By on January 19, 2009

While perusing the comments on the capsule SRT8 review, our own Karesh’s stood out, Specifically this part, “During media days at NAIAS I told every manufacturer who cared to listen (and a few who did not) that the largest unfilled hole in the market is a 3,000-pound RWD compact sedan with a base price in the mid-twenties.”There’s been talk for a while now about the joint Subaru-Toyota RWD Coupe (basically an AE86 replacement) that would sell for around $21,000 and have the drift kids pooping their pants with excitement. Sadly for them (and Hanes), it’s looking more and more like Toyota will be shelving that particular cheapie coupe until at least 2012, if not scrapping it altogether. So that particular hole in the market remains. Especially as the BMW 1-series is a joke in base trim and the twin-turbo edition is over $40,000. So yeah, I agree with Michael that right now a cheap, rear-driver coupe is the market’s gaping hole. You?

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107 Comments on “Question Of The Day: What Is The Biggest Unfulfilled Hole In The Market?...”


  • avatar
    Zarba

    1) RWD 4-cyl high-rpm coupe. WITHOUT forced induction.

    2) RWD midsize sedan in the mid 20′s.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Your mom, obviously.

    I kill me. Seriously though, I definitely agree with the $20-30k RWD coupe verdict. Also, station wagons of all kinds, particularly midsized (death to the CUV!). Small MPVs in the Mazda5 or Opel Zafira/Meriva mold also make the grade for me. Compact cars with any kind of character (aka Impreza competition). And stylish superminis (Fiat 500).

  • avatar
    powerglide

    For decades, the rest of the world has enjoyed (?) small efficient front drive vans based on subcompact cars: Renault Kangoo, Opel Combo, etc.

    In this vein, Ford is supposed to bring to the US the Ford Transit Connect this summer, running the already EPA-approved Focus 2.0L four and automatic.

    A proper eurpean diesel would be nice, but not when gasoline is a dollar cheaper per gallon…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The niche that has yet to be filled has yet to be invented. I’m not sure what it will be, but like the pony car and minivan, the vehicle class will have to be invented.

    I do know that the market doesn’t care all that much about RWD, and it definitely doesn’t want manual transmissions. I happen to like both, but if people were that interested in these things, we would already be surrounded by them. Most car buyers probably don’t even know whether their car is FWD or not.

  • avatar

    Are we talking about the US market? If so the answer is easy:

    CARS with Diesel engines.

    Trucks aplenty, but you can count the cars on one hand and have the majority of your fingers left over.

    If we had Diesels available like they have in the EU we would have the opportunity to drive mid-sized and even large sedans that would beat GM’s current MPG champ with ease. We could have subcompacts that saw 70 MPG.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    JG

    Back in the day (2005), my roommate and I would philosophize about the production of a modern day 1978 280Z (He had one, shaved/ported head/cam/exhaust.. beautiful machine, but it never ran.) So, a new, 2800lb, 2 spot RWD coupe, and this time with a hot ~2.0L 4 cylinder, at a price the average joe could afford. Having it look like the old Nissan wouldn’t hurt either.

    Then I said something about the Miata already existing, and he said he was too tall, and that was that.

  • avatar
    sjd

    I agree 100%. Cheap, fun and RWD. Now, I have all of those with my 2006 MX-5 (and 30mpg too)but while I do drive it all winter it is our second car. I really think Mazda nailed it with the Kabura. It’s a shame it never saw production.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The vast majority of the market doesn’t care about great driving RWD cars. For the rest there are BMWs, and a few Infinitis. Can’t afford a new one? Buy a 2-5 year old off-lease car.

    To me the biggest gaping real hole in the US market is small commercial vehicles. Ranger-sized and smaller pickup trucks and micro-vans for farmers and tradespeople to get their work done at the lowest possible operating cost.

    Heck, Nebraskan farmers are taking matters into their own hands by importing used Japanese Kei class minitrucks:

    http://www.franklinmotorsports.net/index.php?p=1_7

    When a need is high enough for grey market importers to start serving it, and succeeding, something is afoot.

    The other category I would love to see come back is wagon and hatchback versions of small and midsized cars. They are much more useful than a four door sedan or a coupe, yet drive pretty much like their sedan/coupe counterparts. So far my fellow countrymen and women don’t seem to agree. But, the hatchback is sneaking back in as the Prius, Fit, etc.

  • avatar
    Point Given

    Small truck, think 1/4 ton, or 1/3 ton market.

    Small, 4 cyl, 4 sheets of plywood. A truck for a guy who works in an office during the week but putters about with yard work during the weekend, or occasional handyman project. The old toyota pickup from the 80′s kinda size. Yes, I know why not….crash test standards and blah blah blah.

    I was told a few years back that the small truck market is only 8% of the truck market, but I have a feeling that has more to do with lack of good products available rather than lack of desire.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    I think the biggest hole in the market right now is for an honest-to-goodness compact pick-up truck.

