By on July 20, 2012

Glancing at its diminutive footprint and tiny engine specs, one would expect superlative fuel economy from the Chevrolet Spark, right? Wrong.

According to GM Inside News,

the Spark with manual transmission [is rated] at 32 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, while the four-speed automatic will wear ratings of 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway

This is in a 2,200 lb car with a 1.2L 4-cylinder engine. I’m not one to invoke bygone tin-cans like the Honda CRX HF in the name of fuel efficiency and the pox that modern cars are on our landscape, but GM must be able to do better than this, given what they’re working with. If not, then why bother at all with the Spark? The Cruze and Sonic make this car look like a farce.

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107 Comments on “Chevrolet Spark Misses The 40 MPG Mark...”


  • avatar
    challenger2012

    Maybe the MPG rating is for the racing version. The Eco model is yet to be released.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Maybe it wouldn’t move with their usual CAFE gearing so they had to gear it for the real world. The fuel consumption seen by buyers will reflect that is is a light car with a small engine.

  • avatar
    mike978

    On paper it doesn`t look great but a few things to consider :

    1. real world economy is likely to be better than EPA estimates and better than those bigger cars mentioned – physics does have an effect. Better to underestimate and over deliver than do a Hyundai and regularly come up short.
    2. the highway figure is disappointing for them, but the city figure of 32 is substantially better than a compact car (Cruze is 26, Corolla is 27) and comparable to sub compacts like the Yaris is 30 (and 38 highway so the same complaint can be made of it).
    3. the car is $4000 cheaper than the Cruze, so whilst on paper the fuel economy savings are not that much there is still the purchase price difference.

    I agree with the thrust of what DK says and I would have expected better HWY, and I am not in the market for any sub-compact car so I don`t have a dog in this fight.

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      I bet the poor highway mileage is due to the ancient 4-speed auto, so the engine runs at sky high revs on the freeway. Though that doesn’t explain why the 6-speed manual is only 1mpg higher. Maybe it’s really short geared for maximum acceleration?

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        How much power/torque does the Spark have? It could use tight gearing to make up for the little engine.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        It is rated as 84hp and 83lb/ft torque.
        I just hope they have learnt from Toyota and Honda and have realistic fuel economy values that owners regularly hit or exceed.

        Could someone explain to me how the city figures drops so much going from manual to auto? I have noticed the same happens with the Mazda CX5 and don’t recall such large difference (3-4 mpg, >10%) in the past.

      • 0 avatar
        benzaholic

        @Mike978

        These days, squeezing better EPA ratings is not just about transmission gear ratios and final drive ratios and aerodynamics, a lot of the tweaking comes from fuel cutoff when you lift the Go pedal. This event is probably much more common in the EPA City cycle, so fuel cutoff strategies cannot improve EPA Highway estimates as easily.

        An automatic transmission may also negatively affect how effectively the engine control programmers can use techniques like that.

      • 0 avatar
        Byron Hurd

        4th gear in the auto and 6th gear in the manual are probably very close to each other numerically. EPA’s highway numbers aren’t for constant speed. Where the auto will be hurting is in mild-throttle acceleration because it either has to load up in 4th or down shift to 3rd, which will be a much bigger gap than a 6-5 shift in the manual.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Fuel cutoff at lift throttle can’t be a rapid as you’d like. Snap closed throttle usually creates a spoke in NOx. That is why most cars today have that annoying rev hang when you lift the throttle. I have not heard of an engineering solution to that problem yet, so this would be the one real downside of clean cars.

        If this car actually obtains these numbers, well that is not so bad. But GM, like Hyundai are known for inflated EPA numbers so I’d imagine that most buyers are going to be suspicious….

      • 0 avatar
        mic

        The fact is this car really needed to hit the “magic” 40 to justify the price they want for it. If it started at $10k it might sell but starting t $12,200 one might as well buy a Versa, get the mileage and the roominess and be done with it.

      • 0 avatar
        danwat1234

        Shorter cars are less aerodynamic than longer regular sized cars.. Same thing with the Prius C and Scion Iq, smart cars.
        So HWY economy can suffer.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Mike978,

      I agree. Two other thoughts – - –

      1) There are other surprises along the same lines: why did a Mercedes “Smart-For-Two” get ONLY 40-45 mpg? For that vehicle size, passenger capacity, engine size, and transmission, it should have gotten > 50!
      2) Small engine size may often be counter-prodcuctive if the engine is forced to work too hard. I once had a 1974 Dodge D100 PU with 225 ci Slant 6 that struggled to get 16-17 mpg. A friend with identical truck but 318 ci V-8 routinely got 18-19.

