By on October 12, 2012

Strong demand is spurring Chevrolet to import more Chevrolet Spark minicars from Korea – though Chevrolet won’t release their initial projections or how many Sparks will be imported in the next round.

Chevrolet sold 6,313 Sparks in the first two months it went on sale, surpassing the Smart Fortwo and Scion iQ. The Spark was initially sold in 18 urban markets but is now available nationwide. A strike at GM’s Korean plant put a damper on production, full-scale output has resumed.

Third party projections estimated 27,000 annual sales of the Spark, but GM is on track to exceed that number.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

53 Comments on “Chevrolet’s Small Car Sparking Small Car Demand...”


  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    beating Smarts and Toyota iQs isnt exactly hard is it?

    I have no love for Sparks but it is at least a 5 door hatch that can make a fist of being a daily car… which is something the other two can’t…

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I, too, find the styling awkward (though not as outright ugly as, say, the Juke). But Chevrolet should have this type in the car in its lineup, so it’s good to see it’s selling above projections, as that may guarantee it a longer life than the ZDX had.

      • 0 avatar
        tatracitroensaab

        The styling is awkward, but it’s really not the designer’s fault. The Spark has a short wheelbase and a high, boxy body. This leads to great space efficiency and better aerodynamics than a pure box, but the end result will inevitably look awkward.

      • 0 avatar
        jaje

        I saw a Spark a couple weeks ago and was quite shocked that it looked much better in person.

        I know we all don’t like the ZDX as it was a bad idea from day 1 – one would hope a sub $15k awkwardly designed car should sell in higher numbers than an awkwardly designed $40k suv. That is not exactly apples to apples.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @jaje, a very valid point.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @jaje

        I’ve already seen two in the wild which is quite shocking to me for a new model. Neither had the tell tale rental barcodes on them and local dealer new reg paper plates, so they were bought.

        I have to agree with you – these cars are not photogenic but in person they look a lot better.

        It’s not only outselling the iQ and smart, which wouldn’t be hard. But it is outselling the Yaris, the Mazda2, and running with the Fiesta. The Spark is a porker of an A segment car (that point was beaten into the ground in an earlier B&B discussion) but that’s the sandbox it plays in. As others have noted, it has four legit doors, a wide hatch, and its sum is better than the parts (like the Sonic).

        GM got another small car right – that moves them further away from the Silverado and Suburban tit for profits and more in the direction they need to go.

        The reality appears to be that Chevy has a pretty good A, B, and C segment line up for the first time in – ever.

        A – Spark
        B – Sonic
        C – Cruze (which will be reinforced when the diesel gets here)

        The Malibu is a train wreck. The new Impala is yet to be determined, and the SS sedan is already set as a niche vehicle out of the gate. Chevy still has a long way to go – but they are heading in the right direction.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Hypnotoad: Why do you think the new ‘Bu is a train wreck? I’ve driven one, and really can find little to criticize if we’re speaking of cars that compete in the Camcordtima sandbox.

        I’m eager to drive one of the turbo models to see how it compares to the ‘eco’ version. I think it’s far better than the internet meme claiming it is ‘the worst car ever’ or whatever the meme is today…

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        It was my impression the Cruze has been a top seller for GM… its what quietly brang the bacon back. It may not be the best car in its class but it doesnt have to be the best to get mass.

  • avatar
    magicboy2

    If Bertel Schmitt had posted this article, the headline would have been “GM’s Gross Mismanagement of Chevy Spark Sales”.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Spark is competing more against the Fiat 500 than either of the microcars.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Hmmm, does the USDM version come with roof rails? Can’t remember the last new car I saw with those. Probably some ’90s Subaru.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I rented a fully loaded version of one of these last week. Exterior styling is not too bad. Interior dash looked like one of those old REMCO radio crystal sets that one could purchase years ago. Illogical controls (well, it IS GM), and swoops galore – none of which appeared to have a purpose.

