For the development of the new Chevrolet Spark the design team at the General Motors global vehicle development centre for small cars, based in Incheon, Korea, was tasked with producing a vehicle that would offer best-in-segment standards in quality, performance and safety.

Based on General Motors’ global urban-vehicle architecture, the new Spark was developed over an intense 27 month period at a cost of US $240 million (R1,8 billion). As a true global offering from GM, the new Spark is destined for sale in over 150 markets around the world.

During the development programme for this entirely new model, the Spark design and engineering team made extensive use of General Motors’ Virtual Vehicle Assessment Process, a powerful development tool. This advanced virtual system analyses the entire manufacturing process of a new GM vehicle through a process of numerous computer simulations to identify possible defects, in advance of the move from the design stage into production.

To support the objective of meeting the highest quality and performance expectations of a sophisticated customer base the Spark was exposed to a range of static and dynamic tests at its home base and in a number of its target markets. In this global test programme development, prototypes of the new GM city-car covered more than one million kilometres in intensive durability tests, extreme weather tests, and a full range of safety tests.

With the objective of exceeding customer expectations from day one the Spark design team exposed early production samples of the new Spark to the critical eye of a group of potential customers. During this quality clinic participants were asked to evaluate some 200 items that impact on customers’ initial quality perception. Members of the engineering team noted the feedback from the group to ensure that niggling quality issues would be resolved prior to the general release of the vehicle.

Prior to this consumer quality clinic GM selected a group of employees to put the new Spark through its paces in a real world driving experience. Fifty examples of the new vehicle were allocated to employees to use in their every day vehicle usage over a period of 90 days and offer their suggestions for quality improvements. Both the employee and customer evaluations provided valuable insight into the initial quality perceptions of the new Spark as it came off the production line.

Throughout the development process of this exciting new small vehicle from Chevrolet, the focus has been on adopting a customer perspective and achieving new standards in terms of vehicle quality in the segment. The objective is not only to meet the highest initial quality expectations but also to ensure an ongoing pleasurable motoring experience through exceptional durability and reliability.