By on July 26, 2012

Chevrolet is slowly launching the Spark subcompact in select markets across the United States, with more MTV/Viacom-derived “millenial focused” ad campaigns. But Chevrolet is being cagey, if not evasive, regarding projected sales.

GM is planning a whole slew of tie-ins with the music/entertainment network to help promote the Spark. According to the Detroit News

“For more than a year, GM and its largest brand have been working with MTV Scratch, a Viacom consulting company, on creative ways to reach millennial consumers.

The Spark will be featured on MTV websites such as MTV Iggy in a promotion involving new music and emerging artists, Landy said. The company will use Facebook, other MTV sites and social platforms to bring people to MTV Iggy for the promotion.”

A couple things jump out here

1) What the hell is MTV Iggy? I’m apparently the target market for this car (young, urban etc.) and I have never heard of it. A quick search reveals that it’s a platform to introduce American listeners to music from around the globe. When One Direction and Katy Perry are topping the charts, the zeitgeist may not be sophisticated enough to support Canto-pop or bailie funk, and the people interested in those genres would not ever want to be associated with the MTV brand.

2) Facebook? What happened to GM and Facebook breaking up? And what kind of efficacy is there with respect to Facebook marketing? Past explorations have yielded a consistent answer – not much.

The least promising sign of the whole project is GM’s refusal to release any kind of sales projections for the Spark. Despite GM’s assertion that “…we are very confident this Spark will be very popular”, they’re not willing to make any kind of prediction. The Detroit News quotes a Kelly Blue Book analyst projecting between 500 to 1,000 sales per month – for a company like GM, that’s a rounding error. The Spark is destined to languish in Smart ForTwo territory.

The only two customers profiled in the Spark story are 30 and 51 years old respectively. 30 is pushing it for a Millennial. 51 might as well be the parent of one. The 51-year-old, a former Ford employee who was laid off a couple of years ago, simply wanted a cheap to car commute with, while the 30-year-old wanted to ditch his V8 Cadillac.

The Spark is going to be a tough sell ; a Sonic or even a Honda Civic is only a few thousand dollars more, gets better EPA numbers and offers a lot more space, power and content (though they don’t have the Spark’s cool touch screen infotainment system). Second, Americans have a historic aversion to small cars, and the A-segment Spark is about as palatable to them as a Jewish King is to Saudi Arabians.

Furthermore, the millennial demographic that Chevrolet is targeting is not going to go for this car. The key concept for anyone targeting this group is aspirational. Job prospects may be bleak, living at home after college may be common but constant viewing of Sex and the City and Entourage (depending on your gender), along with the excesses of the past decade has helped Generation Why get acclimated to frivolity and luxury. Some people are secure enough to just go and buy a Cruze; that doesn’t mean that the “used 3-Series” crowd has died off.

Hyundai gets this instinctively (and Ford is starting to pick up on it as well). Whether it’s an Elantra, a Sonata or a Genesis, their products look like something that costs more than it should. The average consumer will have no shame in declaring their desire for a Hyundai because it “looks like a Benz”. We’ve explored how Chevrolet can capitalize on this, with something like a Cruze-based coupe that could be an S5 at a distance. Unfortunately, nothing says “poverty” like a tiny hatchback painted in a HI-LITER shade.

So who is going to buy the Spark? If past experiments like the Honda Element and Scion xB1 are anything to go by, they will likely be similar to the initial customers; older folks, secure with their station in life, who just want frugal, practical transportation. There’s nothing wrong with that; perhaps there’s even something honorable in that pursuit. The problem is that Generation Y (myself included) are too stupid to realize that, and all we want to do is impress our friends and whatever sex we are attracted to.

My one unanswered question remains; why does GM insist on paying significant sums of money to a bunch of charlatans for lame ad campaigns that blatantly pander to the most cynical, hard-to-reach consumers of all…and for a vehicle that may sell 12,000 units per year, based on optimistic projections?

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75 Comments on “Generation Why: Chevrolet Pours Water On The Spark...”

  • avatar

    Given you can’t point to a single A segment car in the United States and go, “big sales success,” I don’t blame GM for being tight lipped on sales numbers for this CAFE sucker upper.


    Ya, so does the Scion iQ and the smartfortwo and the Fiat 500 for what they are – so what’s your point?

    • 0 avatar

      I think that the FIat Abarth could be considered a sales success given that they have sold out their 2012 production. Sure the absolute numbers aren’t that high but Fiat is selling every one they build.