    On the highway at a constant cruise of 55-65, I only averaged 32 mpg. Heck, my C300 averages 29+ on the highway, my beloved SX-4 hatch gives me close to 36.

    Add to that the point that the darned thing could hardly get out of its own way at sea level and I really don’t see much purpose in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      It’s not about the gas mileage. It’s size. In urban areas small size is an advantage. Parking spaces don’t have those cute little white markings. You have to jam the car in where you can. The smaller the car, the greater the number of potential parking spaces. Styling really doesn’t matter either since cars in these areas usually have the crap beat out of them anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      I’m guessing that your bad fuel economy was some kind of outlier. Your beloved SX-4 is hardly an efficient car, so I’d expect the Spark to easily surpass it.

    • 0 avatar
      1998redwagon

      as pointed out in the spark review earlier on ttac the point of the car is not highway cruising miles. it is an urban vehicle. the city mileage is very good, the seating position is upright, the overall size short so it fits parking spaces quite well.

      but highway mileage? no, for that it is no better than the sonic.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Everyone needs a payback when they sink their $ into a car. If it doesn’t give performance and/or comfort, it better give economy. I have a cube with lots of room and get better than that around town and it is fast enough to get out of it’s own way.

    With that kind of mileage I don’t see anything I need here.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The payback is an increased number of potential parking spots when you live and/or work in an urban area with unmarked on-street parking. It’s an arms race measured in inches. The smaller the car, the greater the number of potential parking spots and it’s tougher for someone else to steal your spot if you leave behind a Spark/iQ/Smart sized space. The market is big and I suspect it will grow as the numbers of these smaller vehicles enter the battle.

      Next time you’re in the Boston area, have lunch or dinner in Allston, Somerville, East Boston, Cambridge, or the North End. Bring whatever you’re driving and try to park it on the street and you’ll see what I mean.

      • 0 avatar
        BigMeats

        How true. When I left mechanical work and went to grad school I quickly learned that urban driving is its own ecosystem. Whatever thrives out in The World is helpless Downtown, and vice versa.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        Wonder how I ever survived going to school in North Philly for 4 years street parking a Fleetwood.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “Wonder how I ever survived going to school in North Philly for 4 years street parking a Fleetwood.”

        Sure you can survive with a large car and people still do. Just like you could survive a drag race in a Prius against a ZR1. You’ll make it to the finish line eventually, but it won’t be pretty. In the sport of competitive parking spot acquisition, A and B segment cars are the ZR1 and Shelby Cobra equivalents.

        I’m from the Midwest and Southwest, so the parking thing is new to me. The City of Somerville near Boston claims to have 11,600 registered vehicles* per square mile. That’s what your up against in some places.

        * Why is all this necessary section of: http://www.parksomerville.com/overview.html

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parking_chair

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      This is 4-500 lbs lighter than the cars which make a pretense of usefulness outside the city like a Fiesta, Fit, or Soul. In its native environment of bumper to bumper urban misery it’ll do better on gas than any of them.

    • 0 avatar
      wstarvingteacher

      I get the picture. I live in the country and could park a land barge in my driveway. This isn’t for me but then again that is intentional. I remember parking in Boston when in the Navy and you are right.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Have to say, and I’m no fanboi of GM, I’m impressed that the General looks to be reading its tea-leaves for once with the Spark.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Perhaps they learned a valuable lesson when gas prices shot up and they were left with nothing to sell.

      My impression is that, previously, their small car strategy in the USA was to build cars that would sell just enough units to satisfy CAFE while making it easy to upsell people to one of the vehicles that they actually wanted to sell. And it worked, I guess, until 2008 when credit and gasoline both became more expensive.

      I just happen to like small cars, and the Spark looks much better in person than I expected. Between that and the Cruze, GM is finally interested in selling cars to the Honda/Toyota crowd (which is what my dad taught me was a normal everyday car, after being burned by GM in the 1970s and 1980s). I’m more into hybrid wagons these days, though, so Ford and Toyota are more likely to earn my business at the moment, but it’s good to see GM at the party for a change!