    When you look at the market, there’s nothing like a ’86 HiLux out there, nothing. The Tacoma has turned into a bloated machine where the actual utility of the widget has taken a literal backseat to having, well, backseats. The Ranger is ancient. GM has the typical fratricide going on with the Colorado/S-10 juxtaposition, and neither one of those vehicles are exceptional. Nissan’s Frontier is like the Tacoma.

    There’s a good business out there for a small, real, pickup truck that’s built tough and simple.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    The BMW 1 series’ problems are (to me) that they aren’t light enough, have too much luxury and electronics, and are very expensive. Bring back the E36 or even E46 but with the 3.0 turbo engine. Plus, make the top gear have a higher ratio for more relaxed highway cruising.

  • avatar
    Blue387

    In addition to RWD, I would personally add a competitive compact/subcompact from Chrysler and GM.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Pch101:

    The question isn’t what will sell better than a Camry, it is “What Is The Biggest Unfulfilled Hole In The Market?”

    Do you think there is a car type, that is not currently on the market, that would sell better than a “3,000-pound RWD compact sedan with a base price in the mid-twenties.”

    I don’t.

    Sure, the market for small RWD manual transmission sedans is smaller than the market for small FWD automatic sedans.

    On the other hand, there are a lot more good condition used Camrys on the market than there are good condition used Datsun 510s.

    If the automakers want to get people into something new then they might have to offer something new.

    If Mazda gave up on the rotary and put the Miata drivetrain into the RX-8 they could get very good sales numbers, unfortunately they are too dogmatic about the wankel.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    Edward Niedermeyer wrote:
    station wagons of all kinds [...] (death to the CUV!)

    Ditto.

    powerglide wrote:
    For decades, the rest of the world has enjoyed (?) small efficient front drive vans based on subcompact cars: Renault Kangoo [...]

    Ditto.

    Also, Buick Roadmaster Station Wagon Country Squire.

    Those three above.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    A small compact 4 cylinder diesel pickup. That sells for about $9000.

    A smallish rwd 4 cylinder sporty car. Light. Say, a 70s 260z. That costs around $17000, tops.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Small MPVs in the Mazda5 or Opel Zafira/Meriva mold also make the grade for me

    Oh, yes. People will still need cars, and the current crop of automotive multivitamins consists of the Mazda5 and Kia Rondo. Mazda and Kia dealers aren’t exactly plentiful, and neither brand has the visibility of Honda, Toyota, or the domestics.A Zafira, Focus C-Max or Honda Stream would probably do well.

    Of course, it’d also make the Traverse, Edge/Flex and Pilot/Oddy/CR-V really hard to sell, which is why they don’t do it. None of the big makes are willing to undercut the margin-queen crossovers with more practical MPVs.

    That said, I have (faint) hopes for a three-row Ford Transit.

    Another few categories:
    * The aforementioned Ford Transit. After three of the worst-timed intros in history (Flex: just before the gas price spike; MKS & MKT: just before the collapse of the economy) Ford finally times one right. If they don’t gouge, the Transit has the potential to be huge, getting the sales they lost when they killed the Focus wagon, and minivan/crossover buyers who can’t swing an Edge or Flex, and business owners who can’t or don’t need an E- or F-Series.

    * Hybrid seven-passenger vehicles that aren’t BoF SUVs. A hybrid Sienna (or the JDM Estima) would probably do reasonably well, or at least would have before the market collapsed.

    * Both a premium and bare-bones hybrid. Lexus has a good thing going in their rebadged Prius—in concept—but the need to make it not look like a Corolla. A hybrid that more people could afford would be a nice touch, too. The Insight is a step in the right direction, as was the Malibu before GM got cocky and priced it into oblivion

    * A truly cheap compact pickup that isn’t a deathtrap like the Ranger. See the Transit above, but chop the back off it.

    * A Smart car that costs half what the current car does. I like the Smart, but I don’t like the Smart enough to walk past the lower-priced Yaris and Fit.

  • avatar

    Fun, affordable “hot hatches” that boomed in the 80s. An updated CRX would do nicely.

    I’d like to see some affordable micro cars as well. Safety regulations basically ensure it won’t happen.

  • avatar
    Lynchenstein

    @ John Horner:

    Around where I live you can buy an imported Japanese Kei truck and drive it on the road. In fact, here in Victoria BC I see more and more Kei-class trucks, minivans, and even a Honda Beat occasionally. They are all right-hand drive (which I think is illegal in the US?) but around here they’re the perfect city vehicle – just what they were designed for!

    But, since they’re used and required to be 15-years old by law IIRC, they don’t have to meet NA crash standards. Still, they are very popular and reasonably affordable, and most of them have low numbers on the odometer. The local guy (MiniTruck.ca) even stocks common maintenance parts.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Are the crash standards really such a big deal for trucks while not a big deal for compact hatches?

    Would a light truck that could fill the role of the old jeep and light pickups be too “nichey”?

    How about we give it a diesel option?

    They sold every diesel liberty they could make. What we really need is something filled by the Hilux and variants for the rest of the world. A base truck with 4 cylinders and two seats that can be optioned up to four seats, 6 cylinders, and 4wd.