      • 0 avatar

        FIAT is another one who got criticized for missing a sales target for the first year of the 500. They seem to have “recovered” for the indignity of missing an arbitrary target (albeit self-set).

    • 0 avatar

      well- the Mini was a reasonable success. The Fiat 500 sells ~4000 copies a month. Any mass-produced car that sells more than 2000 a month is a worthwhile product.

      • 0 avatar

        Mini is not A-segment, its B-segment. The Honda Fit has a wheel base just 1.3 inches shorter, and is 4/10 of an inch wider. The Yaris is only 6 inches longer total, skinnier, and has an almost identical wheel base also.

        To make an A segment comparison to the Mini, the Scion iQ is 26 inches smaller, The smartfortwo is 40 inches smaller! The porker Spark is still shorter than the Mini, but tickles the top of the A segment.

      • 0 avatar

        The Spark is only one inch shorter than a Mini Cooper and it is five inches taller than the Mini. Want to talk interior volume?

      • 0 avatar

        2013 Spark: 144.7″ length
        2012 Mini: 146.6″
        2002 Mini: 142.8″
        2012 Fit: 161.6″
        2012 Fiesta:160.1″

        The Spark falls sqaurely between the old and current Mini. It would be hard to argue that the Spark is A-segment while the Mini is B-segment like the Fit & Fiesta.
        In any event my whole point was that the 143″ 2002 Mini was a reasonable sales success, so that proves that a well done A-segment car will sell in America.

    • 0 avatar

      Never seen an iQ in person, and have only personally seen a handful of nothing-Smart-about-it rides since their introduction. I have seen about a dozen or so Fiats running around though I suppose that’s indicative of some success.

      • 0 avatar

        You know how some people condemn SUVs as useless, oversized, lumbering, polluting vehicles? And though this is true, SUVs serve a number of very useful roles for people: families who need to tow something (boat, camper, etc), people who go off-road frequently, etc.

        Well, the Smart ForTwo is the same.

        My wife drives one daily and it is not good at carrying more than two people, going on large shopping trips, driving on the highway, etc. But it is perfect in a crowded city, zipping into the “hey a**wipe you took up two” parallel parking spots, dodging pot holes and pedestrians (inverse potholes), and getting reasonable city mpg.

        Incidentally, it is also a hoot to drive on single-lane mountain roads. Paddle shifters, good visibility, and a maintain-momentum attitude add up to the old saying “I’d rather drive a slow car fast”.

      • 0 avatar

        Careful. A TON of them ended up on rental lots, so look for the bar codes on the ones you see in the wild.

        No hate for the Fiat500 here, I actually find I have a strange attraction to the car.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s a lady in our other building who cruises a Smart car, I’ve got a good look at it since I’ve been at this job. While this could be said of all cars in that segment, I just look at it and think you’re toast in anything beyond a 5 mph collision. Having been in several accidents in my life, I’m here today precisely because I’ve never driven anything so small and wore my seat belt, as none of the cars I’ve been in wrecked had airbag for me. A thousand airbags isn’t going to help much with 4,000lbs coming at you at 30+ mph, I don’t care what NHTSA says.

        That’s what scares me about the ‘A/B’ segment, I don’t want someone’s death on my conscience because I made a mistake on the road and it could have been prevented if they were driving a normal sized (C+ segment) automobile.

      • 0 avatar

        The death may also be prevented if you were driving a smaller car…

        Actually, safety was a major concern when she bought the car, and the number of active and passive safety system built into the car makes me feel more comfortable with her driving around in it.

        Do you know why it’s so tall? So that the driver is sitting above the height of other vehicles bumpers and the seat absorbs side impacts instead of your hips.

        Do you know why it has the weird two-tone paint job? To emphasize the roll cage that’s built into the structure of the car.

        Do you know the benefit of the wheel base being so short? Most impacts will hit a wheel and the force of those impacts will be dispersed by the axles.

        You know what matters more? Defensive driving.

      • 0 avatar

        A couple of replies down, someone actually laid it out there when it comes to mileage, we forget that not all of us drive on the interstate exclusively and that many of us drive a combination of both highway and city driving, add in slow rush hour driving, it’s a wonder we ever make the states MPG claims on a daily basis when we only look at the highway mileage.

        These smaller A segment (and sometimes B segment cars too for that matter) claim to fame is often better CITY mileage, that is, getting over 30mpg city (when they do that is), even if the highway mileage isn’t any better than a typical modern B/C segment car.