  • avatar
    philadlj

    6500 sales in US and Canada in less than three months on the market…that’s probably better than even Chevy imagined. Of the microcars available in the US, the Spark is the largest and most practical with its four doors, even if it isn’t the prettiest. It will never sell in Cruze or even Sonic numbers, but for a niche vehicle like this, any year with over 10K units sold is nothing to sneeze at.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I totally agree with mcs about this winning the urban parking wars. Under the Law of Unintended Circumstances, I predict this will sell well with the cheap crowd. The won’t need the parking capacity because the local Wal-Mart stripes it’s lot for four door trucks but there’s Chevy dealer in town, not an hour away like a Fiat or Mini. This may become another cockroach of the road and I mean that in a good way.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I’m pretty surprised that this thinig is selling at all. Are any of these fleet sales?

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    This all goes to show that price matters!

    If Chevy dropped the Volt’s price by $10K (what’s the difference, if they are already losing many times that per vehicle) they would certainly be selling a lot more of those too.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Ah, but (more money lost per car) x (more cars sold) is not a pretty equation!

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        But we can make it up in volume!!!

        ;-)

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @th009: “Ah, but (more money lost per car) x (more cars sold) is not a pretty equation!”

        It’s also a naive equation. The actual equation is something like:
        -$1b of R&D and factory construction – cost of keeping factory open + (sale price of car – cost of materials – cost of labor) * cars sold.

        It seems pretty likely that making more Volts at a lower price could make money. But scaling up the production is tricky, and people will buy them at $40k (even I’ve been tempted — it’s a nice car, all things considered), so they might as well keep the price high.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I would be interested to know age and income demographics of buyers. At a guess young, just started working people and older, near retirement or retired people. And, people from lower middle income right up to comfortable, but not super wealthy.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    The unspoken truth behind micromobiles is that these are cars for our permanently-poorer future. This is what the post-bubble era looks like. Rinse and repeat for housing, vacation destinations, college affordability, and just about everything else big-ticket.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    PT Barnum was so right, after the demise of the god-awful Aveo, we get Son of Aveo and people are lining up to buy them, WOW! is all I can say.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      They’re dirt cheap and easy to park in the urban landscape. I don’t think anyone will have a triple brain hemorrhage when their Spark gets bumper scraped again. The cheap will buy them because they’re cheap and they live close to a Chevy dealer. It’s an appliance that’s cheaper and more convenient than cab for city dwellers.

    • 0 avatar
      JD-Shifty

      wake up. they’ve evolved just like Hyundai did.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        please don’t compare H/K to Daewoo, they’re in a different league, just because they come from the same country, look at Honda/Toyota compared to Mitsu and Suzuki.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Volt, Spark……. what is next? Short Circuit?

  • avatar
    Trail Rated

    About 4,500 units of the Chevrolet Beat, as they are known here in India, are sold a month and was the 18th highest seller in September. It starts at 7,000 USD pre-tax and 8,700 for the three cylinder diesel version with fixed geometry turbo.

    Starved of choice in cars, younger Indians will readily put aside the preference for ‘Japani Cars’ the elders had and prefer American design.

    On rare occasions in Bangalore’s traffic jams, you can see a Daewoo Matiz standing side by side with the Beat and the Chevrolet Spark. The Spark in India is a blander looking appliance car based on a previous version.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    I have not noticed any advertising for the Spark, yet it appears that people are discovering them and taking them home to meet the family. I’m actually thrilled that Spark sales are taking off at this rate, and not a sales dud. Great news for the dealers! I can also imagine that GM was cautious with its sales expectations on this model, perhaps treating the Spark as an experiment in this foray into the entry segment.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    Cheap car low price, the real GM.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I’ve seen a couple of these in my Queens, NYC neighborhood. A place where there are plenty of Mini’s and a few Fist 500. I can see why GM had these sense to bring these here as a small urban runabout though I wish the styling was more retro like a Mini, 500 or new Opel Adam which GM should bring or make here.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India