  • avatar
    AKM

    I do know that the market doesn’t care all that much about RWD, and it definitely doesn’t want manual transmissions. I happen to like both, but if people were that interested in these things, we would already be surrounded by them. Most car buyers probably don’t even know whether their car is FWD or not.

    unfortunately, true. My ex-boss thought his G35 was the first Infiniti to have FWD. A colleague bought a BMW 325xi because “people want FWD now”.

    I wish the 1-series 5-door had made it to the U.S., with some of the wonderful 4-cyl engines, including diesel. It’d be a really nice car, instead of the sororstitute, overpriced 1-series.

    That said, psarhjinian really nailed it. Those are the real potential new market winners, if Americans finally start to look at their vehicles objectively (as if…).

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Lynchenstein:

    There is nothing illegal about right-hand-drive in the US, but exemption from safety and emissions regulations requires the imported car to be 25 years old or more.

    I wish we had the 15 year rule like Canada because it would allow for prime kei cars like the Cappuccino, Beat and Autozam AZ-1.

    In the US we have recently become able to legally import the Suzuki MightyBoy kei, so that is something.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    It might not be the biggest unfilled hole, but why isn’t there a performance car under $100k that performs well in all areas? The Vette comes close, but even though it’s only 3200lbs, it doesn’t feel that ‘tossable’, and the steering is numb. The Boxster/Cayman are on the opposite end, tossable, but (relatively) underpowered. The 911 is ugly and expensive for the power. The Viper is a little too much of a brute (although a brute I would love to own). The GT-R weighs close to 400lbs, doesn’t have the lean looks of a sportscar, and drives like an appliance (apparently). It seems like you have to pay nearly $200,000 for an F430 or Gallardo to get a car that looks good, has supercar-level power, is tossable, and has razor-sharp steering. Those attributes shouldn’t have to cost that much. Is a car with Boxster-level handling, Corvette power and Viper looks too much to ask for under $60,000?

  • avatar
    jmo

    I would love to buy a 4cyl vvt-i toyota version of the Lexus IS.

  • avatar
    dilbert

    There are a few under served segments, but relatively, they are small slices of the overall (12M? 10.5M?) pie. I think what this industry needs is to do like electronics, and keep selling older version of cars for a few years after the new version has been introduced. Sell these at 10 to 20% cheaper than when that model was new.

    This maximizes initial investment in design and tooling costs, since it would push more units out the door over a longer period of time. This would give manufacturers more flexibility in how they use their resources during the redesign and retooling phase, and allows a gradual ramp up of brand new production.

    It gives consumers more choice, more people can buy a brand new car at a now lower price, while those more able or willing can have their latest and greatest.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    A CHEAP, 4 cylinder two-door, 2 or 4 wheel drive pickup truck. With 30 MPG (2wd) and don’t forget CHEAP, CHEAP CHEAP !

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    Gotta go with the majority and say RWD sedan. jmo is right on — a decontented IS250 in Toyota-trim for $24K would fit the bill quite nicely.

    Past that:
    -More station wagons
    -More Mazda5-sized options
    -A TRULY compact truck. A Ranger-sized pickup would work well these days. Sure, gas is cheap, but contractors want and could use a cheap truck. The rest of the buying public could too.

  • avatar

    A RWD alternative to most everything on the market. Most notably, that D3-shaped crater on Ford’s books.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    The RX-8 is under 3000lbs (depending on trim), has RWD and, according to my registration and insurance cards, is technically a sedan as it has 4 doors.

    As for a hole in the market, I would love a diesel for towing my race car, but why do I need to pay for an F250/Chev 2500 or above and get a monster with eleventy billion torques and a tow rating of 16,000lbs?

    Get a small(ish) diesel into a half-ton sized chassis that can tow 9000lbs all day and get good mileage while it’s doing it.
    (Would be nice if they offered in both the pickup and SUV chassis) as I prefer the SUV as a tow vehicle. More room for the dog, has secure and weather proof storage and in a pinch you can fold the seats in the back and camp in it.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    The small euro-style work vehicles.

    Ford is (FINALLY) bringing the Transit Connect, but apart from that, the only thing was the Element.

    And I agree with the others, we need a good SMALL pickup. For that, probably a “Mini Ridgeline” design might be the best: A cab forward FWD/AWD with a unit-body on frame design: short front, 2 seats, long bed.

  • avatar
    Kman

    Yes of course, an affordable RWD sporty sedan would be great.

    … for the B&B here.

    Taking it more broadly into the automotive marketplace, I find it curious that the following niche remains unfulfilled:

    An AWD option on the mid-sized family sedan, Ford Fusion AWD notwithstanding.

    All the big players lack it: Altima, Accord, Camry, Mazda6, Passat (the $45K 3.6 4Motion prices itself out of contention).

    I guess it goes to the same reason mentioned above about the lack of Mazda5/Kia Rondo-type of vehicles: don’t want to steal sales from the profit-rich CUV/SUV space.