        I’d also wager that even though the laws of physics still prevail in that a larger car will protect better in an accident, it takes MUCH more design parameters to build a GOOD, safe small car than it does a larger one, in general.

        Even back in the 1990’s, I never felt at risk driving what was then a 10 YO Honda Civic on the interstate, doing roughly 70mph over long distances.

        Also, some of us enjoy taking the back twisty roads to get somewhere, or just for fun and in many cases, you can’t maintain a stead speed on those roads so that will affect your overall mileage to a degree too.

        I did that last weekend when I drove down on Friday, leaving work at 3:30 to head to the Washington coast to good friend’s beach cabin and hitting stop and go traffic for the first 1/4th of the way, once in Tacoma, my progress picked up considerably and I was taking the backroads and state highways part of the way to get to my destination as the major highway, I-5 would be a near parking lot due to a major air show at the combined military bases near Tacoma that began that day I believe.

        Once away from the major Puget Sound Corridor and it’s brutal rush hour traffic, it was a lovely trip out to the coast but driving the sometimes twisty roads would affect my mileage some as I could not maintain a steady speed, a boon to high gas mileage, relative to the car you are driving.

        Ultimately, one has to consider the types of driving they do and consider the mileage for that kind of driving so if a lot of city/rush hour driving, consider the city mileage, lots of highway driving, consider that, but if you do a combo of both, consider the combined average, what’s so hard about that?

      • 0 avatar

        Watch the crash test videos of the Smart, they are very good at withstanding impacts, problem is there is not much to absorb the energy compared to a larger, heavier vehicle. The passengers tend to turn into jelly while the structure of the car stays intact.

      • 0 avatar

        Well I just got back from a weekend jaunt in Toronto, and in this city I personally saw at least 6-12 of the Smart cars along with a whole host of other vehicles including more Mazdas than I have ever seen in my life. Gentleman you all make valid points, and while there may be quite a bit of engineering I am ignorant of in the Smart model lineup, Toronto presents an eclectic mix of American and foreign makes, both large and small. I definitely saw more smaller autos than where I am from, but the proportion is maybe 1/3rd of everything on the road. If you’re travels take you from a flat outside the city center into downtown for your job, the Smart may be the choice for you, that was probably its intended audience. However bear in mind there are plenty of buses, delivery vans, box trucks, and construction vehicles which can ruin your day in a minor collision, even if every other motorist is driving a very small automobile as you may be.

        I think azmtbkr81 about summed up my concerns for the segment:

        “The passengers tend to turn into jelly while the structure of the car stays intact.”

        Hopefully those in the smaller segment cars practice safe defensive driving and others on the road do the same.

    • 0 avatar

      For those who think not being able to get 40 MPG is a deal breaker, let’s deal in reality. At 40 MPG over 10,000 miles, fuel use is 250 gallons, at 37 MPG at 10,000 miles fuel use is 270 gallons. At $4.00/ gallon and the difference of 20 gallons that is a total of $80.00 in additional fuel cost, not much additional payout for 10,000 miles. If the Spark’s price is 2K below a Fit or similar car, you are way ahead vs. the lower MPG rating. I realize 40 plus MPG is the Holy Grail to some, but I stopped watching Monty Python years ago.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t understand the lack of nuanced understanding surrounding fuel consumption. If you drive a lot of highway miles, look at the highway rating; if you drive a lot of city miles, look at the city rating.

        The people who only look at the biggest number frustrate me with their ignorance especially because they are the people who also don’t understand that one of the largest factors in real fuel consumption is driving style.

        “Why’s my Prius not getting 51 em pee gees?”

        Um, because you floor it everywhere.

        “Why’s my Elantra not getting 40 em pee gees?”

        Um, because you log only city miles.

      • 0 avatar

        With all the expensive add-on’s designed and built for achieving high MPG’s, drivers could, instead, simply put a potato between gas pedal and floorboard.

  • avatar

    If this car had a 1.2 turbo or a 1.0 turbo engine, and a 35/40mpg rating, it would find its audience for sure. But with an anemic 1.2 NA engine and a pathetic 28/37 rating, it’s a complete waste of time.

    • 0 avatar

      Naw… it still looks like a penalty box, or a toy for small children. Not even Aston Martin could “legitimize” the A-segment car.

      If GM wants to catch this generation they need to make a car that focuses on what “we” care about (appearance + technology + low running costs) and is just passable in what we don’t (performance). I will never forget seeing a hipster in Crown Heights with a 1st gen Prius. That’s the kind of car this generation is about.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree those are laudable features in an automobile, but how if performance not important?

