spark, b**ch’s love when you save gas, yo.

  • avatar
    mic

    Price this thing at 10K and market it for its merits and it would sell. I’ve been checking their website for the EPA ratings on the Spark for a while and they haven’t been released yet. Makes me think they aren’t that great for the size of the car.

  • avatar
    niky

    Given the small and narrow wheel wells, 15″ fit almost as snugly as dubs would on a full sized car. Perhaps that’s where the confusion begins…


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