      —————

    • 0 avatar

      Mike,

      Not sure which numbers you are looking at for the Mazda CX-5. Both manual and automatic transmissions are rated at 26 mpg for the city cycle. There is a 3 mpg difference in highway ratings with the auto at 32 and manual at 35.

      BTW – I also would suspect the Spark’s 4-speed automatic for that mediocre highway mileage. In the other hand, most Spark buyers are probably going to do most of their driving in the city cycle and that city mileage will be welcome in that case.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Tagbert – I should have clarified that for the CX5, it was the, to me, large difference in highway fuel economy that made me sit up and take note. Then when I saw the Spark having a similar difference, but with city, I wondered why.

        Thanks to the others who helped explain the differences. I look forward to seeing if these figures are accurate – Edmunds will hopefully include it in one of their fuel economy comparison/long term tests.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Subcompacts really don’t get any better mileage than compacts on the HWY, in part due to aerodynamics (the Spark’s hatch shape doesn’t help) and in part (usually) due to transmissions with fewer no. of gears.

      Where there is a noticeable improvement is in the city rating.

  • avatar

    so it gets the same gas mileage as the 200-400lb heavier(model/options), 1.6l equipped ford fiesta that came out 2 years ago. bravo GM, bravo.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    This will be a fantastic deal at $8k new…

  • avatar
    jeoff

    32 city is pretty good. How many cheap cars are better? Given its size, I would much rather use it around the city than cruising on the highway anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      W.

      My ’12 Focus five-speed manages 34 mpg city (and I have a heavy foot), and on my last highway trip (400+ miles) at a steady 70-72, we managed 37 mpg…so you tell me how good those numbers are.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        You can’t compare real world numbers to EPA. You can barely compare EPA to EPA anymore because the system is getting gamed. If you know what you’re doing with a stick, you can crush the EPA numbers. I regularly get 40mpg out of a car that was rated at 32 highway. That’s why I get annoyed by people saying that automatic transmissions get better mileage than manuals now because the EPA ratings sometimes better. Not to mention the so called “experts” at Edmunds who can’t even get EPA highway out of a manual Veloster under ideal conditions. Either Hyundai is seriously fudging the numbers, or Edmunds doesn’t know what they’re doing.

  • avatar
    Off a Cliff

    As Mike978 pointed out, it’s not about the highway economy. No one has ever stated that the Spark’s hwy economy would be stellar, they said that it would have great fuel economy. Short/tall slaughters aerodynamics anyway.

    City mileage, and whatever its combined figure will be, are very good. Note that the standard focus and skyactiv mazda3 get about 33 combined with mid – high 20ies city, whereas the Spark gets 32mpg city. 32 mpg city is very very good, especially when no one claims this is a road trip machine.

    Get your Cruze for cruising, it’s what it was made to do. Get your Spark to live in a city and do city driving (or an iMiev for that matter).

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “given what they’re working with”

    They’re working with a tiny engine that may not be sufficient to move the Spark effortlessly. That means it has to rev higher, drinking more dino juice in the process.

    They’re also working with a less aerodynamic body than the Cruze. It’s a tall box that wind might struggle to get around, and lacks aero shutters, a flat undercarriage, and low-rolling resistance tires.

    • 0 avatar
      chris724

      I agree that the aerodynamics have the biggest effect on hwy mpg. The light weight doesn’t help much at constant highway speed.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      The styling itself doesn’t look like it’d help the aerodynamics either.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I’m wondering if the American version of the Spark comes with the engine-neutral-shutoff-restart like they do in Europe. Not sure that’s the correct term, but I know the rentals I’ve driven there lately had a device that completely shut the engine down at a stoplight if I had the clutch depressed or geared neutral. Engine would start up soon as you engaged the clutch again. In the city that would save a nice percentage of normally wasted gasoline that for obvious reasons wouldn’t do much for you on the highway.

