The headlines: a) the 2016 Chevrolet Spark is aggressively here for millennials b) For the money, the Spark is hard to beat. (Ask Nissan.) c) GM has done its homework. But first:
Q: “How many hipsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
A (delivered in a gently patronizing tone): “It’s a really obscure number; you’ve probably never heard of it.”
More than a quick solution to an inexorable word count, that knee-slapper paints you a picture of GM’s target buyer: expectant, demanding and painfully individual. She has two post-secondary degrees papering her bathroom wall but has never used a dial phone. He took tango lessons in Buenos Aires and cast his late cat’s ashes to the winds during a Reykjavik winter solstice but waited till he was 28 to get his driver’s license.
Most important, she is actively disinterested in cars, deeply embedded in the sharing economy and used to getting things free. If you want him to cough up money from his first job with benefits (a phrase he delivers deadpan) you’d better pack your offering full of value.
(An aside: I was fortunate enough to have a millennial with me during the drive portion of the launch event but he didn’t fit any of the stereotypes portrayed here. So this is the last we’ll hear of him today, now that you know he’s the other half of ‘we’ in this article, and the use of the first person plural isn’t some hipster’s post-modern ironic take on entitled royals’ speech. Now back to your regularly scheduled unfair lampooning of this target market with extra love shone on that target aspect.)
Meet the 2016 Spark: a car designed for urbanites who don’t care about cars.
A millennial’s first-car checklist is likely different from yours. Let’s review it:
___ Does the car work? When you’re young and bearded, performance matters little beyond getting from A to B.
___ If it breaks down, is there a backup plan beyond asking Siri what to do next? In the sharing economy, someone else is always there to do stuff you’re not good at. (“Thanks, mom!”)
___ Speaking of which, does the car accommodate or, better still, enhance my portable technology?
___ Is it cute and friendly looking?
___ And most important but less overtly stated, is it cheap? Student debts are this generation’s mortgages.
Chevrolet Canada ticked all those boxes.
Coming in under $10k for the base model LS (pre-tax and freight) and the top-end 2LT, completely decked out with tux ’n’ tails, for under $20k; more details follow below after lots of ironically obscure Schopenhauer references, but suffice it to say that base model is packed with what George Harrison (“my ma’s a fan and I like those early ‘80s electronica B-sides that sound like an Atari Pong skirmish on Ritalin”) would call “fab gear”.
- 4G LTE with Wifi – yes, the car is a wireless hotspot. Starbucks should send GM a fruit basket for denuding millions of their tables of hipsters
- MyLink Radio with 7” colour touchscreen – yes, a touchscreen in the base model; this customer expects it all
- Rear Vision camera – WTF, as the kids text?! Though usually expensive, rearview cameras are less status symbol in the city than insurance policy against excessive scratching
- Apple Car Play / Android Auto – don’t worry, the target audience knows what that means.
Wow, all that! If we had a cartoon font on this website we could use the phrase “chock full of” and a killer sound effect. Meanwhile, remember the first rule of war: Some people get rich. Chevy and Nissan are in a pissing match over this segment, both manufacturers wanting to claim the lowest-priced new car in Canada. Chevy launched the first salvo in January this year, dropping the Spark’s base price quite deeply to $3 less than the Micra.
Which, to be honest, really is a bit of a poke in the eye. Imagine the boardroom meetings. Nissan soon responded by dropping their price to $7 less than Chevy’s.