    Now, adding *my* personal preference to an unfulfilled market niche:

    AWD sports wagons! With and without Diesel engines. Oh, and properly priced! [For e.g.: BMW\'s desirable 3-series Touring comes only in 328i guise. Optioned like a 328i, meaning you add a couple of options to bring it to 335i standard, and suddenly it\'s priced *above* the 335i sedan. I cant\'t walk past a 335i, as much as I love wagons. Similar examples can be built with other wagons such as a Volvo V50 T5 AWD, etc..]

  • avatar
    NickR

    Something in the sub-compact class that isn’t a penalty box and doesn’t look wierd. The Nissan Cherry concept looked good. Something cheerful, and makes up for lack of raw power by being nimble. A colourful palette of colours would be nice.

    A small, cheap 4 wheel drive vehicle with good ground clearance. A small wrangler, 4 cylinder only.

  • avatar

    An affordable RWD sporty sedan… that has a stick, equipped the way I want it equipped. I shouldn’t have to buy the car absolutely denuded of options, or completely loaded, to get a stick, and it seems the very few cars in this category that come with one insist on providing it at one extreme or the other.

    I could wait for the factory to make it. I just want it available.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    The cheap light coupe has been filled by the Miata, Soulstice/Sky twins, RX8. The 350Z used to live here, too. Coupes go out of fashion quickly compared to other segments, which is why few cars tend to occupy this space. I would probably lean on a stout

    dilbert :
    January 19th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    There are a few under served segments, but relatively, they are small slices of the overall (12M? 10.5M?) pie. I think what this industry needs is to do like electronics, and keep selling older version of cars for a few years after the new version has been introduced. Sell these at 10 to 20% cheaper than when that model was new.

    For a while, some of the Korean cars used older Mazda and Mitsubishi platforms and engines with their own styling on top. Car companies often do this in other countries as well. VW still makes the “quantum” Passat (last seen here in 1978) and the MK2 Jetta in China and the MK4 Bora (our MK4 jetta) there.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    A modern Volvo 240 wagon. The closest out there now is a Subaru Outback wagon, but it is way too expensive. If Subaru would use a simple 4, rear wheel drive, a stick shift, crank windows, basic interior and bulletproof durability for $16000, they would sell a bundle of them. Then, make a 4wd version, allow options for interior upgrades and power equipment and make it easy to get in and out and you have the new magnet for aging baby boomers, a huge demographic.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    There are no big holes in the market. There are lots of small niches that could be served.

    A few that come to mind:

    An electric car from a major OEM with 4 real seats and 60+ miles of real world range has potential.

    A Tesla like EV sports car from a Toyondissan that that was fun to drive south of $30k. Think Think MR2 or S2000.

    Mahindra has been making noises about entering the US market with a true compact truck with a 2.2L diesel. Their claims of 30pmg highway and 2600lb payload seem realistic.

    One size class above Ford will be bringing their 4.4L Powerstroke F150 to market in the next few years as well.

    The Freightliner/Dodge Sprinter diesel cargo blows away the competition (Savanna and E-series) on mileage.

    The off-road specialist class is owned by the Wrangler JK. Toyota sorta tried to compete with the FJ cruiser but it was on the expensive side and lacks a removable top. The 1970s Bronco or Land Cruiser could be revived. Ford or Toyota could shorten their light truck platforms and offer them as a no frills off road specialist.

  • avatar
    ca36gtp

    Completely agree. The closest thing out there is the RX-8, and there’s simply too many niggling little drawbacks to a rotary powertrain for it to ever be mainstream.

    A 2,800LB rwd 4-door (yes, 4-door) with a 3.0-3.2L DI V6 producing 240-270HP would be a godsend to the enthusiast community.

    In fact, it should be what GM is making to keep Pontiac alive, but we all know that won’t happen.

  • avatar
    honfatboy

    Psarhjinian is a genius, if only because I agree with him. Maybe we should work for a car company for $1 (by $1 I mean $1 plus benefits and expenses and by car company I mean not Chrysler).

  • avatar

    2 candidates:
    1) eco-friendly macho (eco-macho?) category. i.e. hybrid hummer h3, wrangler, Toyota FJ
    2) cool, large family wagons w/o SUV stigma

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I gotta agree with Mr. Karesh, what the world needs more than anything else at this very moment is a sub 3K lb, $20K, rwd coupe with a longitudinally mounted I4, actual back seats, and preferrably a hatch.

    Also, I’m with Kman. We need a 335i Touring Sport! I’ll take mine sans the AWD and for roughly the same price a sedan, though, please.

  • avatar
    carguy

    There is definitely a gap in the commercial vehicle offering both in small and medium size unibody vans as well as trucks designed for work in urban and suburban environments as opposed overcompensation for low self esteem. A truck with a low bed for easy loading, a separate unpainted aluminum bed where the sides can be lowered as well as the tail gate. Preferably powered by a ~3 liter diesel engine. This sort of thing:
    http://www.productreview.com.au/itemimage/100076

    The same for the delivery vans – there is too much body on frame with thirsty engines. Many businesses just need an economical way to deliver goods so something with a 4cy or 6cy diesel would be perfect.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    I agree that the inexpensive 4cyl RWD coupe, esp. a 4 seat convert option (Dear Honda, cut some $$$ out of the S2000 platform and stretch it, 200 hp 1.8L fine with me).