    • 0 avatar

      the spark has a drag coefficient of .33. that’s equivalent to the ford fiesta, FD RX7, NSX, the cruze(although the eco is .29), better than the honda fit, smart fortwo, and a slew of others, and the spark has a smaller frontal area than all of the aforementioned(smart fortwo aside). contrary to popular belief on the internet, you CAN’T actually tell how aerodynamic a car is just be looking at it.

      • 0 avatar

        The problem is that cD is a shit statistic, that is only barely useful for engineering dick measuring.

        We really want to know total drag, which is approximately (frontal area x cD). Frontal area matters. With low height, sports cars excel. And small narrow cars like the original Honda Insight have awesome final drag numbers.

      • 0 avatar

        you’re absolutely right, and that’s why i mentioned that the spark has a smaller frontal area than all aforementioned cars, smart fortwo aside. the NSX might have a similar or smaller frontal area due to it’s low height, but it’s definitely wider than the spark. either way, we can say for sure that the spark’s aerodynamics are at LEAST equivalent to the ford fiesta, which is hitting 40MPG. and that is the underlying point.
        well, that and the fact that you can’t tell a thing about how aerodynamic a car is just be looking at it, contrary to popular internet belief.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Don’t forget the car is tiny. 2200 pounds and it might be tall but it’s narrow. The engine size is not unreasonable for a car that size.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Smarts fall short of 40mpg but people still buy them anyway, and not just for city driving.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby

    I routinely average 33-34 with my 4-speed automatically-shifted 07 Focus. That is with a singular person and a mostly interstate commute. This car doesn’t have a chance.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I wager that your car exceeds it’s EPA figures. I would also expect this car will do so too.
      Not that I would want to take the Spark on a long highway trip.

  • avatar
    mcs

    This size of vehicle isn’t for highway cruising, it’s for tight spaces in urban environments. For some, increasing the number of potential on-street parking spots is a priority over highway mpg.

    To a Mid-Westerner, this car probably doesn’t make much sense and I understand that, but it’s a different world in places like Boston and it’s surrounding suburbs. If you lived in a place like Cambridge or Somerville MA, you’d definitely see the appeal of this car and probably wouldn’t care about the highway mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      punkybrewstershubby

      I was taking a look at the length of the Spark, which is listed as 144″ and also the overall length of my ’07 Focus sedan which is 168″ I could certainly see where 2′ of length could make or break a car purchase if I were a city dweller. Having lived in Melrose for a bit (being out in the ‘burbs’) it probably wouldnt be an issue.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      With some aero tweaks it could get better highway mpg while still staying little.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Congratulations GM! Your sub-subcompact car essentially matches the mpg of a midsize nissan (4spd vs. CVT). Is it too early to start the next GM deathwatch?

  • avatar
    philadlj

    When comparing its numbers to this competition, the Spark starts to make more sense.

    It’s cheaper than the Scion, Fiat, or Smart; gets about the same highway mpg, and is probably midpack in performance.

    Where it distinguishes itself is in having two extra doors (it’ll be the least-expensive 5-door in America), a lot more cargo space, and the best warranty in this admittedly small segment.

    For these reasons, Chevy “bothered”. But it isn’t as if they think this will be the next Model T or VW Type 1. It’s a niche, and the Spark represents Chevy’s feelers.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Wow. The voice of reason, especially compared to the OP.

      Why bother? Because one of the biggest (probably valid) criticisms of GM in the pre bankruptcy days is that they focused too much on trucks and SUVs, not enough cars. Now GM has lots of cars, cars for every niche practically. This one has a unique selling proposition, being that it’s the only 4 door offered in this size class. Truly, a smaller Pontiac Vibe.

      I could see my one college age kid driving one of these as compared to a used car, I think it would be great. We need a small utilitarian hatchbacks like the original Rabbit (Golf) or Civic. This one could fill the bill.

      If it doesn’t get 40 MPG hwy, is it really THAT bad? There are cars that are more focused on mileage and only get somewhat better mileage; none of them will be this (relatively) inexpensive and utilitarian.

      You don’t have to buy the OP’s premise…

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Good point. Just for fun let throw the Nissan Versa 5 door into it. Bigger, cheaper and only slightly heavier on gas… But then again, the spark, being smaller, will be easier to park and perhaps a bit more fun to drive.

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    I take this simply as another indication that we are outgrowing the “EPA Estimated Fuel Economy” system.

