Chevrolet plans to take the wraps off the new 2016 Spark – twice, with a dual debut scheduled at the upcoming auto shows in New York and Seoul.
The Korean-made minicar has been defying recent trends that have seen sales of small passenger cars slump in light of the drop in fuel prices. Demand for the Chevrolet Spark surged 32% during the first two months of 2015 compared to the same period last year.
Though the 2016 Spark will retain its basic, tall hatchback shape, GM promises a “sleeker, more aerodynamic profile and a progressive take” on the outgoing model’s basic design cues. That fits into efforts to win over young urban buyers who want something small but not necessarily a basic econobox.
“The new Spark’s design has evolved and grown up with the segment,” said Michael Simcoe, GM International vice president of Design, said in a statement accompanying this teaser image. “The youthful whimsy of the original Spark is still in its genes, but it is conveyed in more traditional proportions that reinforce the customer’s refined expectations.”
(Chevy also plans to reveal the next-generation Malibu in NY next month. Click Here for a closer look.)
The Spark dates back to 1998, when it was launched by what was then known as Daewoo as the Matriz. GM took over the failing Korean carmaker in 2002 and an updated version of the city car followed three years later.
It was soon exported to a number of markets around the world – a list that initially excluded the U.S. In 2007, GM unveiled three concept versions, the Beat, Trax and Groove, hoping to test American interest. A pre-production version, renamed the Chevrolet Spark, was unveiled at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The production model debuted at the Geneva Motor Show two months later.
(Click Here to check out the 10 hottest debuts at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.)
Today, it is available in 71 different markets, and the U.S. lags only South Korea in terms of annual sales. Since late 2001, Chevy has sold more than 1.1 million of the minicars.
That includes 1,144 Chevrolet Spark EVs sold in all of 2014. That was the first pure battery-electric vehicle GM has offered since the demise of the old EV1 two decades ago.
While that might seem a modest figure compared to some other battery-based models, such as the Nissan Leaf, website InsideEVs.com notes, “No one should read anything into any monthly sales number when it comes to the Spark EV….as GM basically sets their own monthly sales number by curtailing inventory. GM could sell a lot more if they wanted to.”
The maker has not confirmed plans for an EV version of the next-generation Chevy Spark. It has been focusing attention lately on another battery-based model it is planning to launch next year, the Chevrolet Bolt which is promised to deliver about 200 miles per charge, more than double that of the current Spark EV.
(For more on the Chevrolet Bolt battery-electric vehicle, Click Here.)
As with the outgoing Spark, expect to see Chevy offer a wide variety of different powertrains, depending on the market. Beyond the battery version, the current model is outfitted with 1.0- and 1.2-liter gas engines, as well as a diesel in India, and an LPG version in Italy.
Along with the design upgrades, expect to see Chevy deliver a more refined interior outfitted with the updated infotainment technologies that young motorists have come to expect.