    Stream and C-max type cars are good in my book also. I have a ’95 Oddity and wish there was a better replacement on the market.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Sadly, realistically, I know powerglide is right. The biggest hole in the market is the small workvan, which Ford is going to cash in on big time with the Transit Connect.

  • avatar
    George B

    Point Given :
    January 19th, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Small truck, think 1/4 ton, or 1/3 ton market.

    Small, 4 cyl, 4 sheets of plywood. A truck for a guy who works in an office during the week but putters about with yard work during the weekend, or occasional handyman project…

    I agree. The beauty of DIYer small truck is the potential to sell an additional vehicle to a household that already has enough cars. I would love to have a weekend vehicle that’s just big enough to haul 4 ft x 8 ft sheets of plywood, but small enough to leave room in the garage for the lawnmower and tools. Full size pickups are too big and the remaining compact trucks don’t handle the 4 ft x 8 ft sheet building material well.

    I would also like the general concept of a vehicle that is sold in a basic form with many reasonably priced accessories available to buy at a later date. Auto manufacturers could keep customers coming back to the dealership frequently with good pricing on upgrade parts specific to their brand.

  • avatar
    hoax

    Now that the joint venture performance coupe between Subaru and Toyota is called off for the moment, maybe Subaru could sell a RWD version of the base Impreza. That would kick ass.

  • avatar
    threeer

    + one million on a true, light-duty small pickup. The Taco lost it’s way a few iterations ago, as did all of the other “small” pickups. That Ford let the Ranger languish is a true crime…

  • avatar
    wsn

    If a big “hole” implies a great consumer demand not being meet, then it cannot be RWD, or 2-door. There won’t be enough consumer demand.

    For those who suggested RWD stick coupes, I really don’t see anyone can make a car that can out-shine the Miata, or the RX-8, or the Impreza.

    To qualify for the “hole”, it must be automatic/CVT, cheap, and practical. Maybe something similar to the Honda Fit, but a bit smaller and cheaper.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Sign me up for a small tow vehicle too. Something between the size of a Ranger and the current Dakota but with enough torque (turbo + diesel maybe).

    A true hot hatch. A rear wheel drive version of Volvo C30 basically but more affordable. A car like this should only cost $20K.

  • avatar

    Miata power-retracting hard top?

    ~$24,000, hard top coupe, 2500 lbs

    RX-8?
    Literally $20,000 after incentives, 3000 lbs.

    There’s no hole – there’s no COMPETITION – Mazda pwns this market.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    +1 For the compact pickup.

    FWD is OK for me on this vehicle, which would keep cost, weight and development time down. I think we won’t see it because everyone figures it would cannibalize sales of their existing “small” (Colorado/Ranger/Tacoma) pickups. They’re probably right… certainly the most of the Tacomas that CarQuest and RoadRunner operate could be replaced by such a vehicle.

    With “lifestyle” accessories (racks, well-integrated caps and suchlike), it could be attractively packaged for a variety of potential buyers.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Ironically, a vehicle pretty close already exists. It’s the Dodge Charger Police Package that was reviewed right here on TTAC a little while ago. While it’s certainly over the weight/size target, a $25k, new Hemi Charger fills the bill in most other aspects. The only problem is that it’s not available to the general public.

    The real question is whether that same market still exists today for more than a few remaining, aged motorheads that still long for a reincarnation of the strippo, taxicab trim-level 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner.

    It’s too bad Chrysler didn’t stay true to the heritage of the original, basic sixties’ Super Bee/Roadrunner and just slapped some high-impact colors and (more subtle) tape stripes on a stripped police Charger. It would have been interesting to see how well it would have sold instead of the loaded, $40k+ ‘limited edition’ versions of the SRT-8 that have been languishing on dealer lots, in some cases for years. I guess instead of going for the volume profit of getting more of the newer, younger buyers, their logic was that nostalgia would make the much better off geezers cough up for a way more expensive version Super Bee.

  • avatar
    lowinor

    Mid-engined roadster under $30k.

  • avatar
    jmo

    wsn,

    I don’t know how much of a market there is for cars costing less than 10k. You can get a Nissan Versa for 9,990 new, but I don’t think they are flying off the lot.

    With cars being so much more duarable than they used to be, I don’t think people are really interested in spending 10-15 years in a penalty box. In addition, when you get down that cheap you are also competing with any number of good quality used cars.

    In reality, a new 9,990 Versa is a better bet finacially than a 5 year old Camry – but few people are really going to make that choice.

  • avatar
    rkeep820

    Wah wah cry me a wahmubulance that not everyone can afford the beast that is an N54 in 1 or 3 series trim. Get a better job or invest on the short side of the market and you’ll be able to get a used one for 20k in 5 years.

