It’s been a little while since we checked in on GM’s A-Car experiment, the Chevrolet Spark. After some cringe-worthy initial attempts at marketing the Spark, we are now getting some early data, and the takeaway is this; sales aren’t so bad, but the demographics of Spark owners aren’t quite what GM wanted.
In the four months it’s been on the market, the Spark has sold 8447 units, already ahead of the Smart Fortwo and Scion iQ, and right behind another Gen Y darling, the Scion FR-S in the sales charts, which only has a 125 unit lead over the Spark. The Spark’s 2100-unit a month average sales pace would put it somewhere around the Toyota Yaris if we were to extrapolate the data over a 12 month period. Not bad for tiny A-segment car that isn’t even available nationwide yet.
But here’s the kicker. The average age of the Spark buyer is 48. Ward’s Auto spoke to Chevrolet’s Cristi Landy, who was unable to work the spin despite strong attempts
A good percentage of Spark buyers are 25 or younger, but dealers report seeing a wide age mix among customers.
“The average (Spark buyer) age is 48,” she says. “In general we’re seeing younger buyers, but to sell in volume you have to have older buyers, too.”
The Spark is unlikely to lose sales to the larger Chevrolet Sonic when customers visit showrooms, because the smaller model has dramatically different styling and appeals to a different buyer, Landy says.
We at TTAC predicted this exact scenario back in July, and the Spark’s average age suggests that the Spark customer is skewing older than GM may have hoped for. It could be the de facto admission that for young people, buying a small hatchback is a conspicuous statement of poverty, or that young people just plain can’t afford cars because they don’t have jobs – and if they do, they aren’t great ones. The answer is somewhere in the middle.
We have the misfortune of being the most aspirational generation, with horrible economic prospects. Spark customers appear to be older, frugal and divorced from the notion that one’s wheels are integral to one’s identity. Maybe we could learn something from them. And maybe they could hire some of us. There are lots of bright, young creative types who could add a lot of value to General Motors, at a fraction of the cost of their current marketing “gurus“.