        If performance is not longer important in an automobile then stop the planet I want to get off…

      • 0 avatar

        Hey, there are a lot of us who spend way too much time sitting in traffic, where my beater Hyundai Accent is just as quick as everything sitting around me. Plus, there’s the matter of diminishing returns – when twenty grand buys you a minivan with nearly 300hp, frankly everything on the market has adequate performance.

      • 0 avatar

        @Maymar: It’s not just about hp….

        My wife’s SUV (4200 pound curb), a Kia Sorrento has 276hp. Seems excessive, but the 0-60 if you floor it (my wife will never do that as flooring it “scares” her) is 7.5 That means in reality it’s a 9 or 10 second 0-60 car for her.

        I guess you could say the issue is my wife, but my parents are the same way (60’s). They’d never think of flooring it to get out of trouble or get on the interstate…

    • 0 avatar

      The Spark’s EPA rating is 32/38. I’m not sure where you got 28/37.

  • avatar

    I assume they didn`t publicize a sales target because some would criticize if they miss it – witness the fervor over “only” selling 75% of target for the Volt last year. I await to see a target for the Leaf and Prius plug-in this year.
    Why give an easy target for criticism especially if its a new market for them (like the Volt) and it is easy to be off.
    I work in Pharmaceutical R&D and the commercial forecasts I see and then compared to what actually sells would make the auto industry seem like expert predictors.

  • avatar

    The fuel economy numbers are nothing to be ashamed of – its much, much easier to make a longer, lower car like the cruze aerodynamically efficient, which has much more of an effect on highway economy. Since highway driving is more efficient for conventional cars (non-hybrid), the maximum (and thus advertised) number for the spark will be very similar to the heavier, larger, more powerful cruze

    Looking at the city numbers is where the small engine & light weight really pay dividends (as does the small footprint for parking), and where the Spark makes much more sense than the cruze since the power deficit can be somewhat made up with shorter gearing too.

  • avatar

    No need to worry. Rental companies always need something cheap for their advertised $19.99 per day special. This will fill the space previously occupied by the Geo Metro.

  • avatar

    “Unfortunately, nothing says “poverty” like a tiny hatchback painted in a HI-LITER shade.”

    Excellent point, this about sums up the General’s follies in the segment.

  • avatar

    I see two problems for the Spark:

    1. The highway arms race makes any small car a tougher sell. I’d expect the GM faithful are less likely than long time owners of foreign makes to embrace the Spark because it’s small and therefore dangerous. The long time owners of foreign cars are not likely to embrace the Spark because it’s a Chevy and therefore, they believe, it’s crap. Frankly, the number of giant vehicles prowling the roads also gives me pause… and I really like small cars.

    2. It doesn’t get 40 mpg. Some potential buyers are going to look at the size of this thing and the upper 30’s mileage and decide that they might as well go for something that gets 40 as long as they’re getting something this small. Maybe I’m reading too much of my own personal biases into this but that’s exactly why I haven’t seriously considered a Smart, 500 or IQ… If I get something that’s ridiculously small, I at least want MPG bragging rights.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Since this is a Daewoo by all accounts, they should sell it to college kids and door to door by sales dudes wearing T-shirts and carrying the paperwork in back packs, riding skate boards

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Ford did something similar with Fiesta, and we all know how well that worked out!

  • avatar

    This generational stuff is so tiring. Artificial categories that shift all the time. It is the definition of intellectual sloppiness.

    That said, I’d like to restate my objections to car companies targeting 20 somethings. It just ain’t gonna work, because there’s two kinds of 20 somethings. Ones who can’t afford a new car, and ones who can. The ones who can do not want to be seen driving around in a car made for 20 somethings, because they are constantly having to deal with people underestimating them because they look young. Things that make you look young and fun-loving reinforce the idea that you are wet behind the ears.

    The ones who can’t afford a car get whatever cast off is in the family, or if their parents are well off, well, that’s like 30% of Jeep Wrangler sales right there. Nobody is going to go for the subcompact.

    • 0 avatar

      Comment of the day candidate.

      The only 20 somethings I see going for this car are those who think it is cute and value cuteness in a vehicle. Most of us 20 somethings want practical, affordable, and good dollar-to-feature ratio. In a world of 5-6 year financing the price between a Spark and Cruze means nothing.