    What’s next, Porsche stinks cuz they have too much performance? LOL

  • avatar
    Robstar

    How about an AWD american manufacturer rally-style car that compete well with the STi/Evo for $30′ish?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    rkeep820 :

    Wah wah cry me a wahmubulance that not everyone can afford the beast that is an N54 in 1 or 3 series trim. Get a better job or invest on the short side of the market and you’ll be able to get a used one for 20k in 5 years.

    What’s next, Porsche stinks cuz they have too much performance? LOL

    This is cutting analysis.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    What’s missing – simply – is a Legacy Spec. B Wagon!

  • avatar
    shiney2

    Clearly the big hole is the compact pickup/van segment. Its a proven market given the huge number sold in the 70s/80s, but now the smallest truck on the market, the ranger, is a midsize that’s 15 years out of date.

    My second choice would be a truly small light RWD sport sedan&coupe. A real spiritual successor to the BMW 2002, with a high quality chassis and simple maintenance and space efficient design. Even something like the 91-94 Sentra SE-R is currently lacking. The closest thing on the market might be the FIT, which is FWD van thing but at least captures the right fun/function combination. Everything is either oversized/overpriced/unsophisticated in behavior etc.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    BTW – The Miata driveline & chassis used in a simple sedan might do the trick.

  • avatar
    CommanderFish

    I want liftbacks.

    Look of a sedan/coupe, functionality of a hatchback!

    The only option I can even think of for buying a recent liftback is a used Mazda6 5-door. That still is a nice car, but now nobody sells liftbacks new in the US.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    Is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is too heavy? What about a Miata, Crossfire, or Solstice?

    But really, car-makers are in the business of making cars and making money (well, at least they’re supposed to be). You might as well say that there is a big hole in the market is for 7 passenger SUVs for $20K. If it’s not profitable to operate in a market segment, then it really isn’t a hole. I can’t buy wool slacks for $5 at Wal-Mart either, but that’s not something that will be remedied soon.

    RWD inherently costs more to produce than FWD, and the volume for RWD is poor in sales regions with poor weather conditions. I don’t care if you know an uncle of a pizza delivery guy’s girlfriend with a 240SX in the heart of Colorado. I’m talking about generalities where lightweight RWD isn’t a good seller in large parts of the USA.

    Premium/sporty RWD above $20K (like BMW and Mercedes) works because the high margins make up for the volume. Budget RWD doesn’t work because budget cars need to be high volume. If a large number of buyers are presented with an Accord or your theoretical RWD car, they’ll opt for the Accord because it’s more pragmatic.

  • avatar
    jmo

    So, I looked up the numbers on a BMW 2002. In 1975 they were priced between 5500 and 8500 depending on options. Adjusting for inflation that’s 20,900 to 32,100. I think there would be a large market for a 4cyl RWD sedan at those price points.

    I have an engineering question as well. For FWD drive cars that have AWD as an option – think Audi A4/GTI/Fusion/Taurus, what is to stop the manufacturer from offering FWD/AWD/RWD as options? I’d have to think there is a reason you can’t but I’d like to know what it is.

  • avatar
    italianstallion

    on the heels of some previous comments:

    more 2wd mid-sized 5-passenger traditional wagons based on proven sedans (preferably Japanese, 25-30 mpg, a little sporty with a manual option, base and premium trims)

    MPVs – more and better choices in the spirit of the Mazda5/Kia Rondo (5, 6 and 7 passenger varieties – not everyone has to pick-up the kids at soccer practice)

    a safe, 4-cylinder true compact pick-up (Toyota Hilux)

    a true premium sporty compact hatch or 5-door (think Japanese competition for the A3 and C30, i.e. a Mazda3 hatch made by Acura or Lexus)

  • avatar
    charleywhiskey

    Suppose your baseline is a four door Honda Civic which weighs in at 2630 pounds. Turn the engine 90 degrees, add a drive shaft, a separate differential case, and tougher rear suspension. Could you do that for 370 additional pounds? Probably, but that would mean quite a bit more work for the little 140 horsepower engine. Say you could do those changes for only 200 additional pounds and put the remaining 170 pounds into a larger engine such as the 190 horsepower four cylinder engine from the Accord. Sounds like a pleasant car, but with only 160 lb-ft of torque would you really notice a difference in handling?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    A mini minivan. The original Plymouth Voyager Dodge Caravan was a good deal smaller than the the current generation — Sienna/Odyssey/Town&Country — which are about two feet too long and eight inches too wide. The Gen 1 Voyager ran adequately on a 4 cyl. engine.

    The Mazda 5 is cute, but too small. 20 years ago, we could put 3 kids and all of our stuff in the Voyager and drive 600 miles to the beach for a summer vacation. you could not do that in a Mazda 5.

  • avatar
    dubtee1480

    If Nissan sold the Silvia/180SX/240SX over here, I would be sold. After my 93 bit the dust I couldn’t find one w/ a 5 speed that wasn’t either riced out or priced to oblivion b/c of demand by drifter wannabes.
    As far as the trucks go, I could see a lot of people going for a smaller truck as a utility buy… I personally probably wouldn’t buy a micro-sized one for comfort issues, but there is a reason I’m overhauling my 1993 GMC Sonoma instead of buying a new truck: It’s smaller, economical and can haul anything I want to within reason (pulled a 01 Grand Cherokee halfway across Mississippi on a 8×16 trailer with no problems). And, Um, it’s paid for.

