Special Coverage

Auto Show

General Motors Corp. plans to unveil at the Geneva Auto Show next month the production-intent version of its ’10 Chevrolet Spark minicar, shown in concept form at the 2009 North American International Auto Show last month.

The Spark’s design is nearly identical to the Chevy Beat concept, first shown in 2007 at the New York International Auto Show. Visitors to a special GM website voted it as the best-looking of three proposed global minicar concepts.

GM hopes the 5-door Spark will help solidify its position in emerging markets; update its portfolio in Europe; and answer growing consumer demands in the U.S. for smaller, more fuel-efficient passenger cars.

GM has said it wants to shift its U.S. product mix from 50/50 cars and trucks to 60% cars in the next three years.

The Spark arrives at European dealerships in early 2010, followed by Korea, India and other regions. It hits the U.S. in 2011. Ward’s reported last year production of the Spark would begin at GM Daewoo Auto and Technology Co.’s Changwon complex.

At its introduction in Europe, the Spark will receive two 4-cyl., 16-valve dual-overhead-cam gasoline engines in 1.0L and 1.2L displacements. GM does not specify a powerplant for the U.S., but at the Detroit show promised combined fuel economy of 40 mpg (5.8 L/100 km). Safety items will vary by region, GM says,

The Spark’s exterior design breaks from typical minicars with its “youthful, fun and fashion-conscious” styling, the auto maker says. It features a “wedge-like” design with “crisp lines” and headlamps below Chevy’s trademark 2-tier grille resembling “diamond cut lines.”

The Spark’s 15-in. wheels are pushed to the extreme corners of the vehicle for an athletic stance. GM integrates rear-door handles into the upper portion of the doors to preserve a clean look and impart a coupe-like look.

The vehicle measures 143 ins. (364 cm) in overall length and rides on a 94-in. (238 cm) wheelbase, providing what GM considers “a spacious cabin with outstanding leg and hip room” in every seating position.

GM calls the interior equally fun and fashionable, adding notable elements such as a motorcycle-inspired instrument cluster mounted on the steering column and fresh colors and fabrics.