It won’t be called the Holden Barina Spark anymore, but the 2016 Holden Spark micro car could shake things up at the entry point to the Lion brand’s range.
The all-new Spark – which was revealed at the Seoul and New York auto shows in April, and is sold in most markets as a Chevrolet – is quite a different beast to the car it replaces. It has a longer wheelbase, but its height has been reduced by about 40 millimetres. The brand claims it is now more aerodynamic, but still roomy, and that its new “more robust architecture … enabled engineers to tune ride and handling more precisely”.
Holden executive director of sales, Peter Keley, told CarAdvice at the launch of the brand’s new Astra and Cascada models that despite the new, fourth-generation Spark taking a big step forward in its class, it is not expected to sell in huge numbers when it arrives in the first quarter of 2016.
However, Keley suggested that he’s personally excited to see the new-generation model – which debuts a new platform and new drivetrains, and has been developed with the help of Holden’s engineering boffins in Australia – in local showrooms.
“I feel very strongly about that car. I love that car, and I drive a V8 all the time,” Keley said.
“Will it change the fortunes of Holden overnight? No, it won’t do that. At the moment it’s one of our smallest selling products,” he said of the current Barina Spark, which – he’s right – has performed pretty poorly in recent times.
So far in 2015 the Barina Spark has sold only 344 units – enough for 12.0 per cent market share of the Micro car segment which is dominated by the Mitsubishi Mirage. In 2014 just 1257 Barina Sparks were sold.
Being that the car isn’t particularly new – it launched here in 2010 – and it has a strong history of being offered at discount prices, Keley knows that positioning the new model correctly will be crucial to its success, but he also made a point that the brand needs to be realistic.
“Our job is to read the market and at the end of the day if you take the Japanese yen out of it, there’s plenty of upward pressure on pricing. Korean, US, Thai pricing – it’s all pressured to go up a bit.
“So again you produce a quality product and you provide good value for money around it, and I think there’s plenty of upside in Spark,” he said.
“Will we be selling more than we do currently? Yes, we will,” he asserted. “At the end of the day it’s an important entry in to the Holden brand, and will it reflect Holden brand values – absolutely it will.”