Going Sparkless? Korea Thinking of Discontinuing America's Smallest GM Car

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
going sparkless korea thinking of discontinuing america s smallest gm car

Last week it was the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic and a report that the little four- or five-door could bite the dust by the end of this year. Now we hear the Spark — General Motors’ smallest U.S. offering — could also be on its way to the nameplate graveyard.

Oddly, the Reuters report, which cites a GM Korea spokesman, comes just a few days after the unveiling of the refreshed 2019 Spark. Like other Gamma II platform small vehicles, the Spark comes to us by way of Korea. As you know, that embattled division is currently struggling for survival, and it doesn’t much like the look of America’s falling Spark sales.

So, what would replace the Spark and give GM Korea’s threatened factories a safer product bet? You already know the answer to this. A crossover.

We detailed the Spark’s sales history after looking at the changes coming for 2019. Sales of the little city car fell consistently in the U.S. after 2014, with 2018 volume down 2.7 percent at the end of March. At the same time, Canadian buyers are taking to the model in ever greater numbers, though not enough to offset the American loss.

An unspecified crossover, surely built on the automaker’s small car architecture, could offer the division a reprieve. GM Korea needs to present the country’s government with a business plan before the end of April in order to secure Seoul’s support. That means first crafting a product plan, freeing up operating funds, and reaching a deal with its militant labor union. Already, GM Korea has threatened bankruptcy in the hopes of strong-arming concessions. Unionized workers responded by trashing executive offices.

If GM Korea pulls itself out of this mess, the Spark won’t disappear overnight. The spokesman said production of the Spark-replacing crossover wouldn’t begin until 2022. In the meantime, Opel owner PSA Group plans to bring production of the Opel Karl (a rebadged Spark) to Europe by 2020, further decreasing output at GM’s Korean factories.

America’s still hot-selling subcompact Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore crossovers ride atop the same Gamma II architecture as the Spark and Sonic, which means any new vehicle would have to avoid stepping on those models’ toes. Is American interested in a sub-subcompact Chevy utility vehicle?

Interestingly, the Spark already available in soft-roader Activ configuration. This mighty beast boasts 0.4 inches of additional ground clearance and a modest dose of body cladding, but its scarcity on dealer lots and roadways shows that buyers demand a little more capability to go with their off-road pretentions.

[Images: General Motors]

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  • Bd2 Bd2 on Apr 09, 2018

    Not really surprising as GM has 20+ hybrids, PHEVs, EVs and fuel cells in development - of which some (which will include the CUV form-factor) will be GM's small car replacements. We're basically seeing small lifted hatches replace small 4-door sedans and non-lifted hatches.

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Apr 10, 2018

    Colorado's from Korea would give GM Korea some better profits in the US than tiny cars.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.