Chevrolet’s Cheap Minicar, the Spark, Is a Surprisingly Strong Seller
By JACLYN TROP
Published: August 16, 2013
The tiny Chevrolet Spark from General Motors is about as bare bones as cars come these days, with hand-crank windows, no floor mats and one of the smallest engines of any car. Air-conditioning is optional. But to the surprise of even G.M. itself, which has traditionally struggled to sell small cars, the Spark has become an unlikely hit as many American buyers warm to a car that is cheap to buy and to operate.
The Spark, made in South Korea, seats four, has room for groceries — and starts at $12,170, significantly less than the Fiat 500’s starting price of $16,100. It’s also inexpensive to run, getting about 35 miles to the gallon.
In July, sales of the Spark increased 163 percent over the previous year, its introductory month, to a record 3,847, showing that a stripped-down minicar can succeed in a market crowded with costlier rivals like the Fiat 500 that have more features and technology. Its July sales outpaced the Fiat 500’s 2,821, which was a 24 percent decline from a year earlier. Through July this year, Spark sales were 21,435, behind only the Fiat 500’s 23,892 among minicars.
“To me, it’s an appliance,” said William Wortman of Ohio City near Cleveland, who in April bought a Spark with manual transmission for his weekly 250-mile commute to his job as a toolmaker. The Spark’s 1.2-liter, four-cylinder engine makes it the smallest in the Chevrolet lineup.
“It gets me back and forth,” he said. “All I wanted was a radio.”
Even G.M. did not expect it would resonate this way with consumers. “We’re very surprised with how well the vehicle has been selling,” said Cristi Landy, Chevrolet marketing director.
More at link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/17/bu...r=yahoofinance