    Or too much of the carbuying public is too mathematically ignorant to understand the limitations of producing just a few numbers (City/Hwy/Comb) for such a wide variety of vehicles as we have available today.

    Then again, given the frequent rants (obviously about other cars) about vehicles being undrivable deathtraps based strictly on the single numeric rating of maximum horsepower, I think mathematical ignorance won a long time ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      I don’t think it would be fair to refer to the Spark as an undriveable deathtrap based solely on the horsepower figure. I think there’s a lot of other factors which would contribute to that assessment.

  • avatar
    typ901

    And a Honda Fit is 28/35 with a 5-speed auto. Maybe GM needs a CVT if 2013 Altima with 4cyl can manage 27/38.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      The Fit is bigger than the Spark and has a bigger, more powerful engine. It also seems geared for acceleration, not mileage. I have no idea what a 1300cc CVT-equipped Honda Jazz (Fit in other markets) would get in the EPA test cycle. For the record, I get 32/37 real world with a MT Fit rated 27/33 EPA. I long for a 6th gear.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’m sure it did exceed 40 MPG on paper, but not when you figure the higher RPMs the tiny engine will see in the real world.

    NMGOM is correct. A V8 will likely consume less fuel than an under-sized/powered V6, given the same load.

    In theory, a Moped should get 100+ MPG, but in reality it may get 50.

  • avatar
    Broo

    I’m regularly in the high ’40s with a 05 Echo and its engine has 108 HP.

    Getting a smaller car while not getting a smaller fuel thirst makes no sense.

    That’s why subcompacts are not very popular in America : compacts get about the same MPGs.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Bog slow and so-so gas mileage. Why does GM even bother? Why not just drop the same 1.4turbo from the Sonic/Cuze into this car? I’m sure the gas mileage would be about the same while the performance would make a quantum leap.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Why are we even discussing this? Even at today’s high US gas prices, the difference between 38 and 40 mpg is peanuts – less than $10/month. Except for That Guy with the irrepressible need to point out that his Swedemobile gets 45 mpg thru the mountains at 75 mph, none of us have a reason to be posting here. All these tiny cars get great mileage and are wonderful in the city. Pick one that works for you, or move on.

    Aloha, my brethren.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Thanks for the segway in.

      I usually record 50 miles into work and 50 miles return, all highway for consistency. I average about 58-60 mph so no drafting but did see a 43 mpg going into work and a 42 mpg on the return(heavier wheels/cupped tires) with 2000 9-5 5-speed with over 130K miles and an ecu tune with supporting hardware like intake, exhaust, and intercooler. I can’t complain but there are others that see similar mid 30′s on vacation trips. Jack B has similar results exceeding EPA in a Impala.

      I’d shoot a video for the non believers but the two hours uncut would require some new equipment and a host site to post too.

    • 0 avatar

      it has nothing to do with the fact that it doesn’t get “xx MPG” and everything to do with the fact that there are larger, more powerful cars that damn near match its MPG. it’s just absurd. but, it has a chevy “bow tie” on it, so morons will buy it over the competition, just like every other mediocre GM product.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And yet some people have no need or desire for a larger car, so who cares? This car is competitive in its market segment. As someone else pointed out, if I lived in a place like Somerville MA or Park Slope Brooklyn, I would infinitely prefer this car to an Altima. Heck, I would prefer the hatch version of it to an Altima regardless simply because I have no use for sedans.

        For that matter, I paid over $40K for a car with less interior space than all sorts of $18K compact cars, and no more toys, AND it gets WORSE gas mileage. So I MUST be an idiot? Not everyone buys cars by the pound.

      • 0 avatar

        if you’d like to put words in my mouth, then by all means, but i’m calling GM idiots, not the consumer. well, alright, consumers that buy mediocre products for no logical reason(including my family) too. but i digress…
        is it wrong to expect GM to actually try to introduce a car that is segment leading rather than “competitive”? the corvette aside(debatable with the GT-R around these days), every product they have is merely “competitive”. or worse. i guess the fords and hyundais have flawed my expectations as of late…

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        Why people expending money where they see it fit are morons?

        There’s a bloke here wanting to buy not one, but 2 GM products. I agree with both of his choices.

        I personally own 1 and would buy a brand new replacement of the same model if the money was there.

