S. Korea team writes recipe for smallest Chevy
By Lee Ji-yoon, The Korea Herald/Asia News NetworkSEOUL -- General Motors, the typical cash cows of which include trucks and sport utility vehicles, is profiting recently from a long-ignored segment — the mini city car.
January 22, 2013, 4:32 pm TWN
With higher gasoline prices and growing appetite for smaller cars, the U.S. auto giant last year newly added the Spark mini car to its Chevrolet global lineup.
The Spark, overcoming earlier skepticism among GM executives and dealers, sold 12,385 vehicles in the six months up to December. The researcher IHS Automotive forecasts the sales figure could reach some 27,000 this year.
“The (South) Korean design team has a special affection for the Spark as it is the first Chevy model to be designed and built in Korea. The positive start in the U.S. encourages us a lot,” said Ryu Ho-kwang, a senior designer at GM Korea.
When it comes to small-car models, design is considered especially critical as such vehicles have few other ways to differentiate themselves. And behind the Spark's unique styling is the design team at GM Korea.
When GM decided to roll out the smallest Chevy, its design centers globally, except the one in Korea, had no experience in building mini cars.
There are about 200 designers at the South Korean unit's design studio in Incheon. Aside from some leadership positions, most of the team is Korean.
Even though the Chevrolet Spark shared its chassis with the Matiz city car that was being produced in Korea, designing the unprecedented Chevy model was a totally different issue for the South Korean team.
“Our top priority, among other things, was succeeding the identity of the Chevrolet brand,” said Ryu, who joined then-Daewoo Motor in 1992 and took part in designing the nation's first city car, the Tico, whose huge popularity helped it become known as the “people's car.”