Where are those cute Chevy minis?
At the 2007 New York auto show, Chevrolet unveiled three minicar concepts -- the Beat, Groove and Trax -- designed to appeal to young car buyers in urban markets.
What became of those concepts?
Two have been scrapped, as intended. The survivor, the Beat, has a new name and what Chevrolet hopes is a promising future. The Beat evolved into the Spark, which will go on sale in the United States in the second half of 2012.
Chevrolet's minicar concepts appeared after DaimlerChrysler announced plans to sell the Smart ForTwo minicar in the United States. The three concepts were all shorter than the 154-inch Aveo, the smallest Chevrolet being sold in the United States at the time.
To learn which of the three concepts potential customers preferred, General Motors conducted an online poll.
"It was quite different than anything we've done in the past," recalled Ed Welburn, GM vice president of global design. "It was a great way to have a positive dialogue with our consumers."
Nearly half of the 2 million people who participated in the poll chose the Beat, then a three-door hatchback, over the Groove retro-styled wagon and the Trax small crossover.
A consumer clinic conducted by GM got similar results.
In November 2007, Chev-rolet announced that it would build a minicar based on the Beat. The production Spark was unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March 2009.
The Spark went on sale in the first quarter of 2010 in Europe, India, South Korea and Turkey. In Europe it replaced the Matiz minicar. GM says that 173,723 Sparks had been sold globally through August 2011.
The Spark has evolved into a five-door hatchback with a four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. It gets more than 45 mpg in Europe, a Chevrolet spokesman said. The car is assembled in South Korea.
In the United States, the Spark will compete against small cars such as the ForTwo and Fiat 500.
It will be about 15 inches shorter and 5 inches narrower than the Chevrolet Sonic. The spokesman said the Spark will be priced below the 2012 Sonic, which stickers at $14,495, including freight.