        Am I a moron too? Or I have to buy a BMW/Toyota/VW to be smart?

        Get over yourselves.

      • 0 avatar

        wow, so no matter how hard i try to refocus this discussion on the greater point – GM’s consistently mediocre cars when they could be producing truly segment leading products that we, as the consumers, should be demanding – it’ll all just go back to people getting butt hurt from a comment on the side.

        GM DOES actually make some quality products – pickup trucks, SUVs, the corvette, some of the cadillac lineup, some of the buick lineup – but even still none of them are segment leading. an argument can be made against the corvette for example with the presence of the GT-R. but all of those are certainly products to consider, and products i certainly wouldn’t be averse to owning. but an impala, or a malibu???
        but, maybe you guys are right. instead of encouraging the uninformed and lazy(lets be honest) to weigh all the options and check out the competition, maybe we should encourage them to squalor in mediocrity instead. just as long as their poor little feelings don’t get hurt, right?

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Ry – I get you underlying point. But with what 12 major manufacturers being segment leader is hard. Lets look at some other companies, for example Toyota and are they segment leader in many categories :
        Yaris (no), Corolla (no), Camry (maybe), Rav-4 (no), Highlander (no), Avalon (no), Prius (yes), Tundra (no), Tacoma (yes). So the majority are no’s. The same would be played out with VW and Ford so being competitive is the minimum price of entry and GM meets that in most categories.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    It is a bit strange that big sedans like the Passat diesel and the Sonata and Optima mild hybrids can hit the 4-0, an a tinny little econobox can’t, but, really, this is going to be used mostly in cities, and the city rating isn’t at all out of line with the direct competition and better than most.

    I would hope GM releases the usual Eco model later on to boost the bigger number past 40, if for nothing other than simple bragging rights.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    For some reason this is what comes to mind (0:40 sec mark):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eeZkMpmuUA

  • avatar
    CUINCT

    I chalk this up to the 4-speed transmission. Chevy said their 4-speed is already very efficient but the 6-speed gives a 8%+ improvement.

    The Chevy Malibu got a 10% bump with the 6-speed, they ought to use it here.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I wonder if this is a case where a bit more displacement and horsepower would yield a better MPG because the engine doesn’t have to work as hard to drag the weight around.

    For example the Tundra gets 1 MPG better highway, and the same city, with the 5.7L V8 over the smaller 4.7.

    Would the turbo 1.4L maybe slightly detuned to say 110/110 yield a better result?

  • avatar
    C170guy

    Most of what I would have said, has already been said. I am in tune with the universe today- So, I’ll take a different tack:

    How much of “the plan” for these cars is to drive people into the C-segment car sitting next to them on the lots?

    These tiny cars can make such a good argument against themselves and for a C-segment; if you pay attention to what’s going on. To me it is starting to look like one of the main reasons they exist is to drive c-segment sales. Anyone else see it too, or am I on my own on this one?

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I don’t think that they will drive a huge amount of C segment sales. Unless the folks looking at this car are horribly misguided.

      I can see young people buying this, as opposed to a used car with no warranty, and higher interest rate (provided they can get a co-signer). I can see folks who live in the big city buying one of these just because of space considerations.

      Sure, where I live in the Midwest and in the suburbs, this car is not relevant. A Cruze or Malibu size of car would much more relevant to my lifestyle. But if I lived in Chicago or Cleveland, somewhere where fuel and parking are costly expenses, this would fill the bill.

  • avatar
    MusicMachine

    I’m not surprised GM didn’t achieve the 40 MPG holy grail but I’m not sure that’s gonna deter most of their target buyers. It might deter other fuel conscious consumers, but not most who grace the doors of their nearest GM dealership.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I am no fan of the Spark, it’s under engineered and I guess the engine profile, gear ratio selection and small wheels are not well though through. Hence the poorer than expected gas mileage. I think its cool that GM has it on the market though, because there is a need for a very small car like this and the buying public need that choice.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    I saw one of these in front of the local Chevy dealer today and to indulge my inner Jeremy Clarkson, I thought…. “what a horrid little car!” OK, maybe not my exact remark, but cleaner then what I actually said. You can probably figure it out.