      I’m just glad I’m lucky enough to be a 20 something who can afford a new car.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        precisely why I ma seeing an increasing number of 20+ yrs old driving< Yes Corollas, Sentras and of course Civics, not the tiny 500 and others that try to appeal to the young. Exception of course is the Mini.

      • 0 avatar

        “I’m just glad I’m lucky enough to be a 20 something who can afford a new car.”

        You, Sir, are clearly in the minority, sad to say.

        What’s worse, many in that age group don’t even care. To me, a car is like a cowboy’s horse – you don’t have a horse, basically you die…meaning living in suburbia, it’s like home on the range – personal mobility is a necessity, for public transportation in most areas doesn’t exist.

      • 0 avatar

        @Volt 230

        I thought of the people around my age (including myself) that have 2010+ cars they bought new and came up with this list:

        Ram 1500

        I can’t think of any marketing campaign I’ve seen for any of the above vehicles that pandered to our demographic. What I find interesting is how the list is full of conservatively styled vehicles that are relatively (with the exception of my GTI and the Ram) fuel efficient.

    • 0 avatar

      Best comment I’ve read in a while.

      On the other hand I’m 37 and I find a lot of “young-targeted” cars quite interesting.

      My wife/niece (31/16) wouldn’t be seen dead in an A-segment car. Too small/ugly/weird looking.

    • 0 avatar

      Excellent point. My wife and I are both in our early twenties and are in fairly staid careers (finance and nonprofit work) where, sadly, appearances do matter. Personally I am intrigued by the 500 and the MINI, and could probably “get away” with the MINI since there are plenty of 50-somethings out there who drive them. But I would never consider a “young” car (i.e. a WRX, Mustang, Civic, etc.) to drive to work as it would likely reflect poorly on me. Between us we have two Subarus (a Baja and a Forester) and a Saab 9-3 – all used, all paid for [and they weren’t handouts, either], and all conservative enough to pass muster at our respective workplaces.

      That said, those of us who you astutely recognized don’t want to be seen in a car marketed to 20-somethings, but can actually afford one, are less likely to buy new at all. Why would I spend $20K on a new Cruze when I can get fairly new Camcord/TSX350 for close to same price? Nicer car, less depreciation, lower insurance rates…

      And again, in my case, I’d not mind driving a 500 or Mini. I had a turbo Beetle in college, and I’ve test driven a cube twice. But until they start marketing these cars to 60+ year old librarians, the image thing is going to give me pause before I dare to show up to work in one.

  • avatar

    Again, given the number of supposedly youth-oriented cars from the past several years that have ended up finding success with people much closer to retirement age, what if this mis-marketing is all deliberate? I’m probably giving GM too much credit, but it doesn’t so much matter if they’re selling a product to Millenials as it matters that the actual buyers think they’re buying a car for Millenials, and it makes them cooler.

  • avatar

    So it doesn’t meet some silly fuel economy litmus test.
    So it has less than 100 horsepower.
    So it’s ugly/goofy looking
    So it’s not being marketed correctly.
    So hardly anyone on this site will touch it with a ten-foot pole.
    So what? People are still going to buy it.

    A lot of the same arguments were levied against the Scion iQ. More than 5,700 people in the US and Canada have bought them since it was launched.

    5,700. That’s not a lot of people, but it’s also not NO ONE. They’re legitimate consumers who bought what they wanted to buy.

    It’s called a niche. If someone’s not interested, they should move on.

  • avatar

    I’m tired as frack of all this generational marketing, and the generational stereotypes in the media generally. The “millennials aren’t interested in cars any more” line is particularly insulting.

    My son is 24 and has owned, in order, a 1986 Jetta Diesel, a 1955 Buick Century, a 1992 Miata, a 1962 Ford Galaxie, a 1982 Mercedes 300D, and a 1993 Miata LE. He’s likely too smart to ever buy a *new* car, but if he ever does, it won’t be a Daewoo, and it won’t be the result of Facebook or any fricking social media.

    • 0 avatar

      My niece is 16 (although she’s from Brazil) and has absolutely zero interest in cars. She has Facebook/Orkut and an iphone. She sees her friends in h.s. every day.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    It’s ironic that an article criticizing the ugly colors of the Spark includes a photo of a decent color. Should’ve gone with chartreuse.

