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The Rest Of The World Loves The 2013 Chevy Spark: Will Americans?

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2013 Chevrolet Spark shown at Los Angeles Auto Show, Nov 2011

2013 Chevrolet Spark shown at Los Angeles Auto Show, Nov 2011

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There’s something about the tiny 2013 Chevrolet Spark that has made General Motors go crazy for infographics.

We’ve already seen Chevrolet use them to compare the pint-sized Spark to a 1973 full-size car. Now they’re back to prove how popular the tiny Spark is around the world. 

Proving the smallest car Chevrolet has ever sold in the U.S. is truly a global car, the infographic squeezes in Spark facts from Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa and South America. 

Did you know, for example, that the Spark is Chevrolet’s most popular car in India, or that pink is the favorite color for buyers in South Korea? 

No, neither did we. 

Nor did we know that the Chevrolet Spark is considered a status symbol for South Americans. 

Thanks to Chevy’s cheery infographic, we now do. 

Chevrolet Spark Infographic

Chevrolet Spark Infographic

But while we love the fact that Chevrolet is taking time to celebrate its 600,000 global sales figure of the tiny Spark to date, we’re not sure its successes overseas predicates a success in the U.S.

Priced from $12,995 including destination for a base-model, complete with 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine and standard five-speed manual transmission, it certainly competes on price with other mini-cars like the slightly-cheaper 2013 Smart ForTwo and more-expensive 2013 Scion IQ and 2013 Fiat 500.

With an EPA approved rating of 34 combined for the 5-speed manual and 32 mpg combined for the 4-speed automatic, the tiny Spark offers some reasonable gas mileage figures.

But as we’ve said before, with the much larger -- and higher gas-mileage -- 2012 Chevy Sonic Sedan only a few thousand dollars more, the Chevy Spark may lose out to Chevrolet’s next-smallest car.

2013 Chevrolet Spark

2013 Chevrolet Spark

Enlarge Photo

It’s worth noting too, that the U.S. minicar market is a tiny proportion of total new car sales, approximately 100,000 cars in a market of between 12 and 15 million cars. 

The rest of the world clearly loves the Chevrolet Spark, but will the U.S.?

Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.

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Comments (10)
  1. People in the US love "larger" cars... Civic, Accord, Camery are all getting larger over time in the US. Supersizing in the food, waistband size carry over to the cars...
     
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  2. Yep, I always try to spell Camry ad Camery as well :)
     
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  3. (sigh...) what is wrong with Americans? We've collectively forgotten how to drive a stick. Yes, I know, technology has made it possible for an auto to be even slightly more efficient than a manual transmission. BUT, driving an automatic is a numbing experience. We seem to favor more power to make up for that numbness. So we buy wasteful cars. My '95 55HP 5sp Geo Metro was a blast of a go-cart to drive. If GM would just put a good 6-speed manual in the Spark and forget those 90-some % of USA Sparks that are 4speed autos, we'd see much better mpg.
    I'm still getting a Spark. Overall it's a marvel of economical practicality. But the Euro version is some 300 pounds lighter and significantly more fuel efficient. USA priorities frustrate me!
     
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  4. @Michael: OK, but as we frequently have to point out, your 1995 Geo Metro could not legally be sold new today. Among other things, it wouldn't meet new and stiffer safety test requirements. It's also possible that its acceleration would be viewed as inadequate.

    The U.S. Spark is most likely heavier than the Euro version for that reason (additional structural reinforcements), as well as more (and heavier) airbags and perhaps some other features for the U.S. market as well.

    Not sure about the engineering, but it's possible that the 5-speed used in the Spark is the largest that'll fit--or perhaps it's a cost issue. We note the Fiat 500 also has a 5-speed.
     
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  5. John, I was not suggesting the '95 Geo metro would be adequate by today's rules and standards. My point was the wrong-headedness (in my opinion) of opting for a basic automatic transmission on an admittedly underpowered vehicle. The Spark, whether US version or UK version, is significantly more powerful per pound than the Geo was, but that 4-speed auto transmission unnecessarily saps zip from it. I agree with you that some of the US Spark's weight-gain relative to the Euro version must be from safety requirements. I stand by my statement that U.S.priorities for cars are frustrating to me. The only reason that vehicles "need" to be more powerful than 20 years ago is that consumers make it the "norm."
     
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  6. @Michael: Thanks for the clarification. Note that the base 2013 Chevrolet Spark comes with a five-speed manual. The automatic transmission is an optional extra.

    Certainly a four-speed automatic is old technology, but there may be packaging issues preventing a larger unit with more gears. (Also worth noting that the very popular Toyota Corolla still makes do with a four-speed automatic--rather to our surprise.)

    As for U.S. priorities, yeah, acceleration has gotten much quicker over the last two decades. Here's some relevant background:
    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1022351_surprise-heavier-more-powerful-cars-get-worse-gas-mileage
     
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  7. @Michael: Finally, it's always tricky to compare Euro and U.S. mileage ratings. In our experience, because the test cycles and "adjustment factors" differ, European figures tend to be 15 to 25 percent more optimistic than U.S. ones. And, as noted above, the cars aren't directly comparable--different engine options, equipment, and weight.
     
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  8. Yep, it's tricky to compare. But even taking into account the weight differences and average differentials between the epa and European and UK testing methods, a number of expert reviews I read were predicting the U.S. Spark would surpass 45mpg hwy. Somehow epa's numbers fell well short of that. Since the Fiesta was also rated at 38hwy, and many drivers find they can get easily over 40mpg, I'm hopeful that's also possile with the Spark. Of course, driving conditions (can't do much about that) and driving style (we certainly can choose to drive less aggressively)can make a significant different in mpg.
     
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  9. @Michael: Good comparison. For highway mileage, though, a major contributor is aerodynamic drag, and it's simply harder to make a very short car slippery. That's why compact four-door sedans frequently do better than subcompact hatchbacks in EPA ratings: They have lower drag coefficients due to better management of the airflow coming off the rear of the car.
     
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  10. Euro gets lighter vehicles and better gas from the same American companies. We are all a bunch of slaves. "our" cars pass "stricter" crash tests and perform adequate on crappy gas. CVT ??!! anybody remember the 2SPEED tranny on 60's chev ? I will not be surprised if "we" get upped crash requirements - more weight. shouldn't motorcycles get air bags ? America luvs ridiculous laws.
     
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