  • avatar
    golf4me

    I didn’t read all the comments, so I’m sure I’m repeating:

    1) Honest LIGHT DUTY pickup. With a diesel option and manual trans, rollup windows and a rubber floor. Even if it’s a FWD like the old Rabbit PU of 1980. You could make a delivery van on the platform too. Sell it to the gov’t too. Jeep should do it. Make it on the Wrangler platform, just lighten up the frame & axles a bit, use IRS frt susp from the Liberty, done.

    2) Small RWD cars. Sedan, Hatch/Coupe, Wagon. Doesn’t even have to be high HP, just fun & light. Think Datsun 510-ish. 9.0 sec 0-60 is plenty, under 20k base.

    3) Big Luxury Coupes. I want an El Dorado or MkVII – ish car for when I’m old and still want to impress the Cougars at the local wrinkle-bar.

    4) Affordable Mid-Engine 2 seater. A better MR2, if you will…VW’s is gonna be $40k. That’s not affordable. $25k, please. Mazda, are you listening? You did it with the Miata, time to move on to this project.

  • avatar
    wsn

    jmo said:

    I don’t know how much of a market there is for cars costing less than 10k. You can get a Nissan Versa for 9,990 new, but I don’t think they are flying off the lot.

    I live in Canada. I don’t know cars can be that cheap in the US. It’s at least CND$15k for a Versa here. If they are not flying off the lot, that means the price is still too high. Try $8000.

    With cars being so much more duarable than they used to be, I don’t think people are really interested in spending 10-15 years in a penalty box.

    People can pay up to CND$27k for a 4 year old penalty box cooper (happened to wife’s friend). So I don’t see why people won’t pay US$7000 for a new cooper sized 3-door or 5-door from Japan.

  • avatar
    jaje

    What I feel is missing the most:

    1) Small and affordable RWD sedans and wagons. Don’t load them to the gills with bells and whistles. Sensible options and it doesn’t have to be super luxurious.

    2) Midsize / compact pickup either based on car or truck platform. Again weight is the key here – make them lighter but strong so they can do 90% a full size pickup can but without the mpg penalty and difficulty in parking the big pigs. These again don’t have to be over laden with all the new options – have a base model that goes for $15k MSRP and has a torquey v6 or diesel v6 / v8. Sometime ago pickups large and small were actually used for working purposes the majority of the time.

  • avatar
    AGR

    The vehicle that is sold/leased with an “ownership package” which includes the vehicle, maintenance, wear and tear, guaranteed residual value,software updates, perhaps even insurance.

  • avatar
    Neb

    A car like the early/mid 90s E-Type Mercedes, RWD, with enough configurations to satisfy everybody in this thread, from a thrifty diesel for cabbies, a big V8 for the E55 crowd(and the police), to a wagon version, to a slightly bizarre looking pickup truck variant like the el Camino. AWD systems and several gas engines would be optionable.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    You can get a big luxury coupe, as long as it’s German. Of course, for me, it’s a sign that Cadillac and Lincoln have truly fallen.

    ANY Nissan RWD sport coupe will have be sold in the US, as well as other markets, in order to be profitable. The Japanese market by itself is no longer large enough.

  • avatar
    richmond

    mid size – full size family sedan/ station wagon (australian ford falcon)that can tow a trailer preferably RWD or AWD as an option to SUV buyers

  • avatar
    dwford

    Lynchenstein:

    We may not be able to use those Kei class trucks, but our government does. Went to San Francisco last month, and at the park near the Golden Gate Bridge there was a fleet of them with government plates on them.

  • avatar
    Oliver

    A modern day successor to the Datsun 510 would do quite nicely. If Infiniti would add one of the smaller versions of the VQ engine (VQ25?), it’d be close.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    NickR:

    Thats called a Fit.

  • avatar

    Pocket rocket, pocket limo.
    And no, this is not filled by the new MINI, which is a porker…weighing 1,050 kg (2,315 lb) rather than original Mini’s 650 kg (1,433 lb). Americans don’t know from small cars, but then they’re unAmerican

  • avatar
    bumpy

    Yeah, S16 Silvia, a (new) diesel Hilux or Hardbody, etc. How about the 2.0 CRDi Kia Soul I saw at the auto show the other week? Diesel frugality + Scion xB hypervolume.

  • avatar
    DearS

    The biggest hole on the market is Reliable vehicles that are fun to drive. People with a better perspective on cars.

    Anyhow I’d like to see cars reused. Like the E36 or older Mercedes. Affordable new old cars.

  • avatar
    willamettejd

    First, the “market hole” has to make business sense – I sense that small RWD coupes are not going to go flying out the doors….like it or not, I think Americans are starting to think in more practical terms w/respect to cars.