    Seriously, it looked terrible. Especially in snot green. The Sonic is actually not a bad looking car at all. This one is just awful. It seriously makes the Versa look much more appealing and I’m no fan of the Versa.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    GM comes up short in the small car segment once more, why is anyone surprised? It is a Daewoo product. after all. I don’t care where it’s assembled, it’s still a Daewoo, remember the mediocre MPG’s of the Aveo? So what’s the diff? For that money, I’ll take the Versa, roomier with a decent reliability record.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      You are mixing up vehicles in your GM bashing. Of course the Versa is roomier than the Spark…the Spark is really out there to compete with the Smart, Fiat, and the IQ.

      The Sonic is the competitior to the Versa…not the Spark. And, in fact, the Sonic has more retail sales than the Versa.

      And, the Sonic is the one with US assembly…not the Spark. The US Spark is made in Korea.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        You are missing the point that the Spark has to compete with the Versa on price. The Versa’s base MSRP is $10,990. The Spark’s MSRP is $12,245. Maybe the Spark doesn’t want to have to compete with the roomier, faster Versa, but reality will intervene.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        Another sucker falling for the idea that Nissan builds and sells a lot of base models Versa’s.

        They don’t. But, they are happy to advertise the fact the the Versa ‘starts at $10,990′

        I searched my local Nissan dealer’s inventory a minute ago. They have 34 of them…the cheapest one is $15430 and they go up to 20k.

        Search your own local Nissan inventory and see what you find.

        Have a look yourself at my local Nissan dealer:

        townnorthnissan.com

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        My local dealer Pacific Nissan, less than one mile from my condo, has one Versa 1.6S in stock. It is $13,770 because it has a CVT. The only Spark in my rather large city is an LS automatic for $13,920 which is 12.1 miles away at Ron Baker Chevrolet. Should you be ridiculed for assuming Chevrolet dealers can be bothered stocking stripper Sparks, a car that seems to be 20% overpriced at base MSRP? Does calling people suckers violate the rules of this forum? I found two $14,660 Sonics in the city of San Diego too. That’s a real commitment to stocking the loss leaders right there.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “You are missing the point that the Spark has to compete with the Versa on price.”

        No, it doesn’t.

        They are in different size classes. The Versa is a subcompact. The Spark is something closer to a city car. The Versa is more than a foot longer than the Spark.

        The Scion iQ is a bit smaller, but is probably its closest competitor. Base sticker on the iQ is around $15,300, about $3,000 more than the Spark.

        Price isn’t going to be the factor here; size is. It’s a city car, so high sales volumes are unlikely. Since high sales volumes are unlikely, additional price cutting doesn’t make much sense, as the volumes are going to be low, no matter how much it costs.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        This is the American market we’re talking about. Korean subcompacts are price sensitive. This isn’t a high concept iQ or Smart(neither of which sell well enough to cover its advertising budget anyway) or a high style Fiat or Mini. While the short length may appeal to dozens, the Spark will have to sell on value and it doesn’t represent much when the Versa 1.6S is so real that Nissan is sourcing a cheaper automatic to enable them to sell closer to their advertised price to more customers.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “the Spark will have to sell on value”

        Not really. It’s a city car. There is virtually no demand for city cars in the US. The size class is too small to appeal to most Americans.

        Lowering the price will not increase volume. Price reductions would simply reduce profits or increase losses.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        If price isn’t a factor, why don’t they charge far more?

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        My apologies CJ. I will be more careful next time and I’ll reword my statement.

        Some people point to the starting price of the Versa and assume that its a realistic price. It is not. Most Versa’s in stock are over 15k price. Nissan jumps 4k in starting prices above the base level trim and doesn’t build many base level Versas.

        Cars.com has 8647 new Versa’s listed. 241 of them are under 13k in price. That’s less than 2%. Good luck finding one at the $10,990 price that they list and you quoted in your argument that the Spark is competing with the Versa on price. As an example, I showed a Nissan dealership in Austin Texas (a decent market for smaller cars) and it has over 30 Versas…all over 15k in price. If price is as important as you say, a $1000 here or there really means something at these low price points.

        Spark is just hitting the market, so lets see what type of mix dealers carry after they get more. I do know that most, if not all, Sparks are shipping to big cities only for awhile after launch..so you won’t find one at most Chevy dealerships.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        Can you order a stripped Versa?

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        “Can you order a stripped Versa?”

