GM’s Spark is an Eye-Catcher


Bloomberg News

Modern General Motors has never successfully sold such a tiny car in the U.S. as the Chevrolet Spark, but surprisingly this little subcompact entry is catching consumer interest.

Find out what this little car with lots of pizzazz has to offer.

Modern GM has never successfully sold such a tiny car in the U.S. The Spark’s success today, 26,869 U.S. deliveries in its first 12 months, exceeds GM’s initial expectations by as much as 35 percent, said one person familiar with the company’s internal planning.

The Spark ranked No. 2 for quality in its segment in J.D. Power & Associates’ Initial Quality Study, an important industry benchmark.

Unlike past attempts with the larger Chevy Aveo, the Spark is being sold with good audio systems and other features not typical for low-entry-level cars, said Larry Dominique, executive vice president of Santa Monica, California-based auto researcher TrueCar Inc.

“When you start making it not just a cheap box and start adding some pizzazz and features to it that people want, the appeal grows,” he said. “And I think GM has done a good job with that.”

GM could add those elements because Spark is largely sold outside of the U.S., giving it the scale required to make a vehicle that wouldn’t do enough business otherwise.

The company sold 275,228 Sparks last year around the world. While the car first went on sale in the U.S. in June of last year, it arrived in South Korean showrooms in 2009. GM has sold more than 720,000 globally, according to the company.

U.S. sales of the Spark through May this year totaled 14,484, a little more than 3,000 behind Chrysler’s Fiat 500 at 17,562 and about half as many as the larger Ford Fiesta’s 28,801. Toyota Motor Corp.’s Scion iQ sold 1,919 during the same period.

GM is eager to hook young consumers and keep them as they buy more expensive vehicles as they get older.

GM estimates that every percentage point of customer retention improvement will generate $700 million in additional revenue.