  • avatar

    How well would an “A-segment” car, like this one hold up in regular use, versus say, a Toyota Camry? We ended up replacing a car last year for my MIL, and looked at the Versa and after driving it (with tinny CVT) and running the numbers on one: P/W, PDL, A/C, etc. we ended up going with a new Camry LE at an end of year markdown sale, with all of the above options, plus automatic and tinted windows for about 2-3k over the Versa’s price. With 60 months at 0% financing on the Camry, I figured by the time it was paid off it should still look and drive pretty well. The Versa, I felt like it would be rubbish after 5 years, everything just felt wound up and stressed. Any thoughts on how these are likely to hold up, relative to a larger car, over time?

  • avatar

    Old folks will buy a young person’s car. The reverse is generally not true.

    It makes sense to market it to a younger market, because it can’t hurt. That’s the safest decision to make, even if young people don’t end up buying them.

    In any case, it’s pretty clear that GM doesn’t intend to sell very many of these things. I assume that it’s one-part slotting exercise, one part capacity utilization, two parts CAFE compliance. Of the few of them that do sell, you’ll probably find most of them at your local rental car lot or retirement home.

    A city car is one slot below a subcompact. And say what you will, but the fuel economy is reasonable in comparison to its most direct competition (smart fortwo and Toyota/ Scion iQ). I suspect that it will do about as well as one would reasonably expect (read: not all that great), Facebook or no Facebook.

    • 0 avatar

      “You can sell a young man’s car to an old man, but you cannot sell an old man’s car to a young man.”

      Attributed to both Lynn Townsend when he took over Chrysler and Bunkie Knudsen when he took over Pontiac.

    • 0 avatar


      Wow, I actually agree 100% with you on this. Well said. I always wondered if that was because “younger” people tend to be more social and more peer-pressure influenced. I’ve found (I’m going to be 37) that as I’ve gotten older I’ve cared less what other people have thought about my purchasing/style choices. I’m too absorbed in my immediate responsibilities to care if people think my car is uncool.

      On the other hand, stuff I find interesting/unique my niece & wife wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole (most a-segment cars, “ugly” cars, differently shaped cars — prius being one…).

      I don’t think there isn’t any car I couldn’t be happy with except perhaps an automatic cvt with absolutely crappy mileage, or something that has handling so bad (old old ford windstar, I’m looking at you!) it scares me to death.

  • avatar

    I like the spark and I like that GM is willing to take a risk with it. I like its roof rails from the factory and I generally like the idea behind it. Cool touchscreen media interface, nicely loaded at around $16,500, small for city use, I dig it. I’m 24 by the way. I will be test driving it when it hits dealers.

    Car makers really need to get away from target demographics and just focus on making well built, honest vehicles. The market will decide who will buy it. When marketing the product, market it with people from all walks of life, old, young, tall, short, fat, skinny, ugly, pretty, etc. and point out the things it does well. Get creative with it. Oh, and skip the celebrities driving it saying how much they love it, as if they really own a Chevy Spark. Millenials can see right thru that crap.

  • avatar

    Make it a two-door with two inch bigger alloys and 1.2 turbo and see what happens.

  • avatar

    Most of the target market prefers compact sedans like Jetta, Mazda3, Civic, etc. They are grown up and do not want to sit at the kid’s table.

    This car is the proverbial kid’s table.

  • avatar

    The more that I see cars like this, the Smart, and the IQ the more that I think the Yugo was ahead of its time.

    Slow, tiny, easy to park, not very effecient, not easy on the eyes, and cheap.

    I find it silly how GM didn’t even paint the wheels on this one black while blowing who knows what on the huge headlights.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Old GF lives/works in Alexandria, VA. She takes buses to work. Her commute involves switching from an Alexandria bus to a DC bus. This would be a perfect car for her. She rents cars for road trips.
    I’m demographically confused. If the millennium was 2000 and it’s 2012; wouldn’t the millennials be no older than 12?

    • 0 avatar

      Millenials are people who have come of age since 2000. I’m not sure what the next step is… “Millenial plus ten?”

      From Wikipedia:

      “Generation Y, also known as Generation We, Global Generation, the Millennial Generation (or Millennials), Generation Next, the Net Generation, or the Echo Boomers are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when Generation Y starts and ends, and commentators usually use beginning birth dates ranging somewhere from the late ’70s or early 1980s to the mid 1990s or early 2000s.”

  • avatar

    xB’s primary audience was not retirees, no matter how often that is stated over the interwebz. Scion had the lowest average age in the industry when it came out. Facts ruin a good tale, don’t they.

