By on February 2, 2022

Image: General Motors

Our man Tim passed judgment on the diminutive Spark earlier this year after a stint behind the wheel of a rental, dragging it by the scruff of its neck around the American southwest. It appears he did so just in time because the subcompact bowtie hatchback ceases production this August.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this development, of course, given Detroit’s seemingly instantiable appetite for SUVs and crossover-like vehicles. Sedans and true hatchbacks have been vanishing like ice in the Arizona desert; this news marks simply the latest casualty, and one can argue it is another nail in the coffin of Detroit affordability. The wee Spark had a starting price of $14,595 in America, making it one of the least-expensive vehicles on the market right now.

Sales reps in Chevy showrooms will surely try converting customers to either the Traxxxxxxxx or TrailBlazer, both of which have a sticker in excess of twenty grand. Shoppers looking for a new car whose price tag starts with a ‘1’ will now have to point themselves towards stores with Nissan or Mitsubishi signage.

This brings up the age-old argument in which it is said the real competition for cars like the Spark et al is actually a good second-hand vehicle. If someone has $14,595 to spend on wheels, do they select a fresh Spark with a full warranty and new-car smell? Or do they seek out a vehicle that is a couple of model years old and has already gone through the wringer of depreciation? In pre-pandemic times, lightly-used small sedans could be found for around that price, brimming with air conditioning and other features potentially not found on these El Cheapo new cars. Of course, in today’s market, those valuations are out the window.

Here’s a terrifying stat: The average price of a new car, as reported by KBB earlier this year, rose to a stunning $47,077 by the end of 2021. The loss of small cars like the Spark has surely contributed to this superheated figure, along with the usual scapegoats of supply chain problems and chip shortages. Even with a microscopic slice of the market, these affordable cars helped temper – even if ever so slightly – prices commanded by SUVs and other tall wagons.

Powering the Chevy Spark was an all-aluminum 1.4-liter four-banger making about 100 horsepower, hooked to a manual transmission or a CVT, depending on trim level. The Spark is GM’s only model to currently use this engine in its non-turbocharged form, so don’t expect it to hang around after the car disappears at the end of this summer.

[Image: GM]

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43 Comments on “Dousing the Spark: Chevy’s Littlest Car Vanishes This Year...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    They even made it in an “Activ” trim with black plastic cladding and a roof rack

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Too bad. Even if you don’t like the Spark, its presence represented functional affordability.

    Consumers and manufacturers are marching hand-in-hand up the price ladder. Entry-level buyers will just buy used for longer, while they rent longer, and pay their student loans for longer.

    GM won’t shed a tear over the Spark, not when they can sell Tahoes at a premium.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    And then there were none…

  • avatar
    ajla

    Corral those wretches that can’t afford a $50K vehicle onto the bus where they belong and then cover up the bus windows with ads so I don’t have to look at them.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Damn shame, as the Spark was a rather good car for the money, the size, and the practicality. I’ve driven a few of them in my time, and never had a complaint about the car. Keep in mind I love small cars, and can really appreciate a well done inexpensive automobile.

    GM has absolutely no interest in me as a customer anymore. I don’t want to spend enough money to be worth their while.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    I swore that I would never buy a GM vehicle again. in 1983 when I got rid of the last Chevrolet that I owned. Now I will likely never buy another car of any kind. I am late seventies and I drive a 2003 Ford Escape with only 71 thousand miles on it. It should never wear out as I drive it less than one thousand miles a year. Most of my running round is done on my motor scooter, also about one thousand miles a year. Not much place to go when you live in a small village less than one mile square. The mountains of Mexico are a wonderful place to spend your declining years. Since my vow about GM, I have owned a lot of Hondas, Chrysler products and Fords. Getting good service out of all. No more GMs at all.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    If GM is abandoning a market that’s a good sign its about to increase. With Bidenflation pushing earning power lower in the U.S. each day, I’d bet vehicles like this will become increasingly important to working class folks.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Yes there are a lot of lower income people young and old that can only afford a vehicle like the Spark or an older compact vehicle. GM needs to look at coming out with an affordable compact truck similar to the Maverick but knowing GM it will take them 5 years to a decade to do so and I doubt Barra is interested in it. Stelantis could very well come out with a compact truck based on the Fiat. GM is an ever shrinking company waiting to be bought out.

    • 0 avatar

      At this point the entry level car market is dominated by Hyundai and Kia, and a little bit Nissan. I see lots of Elantras and Sentras around. Near me the Honda, Toyota and Mazda dealers don’t bring in anything under a 25K MSRP, so in theory you can buy a cheap civic it’s not really that easy. On the other hand the local Nissan place Usually has a dozen Sentras around the 20k mark same with H and K dealers. H and K makes alot of noise about the more expensive offerings but their low end being so good i what got them to this point and the keep quietly improving their cheap cars.

  • avatar

    I read somewhere the Mirage is now the best=selling car in this class.
    Read about the Mirages sales surge below.
    https://www.autoevolution.com/news/mitsubishi-mirage-continues-quiet-renaissance-passes-chevy-spark-for-1-in-us-sales-174030.html

    • 0 avatar

      The mirage may not be great car, but it really has to have one of the lowest running costs of any vehicle. Even when they do break they are cheap to fix. People pick on Mitsubishi alot but they are currently making really reliable cars that can be bought on the cheap.