        No, but in some communities you can always rent a village bicycle on the cheap.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    In all fairness, the Dumb gets the same mpg’s with a smaller engine and smaller and lighter vehicle and it’s more expensive as well plus it’s got a lousy transmission.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    My thought is that MPG isn’t the real point of this car; low price and small size are. The fuel economy isn’t impressive but it isn’t horrible. Manual transmission mileage is comparable/better to the much pricier base model Mini Cooper.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Couple points here:

    Highway mileage is pretty much determined by aerodynamics, city mileage by curb weight. The 1st-gen Insight is how you do aero in a small car, but the double-ended teardrop shape means there’s only enough space for two adults. Enlarge the shape enough for four adults, and you get the gen2 Prius. The more you deviate from that shape, the bigger hit you take on the highway. The Spark, smart, iQ, etc. simply don’t have enough of a tail for good airflow. Conversely, bigger stuff like the Cruze or Sonata do a pretty good job of mimicking the Prius profile.

    The Spark is really a 3rd-gen Daewoo Matiz, and as such the drivetrain is older tech built to a price point, the engine dating from the mid-2000s. Exemplary fuel economy wasn’t in the budget, and Daewoo wasn’t really up to the task then anyway.

    Theose folks looking for a $7,000 or $8,000 minicar need to move to another country. New cars that can be sold at that price have been excised from the US market by legislation (equipment, emissions, and crash standards) and customer expectations.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The smartfortwo cars are rated 34/38. The Scion iQ is rated 36/37.

    I would guess that the Spark could have raised the highway MPG by 1-2 MPG with more gears. But that would add to the cost of the car, and with the $12,000+ starting MSRP, it’s clear that one of the primary objectives here is to hit a price point.

    What those three cars have in common is they aren’t designed primarily with the US market in mind. Unless they decide to push it into rental or get incredibly lucky, this is destined to be a low-volume seller, so investing a lot of effort into optimizing the US version may not be worthwhile.

    If they do end up with decent volumes, then I’d be watching the fleet numbers, and assume that the main goal for US sales was CAFE compliance.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Once again most people with that kind of money to spend will opt for a used, better anything else, than these vehicles

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      Funny, that’s what GM thought 30 years ago: Who’d buy a new Corolla when they could have a used Buick? So, now GM has a small car, built to a price-point (and mostly for 2nd-world markets) and the company gets beaten up. You cannot give them credit for offering a micro-car to the American market? Too bad for you.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I haven’t checked in a while, but I believe it’s still easier and cheaper to finance a $12,000 new car than a $12,000 used car. That’s what drives the new car low end.

  • avatar
    redav

    Those numbers aren’t surprising to me at all. Tiny cars usually have trouble making good hwy mpg–their engines are just too small. However, I do expect them to get great city mpg, which this one does.

  • avatar
    jimdenver

    28 mpg in the city with an automatic? Why buy this over a Cruze, Sonic, my 2010 corolla and so on?

  • avatar
    alluster

    Still don’t see a point for this car. No real benefit to anyone buying this car other than ease of parking and a low starting price. The styling is too blah to sell on a “coolness” factor, unlike the smart, iQ, mini and 500. The Opel adam has a better chance if brought over as a chevy or a buick.

    The 25,000 units this car might sell in year can easily be gained by knocking a grand of the Sonic’s price(which BTW is too high for its segment). There is room to reduce sticker prices on the Sonic with transaction prices higher than the Corolla, Civic and Sentra. Chevy can also save on development, tooling, and marketing costs, not to mention reduce the number of platforms and engines in production plus bragging rights to claim the number 1 selling sub-compact, which the Sonic already is, excluding the bargain basement Versa. The Sonic is also very profitable. The 600 more pounds of metal, plastic and rubber it weighs, costs around $200 while the MSRP is $3000 more.

    The only positive outcomes I see from the Spark is if sales take off during high gas prices due to the “small car = Great FE” perception. Could also increase market penetration for Chevy in metropolitan areas where they lag everybody else. That or Chevy just wants to f*%^ with Toyota, which has invested a ton of money to develop the iQ into a innovative small package.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      Why knock a grand off the price of the Sonic when its the retail sales leader in its segment? Versa has more total sales but Sonic leads in retail.

      Not saying that’s going to last forever, but why? I thought the idea was profit…not volume. The Spark is only really going to be available in large urban markets where GM typically struggles.