  • avatar

    I would like to see a deeper exploration of the old person in the young person’s car and how all that works. It makes no sense to me.

    Based only on my own observations, most of the Fiesta owners I see are 30-40-50+ women and seem to be the type that probably traded out of an older “new beetle”. They still want to make a statement and pick the loudest colors and think they look cute. Scions are similar but are less of a statement/more elderly – I would say 50-80% old folks, the box machines especially. It really depends on what time of day you see them though. The old folks are out from about 10 to noon, and then btwn 1-2. Rush hour Scions are better mixed.

    The young people with money are all buying/leasing mini’s now or (often used) German SUV’s, and a few others in domestic SUV’s and the rest are trucks and misc.

    There is a few Mazda 3’s in there with young people as well- and I guess the old folks won’t tolerate the sporty ride, and the cult of import obsessed young kids don’t know that they are just buying a Focus by another name. Which is kinda funny, because I do see lots of old folks in Focuses, too during “old people hour”. Those elder-Focuses generally have untinted windows and big tall soft touring tires on them. Hard to get my head around how it all works.

    I just wonder why so many young peoples cars have such an appeal to old folks and the other way around? (lots of young people with panther-type cars, and even old Buicks out there too.)

    • 0 avatar

      Buicks and Panthers tend to be cheap, reliable, and cheap to fix.

      Though there are those few who “pimp them out” and ruin them.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes but Panthers, Buicks and American cars (new and old) in general are becoming Hip with many of today’s youth. My son is 17 and one of his friends younger brother bought a Fairmont because he thought it was cool. Hip to be square as the old song goes. Others have remarked that they don’t want a Japanese car and won’t get one when they have the choice because they are junk. One of his friends who just bought a Jeep was telling me how much he hated driving his mothers 4-runner, he is so so about his step dad’s Audi and loves his dad’s Dodge pickup. He also thinks my Panthers and Scouts are cool. The tide is turning.

      • 0 avatar

        Ford Fairmont? Really?

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    I always thought that “millenials” were persons becoming adults i.e. 18 years of age at the turn of the millenium. I could be incorrect.

    I’m 42, married w/2 kids and a dog and not at all interested in something like the Spark. But, the whole point of a free market is for a company to market what they think will sell…

    Someone said those factory wheels look awful. I agree.

  • avatar
    George B

    Something is seriously wrong with car proportions when the headlights are larger than the tire outside diameter. I only expect to see these in the wild as rental cars at Enterprise.

  • avatar

    Ah yes, Facebook marketing, what could go wrong?

  • avatar

    In order to sell, a subcompact should offer an EXCELLENT mpg rating, else customers will get a compact. More space for roughly the same price and same MPG, why not ?

    I still find this car incredibly ugly.

    I would almost be tempted to buy one, choosing an ugly color, using it as a winter beater and watching it slowly rot. Not enough money to waste on this, unfortunately for Chevrolet.

  • avatar

    I guess my area is one of the “lucky” ones that will get the Spark because I’ve seen them lined up in the rail yard. They’ve got at least 2 batches and one batch has left the yard already.

  • avatar

    GM seems to have this knack for self-sabotaging their efforts to build and market small cars. It’s the same formula every time: build a small car that’s so much of a cheap penalty box that customers will literally beg for a larger, “proper” vehicle. In the General’s mind, if you’re buying a vehicle like this, chances are you’re too poor and need to come back with more $$$/too much of a skinflint and you need to step up to a “real” car.

    I have a feeling GM’s idea of a “real” car is a 1970 Impala, optioned to the gills, of course. Or a brand-new Silverado LTZ, I forget which.

    Just chalk this one up to yet another failure in a long stream of failures from this company, and that comes from someone who’s fond of many of GM’s offerings.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      If GM has a problem today building and marketing small cars, then why is the Chevy Sonic the #1 retail subcompact in America?

      Why is the Cruze light years ahead of the Cobalt in retail sales and transaction price and moving into the 3rd model year selling without incentives the overwhelming majority of the time?

      While they are far from perfect, it seems as though you are taking the past and assuming its the same way in the present. It is not.

      • 0 avatar

        the Spark has been a most popular topic here since it seems to capture all the bile and hate that GM seems to get from the TTAC B&B (!!!) crowd

        an underdeveloped car that no one here would buy coupled with GM’s miss steps with social media marketing

        firstly one must question why GM needs so many small cars under the Cruze

        is it like Hyundai who have an i10, i20, i30, Accent, Elantra etc.?