      • 0 avatar

        If I were offered either a Silverado or Mirage free, I would take the Mirage. The Mirage and Silverado feel cheap, but I am not paying $60,000 for the Mirage. The Mirage also has a nicer face.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeff S

          The Mirage will outlast the new Silverados especially the Mexican made ones with the loose differentials. GM use to make the longest lasting trucks but in the past decade they have really taken a nosedive quality wise. The Mirage is an inexpensive car that’s main purpose is cheap and relatively reliable and inexpensive to maintain. Maybe not the fastest or the smoothest riding but it was never intended to be those things.

          • 0 avatar

            Let’s not blame the Mexican workers for the flawed design of those differentials. It is just another case of GM cost-cutting. On a recent you-tube video from Scotty the mechanic you can clearly see the differentials flaws from just the video. The design and construction is very flimsy. To paraphrase Scotty, “GM just does not make good trucks anymore.”

          • 0 avatar

            Barra has been so obsessed with EV technology that company has let basic ICE engineering and technology slide.
            Watch the video below and see examples of GM truck quality decline.

      • 0 avatar
        ahintofpepperjack

        I owned a 2014 Mirage. They are great cars. 3 cylinder engine that’s been in production for over 15 years with no turbocharging or direct injection. 5 speed manual transmission and got 50mpg. These things are the most reliable and most efficient gas powered car available. Everyone says they want the old stripped down basic car, well here it is.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Oh no! Where will Avis get their subcompacts now??

    I predict Mirage sales will triple and be 100% rental cars. Go Mitsubishi!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I was very surprised to hear when Chevy dropped the Sonic and kept the Spark instead.

    To me, the sonic was the better vehicle, either as a hatch back or as I liked, a sedan that actually looked like a car.

    I haven’t driven either one, but had sat in them in front and back. Sonic was the better vehicle by far to me.

    My 2012 Impala was the last GM vehicle I’ll ever own. I’m an F-150 guy now, REGULAR CAB, SHORT BED, too! I love it.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      My 2012 LaCrosse will probably be the last GM vehicle I will ever buy. GM for the most part got the Impala and the LaCrosse right one of the few recent vehicles GM has made that are actually good.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Handing over more sales to the Mitsubishi Mirage. GM continues it’s spiral into irrelevance and more market share loss.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Jeez, I like kicking GM as much as anyone, but there’s a reason Ford and Chrysler gave up on small cars years ago. I like a small cheap hatch, but if I was in the business of selling them and they’re not making money, buh-bye.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      No kidding. There’s probably more comments praising the Spark on this article than on every other article about it posted here in the last decade.

      It wasn’t that good and shouldn’t really be missed.

  • avatar

    Here is a warning to GM. Toyota has already surpassed you in US domestic sales , and Ford is now only 100,000 yearly sales behind. GM is headed for a 13% US market share. This is madness!

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Base Impreza at around $19k is starting to look like a real bargain.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Shame, it was a pretty decent little car. Pour one out.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    A fair number of people just need a compact or subcompact vehicle like this due to parking concerns or they don’t need something tall and mastodon like. Not the wisest decision by GM and Ford to leave this market in the US.

    You still can move a bit upmarket and get a Corolla hatch for just over $20k. A base Mini with a special package starts at $19k or heck there might be some leftover Fiat 500s around for $17k.

  • avatar
    Skippity

    I like the Spark but the Mitsubishi has a great warranty. Anything used and out of warranty is a risk.

  • avatar
    SixtiesGuy

    GM (actually, now fittingly, gm): The Incredible Shrinking Car Company.

  • avatar
    TheMrFreeze

    I’m legit sad about this…for somebody not looking to spend a ton of dough who wants a simple city car (like the wife and I) the Spark seems a great choice. Manual trans, simple non-turbo engine with MPFI instead of DI (so no carboned up intake valves), no start-stop system to wear out your starter, no safety nannies, physical HVAC controls, some cool color choices, plus some nice options (like a sunroof). The basic-ness of the Spark means it’ll probably outlast other new cars 2-3x the price. We might need to order one of these before they go out of production, just to have an extra car on hand.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Might be worth getting one but I doubt you will be able to order one. Might want to do a search on cars.com and I wouldn’t be too choosy on color especially during Covid times with shortages. Of course you can always try to order one but aren’t they made in S Korea so it might be harder to order one.

  • avatar

    Is it time for a new GM death-watch? At least GM had a 24 percent market during the last death watch over 10 years ago. I never thought in my lifetime GM’s market-share would drop under 15% in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      @akear,

      Back when I worked for GM and had a mortgage (and GM’s U.S. market share was around 30%), I used to go to my mortgage company ever month and say something like “Hey, I work for a Very Large and Therefore Very Successful company, and they have a Large Market Share. Since they don’t pay me all that well and since I’m terrible at budgeting, can I just pay you this month with Market Share instead of with actual cash money? My employer has a Large Market Share.”

      And then they would always look at me funny and demand that I pay my mortgage with actual cash dollars. Money.

      I have never understood why they always did that – perhaps I should have worded it differently.

      Here’s an article from 1996 which I passed around at work some back then:
      https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/are-us-managers-superstitious-about-market-share/

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Neither did I. I thought GM would remain No 1. “As General Motors goes, so goes the nation.” My fear is that our nation is going the same direction.

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