If money talks then the word on the street has it that Chevrolet’s Spark mini car is one of the newest cool kids.
Delivery began quietly a little more than a month ago in select markets, surprising dealers and GM execs alike. Even more surprising, the car seems to hold broad appeal with customers reportedly running the gamut from young to old. Just within the car’s restricted sales market, which includes New York, Chicago and 18 cities in total, GM can already boast selling 4,090 units.
Now, IHS Automotive is forecasting 27,000 units will sell in 2013 — the car’s first full year of production and sale. But is this really such a surprise or just GM patting itself on the back for something that could have been predicted? After all, other cars similar in size like the Fiat 500 are enjoying a warm reception as well.
Maybe not. One of the Sparks major pucker points for its brand bosses might turn out to be its biggest strength — pricing. As a Korean-built car with wafer-thin margins, marketing the Spark was a little like betting big on 31 black. A flopped launch could mean a big loss, but then again the Spark only costs $12,995 including delivery.
For some perspective, the similarly-sized Fiat 500 has a starting price about $2,500 higher than the Spark. Many new car buyers drop that much on an option package, but in a budget-minded micro car three grand is a big margin.
Unfortunately, the margins are so mellow on the dealer side that some showrooms might write it off as a waste of time with profits in the hundreds of dollars per sale. Some stores say that’s hardly enough to pay a sales commission.
Still, the Spark could serve as a bait to bring GM new customers both as first-time byers and brand newcomers which could turn out to be long-term payment enough.