New Chevrolet Spark Charges Out of the Starting Gates

New Chevrolet Spark Charges Out of the Starting Gates

For the second month in a row, a new General Motors product tops the list of fastest-selling vehicles. For July, it was the just-launched Chevrolet Spark minicar; in June, it was the flagship Cadillac XTS sedan.

The monthly list of fastest-selling vehicles is based on's calculation of days-to-turn; that is, the number of days a vehicle sits at the dealership before it is sold. The Chevrolet Spark took a scant 4 days to sell; the XTS, which was June's fastest-seller, dropped to No. 5 but still had a skimpy 14 days-to-turn.

The industry average days-to-turn was 57 days in July. That number has been creeping up of late, suggesting a build-up in vehicle inventory.

It's typical for new models like the Spark, which is built in South Korea, to turn quickly as demand outstrips supply while factories ramp up production. GM has been selling the Chevrolet Spark in markets around the world, including China, but it is the first time it has been sold in North America. And it has only been on sale in 18 key markets in the U.S. for less than a month. Chevy sold 1,460 Sparks in July. That compares with the 1,271 Toyota Yaris models. The Spark's bigger sibling, the Chevrolet Sonic, which has been on sale only since the start of the year, is the segment leader in terms of sales with 6,278 sold in July.

Subcompact Car Sales

The Chevrolet Spark is the smallest car GM has ever sold in the U.S. The four-passenger, five-door hatchback is 14 inches shorter than the compact Chevrolet Sonic and is closer in size to the Fiat 500, which is four inches shorter than the Spark but the Spark has four doors while the 500 has only two. The Spark starts at $12,995 and comes in three trim levels. An all-electric version goes on sale later. notes, however, that despite its pint size, the Spark does not achieve as good fuel economy as its larger, more powerful siblings the Chevrolet Sonic and Chevrolet Cruze Eco. The Spark fails to hit the magical 40 mpg, with 32 mpg city/38 mpg highway with the manual transmission and 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway with the automatic.

Indeed, no one knows how big the extremely small car market is in the U.S., where small cars haven't been particularly popular. However, the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic have gotten off to a strong start. "We are proud of the Spark's sales performance to date. The mini car segment is small, but growing," Cristi Landy, product marketing director for Chevrolet small cars, told "Customers around the country have told us the Spark's combination of technology, price and style exceeds their expectations." Landy added that the Spark has the third highest residual value among GM vehicles, trailing only the Cadillac ATS and Chevrolet Camaro.

Days-to-Turn July 2012

As has been the case for the past few months, the new sports cars from Toyota and Subaru remained near the top of quickest-selling vehicles list in July. Both the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ average only 11 days-to-turn. The entry-level, rear-drive sports coupes, priced around $25,000, share the same underpinnings and were jointly developed by Subaru and Toyota; they are manufactured by Subaru in Japan. The Subaru Impreza, which is leading the brand to yet-another record year of sales, also ranked among the fastest-selling vehicles in July with a days-to-turn of only 13 days.

Dodge Dart

In addition to the Chevy Spark and the Cadillac XTS, another Detroit product was a newcomer to the fast-seller list in July — the Dodge Dart. The Dart, which just went into production in June at Chrysler's Belvidere, Ill., plant, is a critically important vehicle on a number of fronts. It is the first offspring of the Chrysler-Fiat merger, with the Dart springing forth from the basic architecture of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, albeit with plenty of modification. It fills a long-time gaping hole in Chrysler's model lineup as an entry in the growing small car segment, replacing the long-ago defunct Dodge Neon. Edmunds' noted that while the Dart "may unearth a name from the company's past, it is a thoroughly modern compact car. You can feel it from behind the wheel and see it when you approach it from across the parking lot. It's a competitive sedan, too, offering space, refinement and satisfying dynamics."

The remainder of the Top 20 Fast-Sellers in July consisted of the usual suspects: the newest members of the Toyota Prius family — the Toyota Prius C and Toyota Prius V; capacity constrained models from the Korean brands, notably Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Soul; and the ever-present Audi Q5 along with the Audi allroad and Audi S4.

Other relative new models on the market rounded out the list. They included the: Acura ILX, Infiniti JX, Honda CR-V, Lexus GS 450h hybrid, Porsche Boxster and Mazda CX-5.

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