        GM must then look at Cruze and see why it succeeds and why the Spark fails.

        GM can’t win at every level. To me Spark looks like its coming to desperation. They have this car, good or bad. They have to run the lines. What can they do to sell it?

        It may come a time that there will be a “Spark Death Watch” and it may come to a point where GM pulls the curtain on this car.

  • avatar
    Dr. Claw

    As mentioned above, I believe selling to a “demographic” is the wrong way to go about marketing a car like this.

    Selling to a “purpose” certainly is. This is a city car. Meant for easy parallel parking, and occasional highway runs. Something you wouldn’t necessarily buy if you lived out in the boonies. With that established, all you have to do is somehow come up with reasons as to why this is a better buy than the iQ or the fortwo. (Safety, might be one of those reasons in the latter).

    • 0 avatar

      “Meant for easy parallel parking, ”

      Not just any type of parallel parking. Many places don’t have those cute little white space marks painted on the pavement that you’re supposed to fit your car into. In Boston area neighborhoods, you fit the car in where you can find space – no pre-sized spots. If you see a 12 foot spot and you have a 13 foot long car, you have to keep looking. If you’re in a 10 footer, you’re golden. The smaller the car, the greater the number of available spaces and the closer you’ll be able to park to your destination.

      Take Somerville, MA for example. There are 11,600 registered vehicles per square mile according to The number seems wrong, but if you’ve ever been there, you’d believe it. This is the sort of environment that cars like the Spark, IQ and Smart become the bad-asses of the road. It’s not going to set a ring record or win stoplight races, but these vehicles will probably kick your vehicles ass when it comes to finding a parking space. For many that live in those areas, that is more important as a performance parameter than highway mileage.

      Now the question, do the auto companies realize this? Youth marketing at E4 and PAX East is fine, but maybe they need to show up at the various festivals in urban communities as well.

  • avatar

    Looks wise it’s no different than most A/B segment cars ; a mix of cute, ugly and vulgar. It’s like every manufacturer makes a deliberate effort to design ridiculously awkward sub-compacts in order to push potential buyers into the next model up. Want to actually sell a lot of small cars? Stop making them look like Pokémons on wheels. I bought a b-segment car myself and even though the car is very well suited to my needs I can’t help wishing it didn’t look so goofy.

    The Spark will pretty much sell to people like me who can get past the shameful looks because it suits their needs. Nearly no one will actually desire a Spark and most will stretch their budget to acquire a Cruze. The worst part is that I’m pretty sure that’s OK with GM.

  • avatar

    The older chevy sparks (rounded ones copied by the Chinese QQ) are used heavily as yellow taxis in the country of Colombia. I loath them. I think they are 3 cylinders (in a mountainous country).

    The more reliable bouncy tiny Hyundai Atos are preferred.

    The new angular decent looking chevy spark is sold in Colombia for a high price due to high taxes (think Europe). People seem to like them (I don’t).

    They are cheap Daewoo junk but given that it costs GM probably nothing to bring another model to the USA it is probably not a bad idea.

    Any marketing to get 20 somethings out of lowered fart can exhaust 10 yr old civics to me is money well spent and appreciated.

  • avatar

    I do not look forward to seeing tons of these cars on the “economy” class rental lots.

    But people will buy them, just because they are among the cheapest cars you can buy.

  • avatar
    Mr Nosy

    All this generational marketing cross talk sounds like so much belly button lint rhetoric that gathered together,could maybe sell as something on etsy. The car’s detailing is ugly,whether you’re generation greatest,silent,boomer,buster,x,y,z,d,e,f,g,in ways that other recent small cars have avoided.Those too large,angry,and angular headlights make it look like it had a cheap eye & brow lift in TJ.The detail on the side mirrors need a few pennies worth more paint.Entry level wheelcovers on cop cars look bettter-Can’t GM stay one step ahead of auto parts stores? The price point undercuts others in this segment,but sparking a reminder about GM’s styling cars like “angry kitchen appliances”,is not gonna move the merch.

  • avatar

    Saw one in person today with a 30+ woman behind the wheel. Snot green hatchback (4dr?). Still had temporary tags on it, but she already had junk hanging from the mirror. It’s an absolutely horrific thing to look at, even by my low aesthetic standards. The pictures don’t do it justice. The proportions, the style, everything is just wrong. Much worse in person. It makes the Aztec look functional and handsome. I had no idea it could get this bad. Surprisingly small, too in a “is that thing really street legal?” kind of way.

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