Chevy Spark

Conventional wisdom would dictate that Chevrolet sales in Europe should accelerate as more and more buyers battered by the continent's sour economy look to save money by choosing small, inexpensive cars over larger, more expensive options. After all, Chevrolet is positioned as General Motors' value brand, and it offers a number of affordable vehicles in popular inexpensive segments. Globally, Chevy sales are up four percent so far this year.

All of this is why Chevy's declining sales in Europe come as a something of a mystery. According to Automotive News, sales of the Spark and Matiz twins have fallen 37 percent to 12,245 units through April of 2013. The Aveo (now sold in North America under the Sonic nameplate) posted similar declines, falling 44 percent to 10,235 units. Other budget brands like Dacia and Kia have registered significant gains over the same period.

So, why the sales funk? Industry analysts cited by AN point a finger at Chevy's aging designs and their comparatively high fuel consumption – Chevy's average carbon emissions (which can determine taxation rates) put it in 18th place in Europe out of 20 total automakers. Further problems arise when you consider that some of Chevy's popular models can also be found in Opel and Vauxhall dealerships, albeit with revisions designed to give Opel "a distinctive brand positioning" to "aim at different customers," says GM.

Clearly, Chevy's offering and market position aren't working as well as GM would like, and analysts aren't predicting any significant improvement until 2016, when some of its aging models are slated to be replaced.