Chevrolet Really Wants Hip Young People to Think (and Buy) Small

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The official launch of the first-generation Chevrolet Spark played out like a detective in a comedy film who has to go undercover in a high school, all the while clumsily pretending to be hip. It was an awkward pander to the Millennial first-time car buyer, set to too-carefully chosen music.

With refreshed and updated small car models on their way (or already here), General Motors wants young people to rediscover their often overlooked bottom-rung vehicles, so it left the marketing to experts.

Today, GM announced that it partnered with media companies .Mic, Complex and Thrillist to hock the Chevrolet Spark, Sonic and Trax, with select videos appearing on Funny or Die and (!) involvement of “up and coming” artists Kickstand Band.

Don’t worry, the marketing will still be all about lifestyles. Synergistic and dynamic lifestyles, one can hope. And it will all go down at a new website dedicated to the models — ChevySmallCars.com

Marketing cynicism aside, GM has good reason to prop up the bottom end of its model range. The Spark saw a redesign for 2016, and dropped its questionable 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine in favor of a non-turbo version of the Cruze’s 1.4-liter mill.

The Spark is also a hell of a deal in Canada, where it can be had for less than $10,000. (This’ll get them off their bikes, the bean counters thought.)

The refreshed 2017 Sonic arrives later this year with new looks and buckets of connectivity designed to lure in people who care about that kind of stuff. Sonic sales fell off last year, but it’s still the most popular Chevy among first-time buyers.

The 2017 Trax benefits from a restyle that’s very much in line with its small car stablemates, though it doesn’t get the power boost from its 1.4-liter turbo that its twin, the Buick Encore, receives.

We can only hope that GM goes easy on the emoji use this time.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Eggsalad Eggsalad on May 10, 2016

    Chevy may want people to buy the Spark, but Chevy *dealers* do not. When they first came out, I went to test-drive one. The salesman asked if I ever drove on the highway, and when I said "of course", he told me I did not want a Spark. Salesmanship at its finest! Millennials also must not want clutches. Every Chevy dealer in Las Vegas stocks a single, stripped out Spark LS, in either white or gray, with a manual transmission. That's the "bait-and-switch" model. If you want power windows and a clutch, you can't buy a Spark in Las Vegas, because the dealer won't sell it.

    • Revjasper Revjasper on May 11, 2016

      Funny enough, the dealer I visited in Portland also had one manual base model on the lot. But they also had a few Spark EVs as well. What wasn't funny was the difference in lease deals. The EV was on a $109/mo with $499 down, 36 months at 10K a year. You couldn't get near the gas one for money like that. Bumping it up to 12K per year gets you to $115.86, and Chevy pays the first payment. They'll sell (lease) you one of those. "I'll take it." Less than 90 minutes later I was home in my new car.

  • Brett Woods Brett Woods on May 10, 2016

    This is my 2 cent read: Subliminal sales scenarios aimed at young working women and those dreaming of their first job. Style: Child's click-on program. 1. (Day) Working got no ride you have child care and/or you're an adventurous wanderer. Subliminal alternate ending: The overbearing guy you rely on leaves and it's your ride. Easy going low maintenance guy can stay. Maybe you'll give him a ride or he can share the car with you and your kid. 2. (Evening) Meet weird guys (entertaining masked men): drink (energy drink, megaphone, camping lantern cup), sleep with them (hotel, sleeping bag, bedroom animals), you're far away (map, boonies), got your own ride home.

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on May 10, 2016

      You should pitch that to a network for a TV series.

  • Charles The UAW makes me the opposite of patriotic
  • El scotto Wranglers are like good work boots, you can't make them any better. Rugged four wheel drive vehicles which ironically make great urban vehicles. Wagoneers were like handbags desired by affluent women. They've gone out of vogue. I can a Belgian company selling Jeep and Ram Trucks to a Chinese company.
  • El scotto So now would be a good time to buy an EV as a commuter car?
  • ToolGuy $1 billion / 333.3 million = $3 per U.S. person ¶ And what do I get for my 3 bucks -- cleaner air and lower fuel prices? I might be ok with this 🙂🙂
  • VoGhost Matt, I'm curious why you write that inventory levels are low at 74 days. Typically, 60 days is the benchmark for normal inventory.
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