      Development costs? They already sell the Spark in over 100 markets around the world…its not like they designed this from the ground up for the US. They probably tweaked a few things to meet safety requirements…put in a better infotainment setup and it was ready. Not selling it here would not reduce a single global platform given that it already sells around the world.

      Tooling? They are building the US Spark in Korea where they already build it.

      Marketing costs? I challenge you to find an ad for the Spark. They’ll try a few cheap social type things…but there won’t be a lot of marketing $$ going to it.

      If you really think the costs of the Sonic are about $200 above the Spark then I’m not quite sure what to say…but its more than that.

      I see nothing wrong with giving this a try in a few key markets to see how it does.

      • 0 avatar
        alluster

        I will gladly eat a lot of crow if the spark becomes a hit, just like I’ve had to eat crow when the Sonic turned out to be a raging success. Sells twice as many the Aveo sold, with transaction prices at 16,700 or $4,200 over the Aveo. Commands the highest premium in its segment while topping retail sales in its segment, an uncharted territory for a GM sub-compact.

        http://friedmannews.com/2012/03/26/gm-makes-big-splash-in-small-car-market/

        But again the sub-compact segment is a well established one. Sonic being the best styled and best looking hands down helps too. The spark OTH looks like a turd from all angles. There is nothing wrong with trying like you said but i am afraid it might end up stealing sales from the more profitable Sonic and Cruze. The car has a chance if it had quirky styling to stand out which it does not nor does it excel in FE, Power or utility. The Opel Adam should have been the Spark in the US and everywhere else too.

        “I thought the idea was profit…not volume.”

        If that’s the idea…Kill the spark, bring the Adam as a Buick Verano hatch, price it at $19,999, sell 2000 units a month (a realistic number considering the Verano sedan priced between $24K and $32K sells more than 4000 units a month). I’d rather they sell 1000 units at a $6000 profit each vs 3000 units at $1000 profit.

        “If you really think the costs of the Sonic are about $200 above the Spark then I’m not quite sure what to say…but its more than that.”

        I was using wholesale prices for Steel, plastic and rubber to get that number. It is obviously more than that but you get the idea.

  • avatar
    sunridge place

    I guess the hardest thing is to define what ‘a hit’ would be with the Spark. I would guess that the bar is very low to break even on this vehicle. I would guess 500 units a month.

    The Sonic has actually poached some sales from the Cruze since launching last August…and the Spark may poach a few sales from the Sonic. So what? If they are all profitable who cares?

    If Chevy can get 25k-30k sales a month between Cruze/Sonic/Spark at a profit and add another 2k-3k profitable Verano sales a month they are far ahead of where they were 3-5 years ago…heck screw the last 5 years…try the last 40 years.

    You add up Corolla, Yaris, all of Scion and its about 37k units a month for Toyota.

    Add up Civic and Fit and they are around 32k units a month.

    Some people on here just repeat their usual ‘GM screws up again in the small car segment’ in commenting on the Spark without understanding what the Spark really is and where GM was in the last decades in small cars and where they are today. They are not leading the pack (except in the Sonic segment) but they are a hell of a lot better than they used to be. Selling small cars at a profit.

  • avatar
    mcs

    The rental car companies will love this car. It will become their new mid-size so they can bump up the Rios, Aveos and Sonics to full size/large, Corollas become premium, and Camrys/Altimas luxury.

  • avatar
    danwat1234

    So I saw in a comment on here that the Spark is around $4K less than the Cruze. The Cruze, according to chevy.com is $16,800 so $12,800 for the Spark.
    Not bad for an econobox. The hwy numbers suffer because of aerodynamics of shorter cars aren’t that good at high speeds.

    Maybe the transmission too?

    But a $19K Prius C gets way better mileage, but way more expensive, too.

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    My 6 year old Vauxhall Corsa is a GM product with similar weight and a similar size engine with a 5 speed manual, and in a combination of city and open road driving has no trouble cresting 40mpg and even 45. With any luck those figures will be more suitable for the Spark.

  • avatar
    danwat1234

    On Fuelly, the 2013 Spark averages 38-40MPG for combined city highway driving for people who submit their MPG on that site. Better than a Chevy Cruze and about the same as a VW TDI! The EPA can STFU.

    Only thing better is a hybrid.


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