    - MORE WAGONS – The Outback, Passat Wagon, and Jetta Wagon are about the only out there which fit the bill. Funny, too, since hatchbacks have not sold well. As the owner of a 4-liter 2008 Outback, I just snicker as I drive by CUVs with less ground clearance, 20 mpg (I get about 32mpg on flat highway at 60mph), and less interior space (and the current model outback is no cavern…backseats are SMALL) – oh, and they paid $5 grand extra for AWD.

    - An American car company that makes reliable, spacious, and efficient cars! OK, so Ford basically fits that bill, but it can’t get over the loss of brand image (my uber-practical in-laws just wouldn’t step foot in any American car to test drive before they purchased their 09 Camry…just sad). Has there ever been a better time to start a new semi-independent truly American car company…like the Saturn of old that doesn’t make heaping piles of dog c*ap. If you formed it now, began the design process, stole the best engineers from Toyota, Ford, and Honda, google, and Apple, and built the cars on American soil, you’d have production cars ready to roll by the time this recession turned back into a booming economy.

  • avatar
    willamettejd

    AGR :
    January 19th, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    The vehicle that is sold/leased with an “ownership package” which includes the vehicle, maintenance, wear and tear, guaranteed residual value,software updates, perhaps even insurance.

    YES! What a great idea….you could definitely sell a 70K-100K mile “ownership package” that would cover EVERY CONCEIVABLE ownership cost except gas. Could charge $10K and my in-laws (and maybe even myself) would purchase it. Just roll the cost into the vehicle financing. Plus it would give salespeople more to sell, thus helping dealerships. The peace of mind knowing you will get at least $X for your car at 70K miles, and it will be maintained perfected the entire way, would be nabbed up quickly. Can’t believe that other car companies (ahem…American) aren’t at least following Hyundai’s lead and offering a 100K warranty….I’ve talked to DOZENS of people who suddenly became interested in Hyundais based on that alone.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Nicholas Weaver : Thats called a Fit.

    True enough…just wished it looked a little sportier (and had more colours). I know it sounds like I am being obsessive about colours, but to appeal to the youth market I think it’s a necessity. And most cars colour palettes are excruciately boring. Wow, red, big deal.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    “The vehicle that is sold/leased with an “ownership package” which includes the vehicle, maintenance, wear and tear, guaranteed residual value,software updates, perhaps even insurance.”
    Sure – Backed by Fannie/Freddy, folded into Ownership Package Securities and sold round the world.
    Works good.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I think the unfulfilled hole is proper and efficient traffic management.

    Listen, we have every size and shape of moped, motorcycle, car, truck, SUV, bus, monorail, subway, train, airplane, helicopter, space capsule/shuttle known to mankind! And we’ve got submarines, for those who prefer to slide along under the surface.

    But we have not even scratched the surface when it comes to managing car traffic. We have achieved some semblance of safety and efficiency in sailing, train, and plane traffic.

    But we’re a schizophrenic mess when it comes to road traffic management. First off, we let anybody with a heartbeat drive, with little to no qualification testing. That’s a huge mistake.

    Next, we KEEP letting those proven to be incompetent and even many known drunkards continue to drive!

    We’re not willing at all to properly time traffic lights, and we can’t bear to remove bad drivers from the roads. It’s an ongoing catastrophe, and THAT, my friends, is the black hole in transportation.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Zoom Zoom has a great answer.

    I would also add that the biggest ‘hole’ in North America is a free market. If cars were able to be imported into the United States without costly standards that have little to do with a car’s overall quality, you would have the free market acting on all our behalf.

    From where I can see, the untapped market really consists of all those vehicles that fall victim to our protectionist and bureaucratic policies. From Atoms, to Polos, to diesels, to Kei cars…. that’s where the problem lies.

  • avatar
    davey49

    A mid $20s RWD sedan might be possible if people would stop whining about interior materials.
    Especially if you want IRS
    Accept crappy plastic or no dice

    I’m sure I would think the 128i is fantastic. Of course I wouldn’t be trying an automatic convertible either.

    Steven Lang- yes, matching standards amongst the major car producing countries would be great.

    The Ranger might be ancient but it is what you all want. A compact pickup
    Of course if compact pickups were made by more companies, people would claim that they were cheap or say that it’s worth it to buy the full size.
    Hence, no compact pickups

    I vote for city cars.

    for all “penalty box” commenters- money has to be saved somewhere, plus the owners of “penalty boxes” don’t usually complain about their own cars.

    NickR-Opel Corsa

  • avatar
    flomulgator

    Some great suggestions, but everyone is thinking of old cars (except the guy with the minivan comment). What about something completely different?

    Here’s my shot in the dark. FWD compact pickup. Straight vertical cab keeps it very short, city worthy, and all the weight on the front. FWD adds traction, efficiency. Obviously not intended for heavy loads, but that market is already well served. This gets the meat to the butcher at 40mpg (gas, diesel, hybrid and all electric powertrains, duh). What do the B&B think?

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    #1. A compact with cheap small frame and engine (nothing spectacular, 30mpg will do) loaded with every gadget (must have a big honkin’ nav screen) possible for about $15,000-$20,000
    AND
    #2. A sub 5.5 second 0-60mph ANYTHING for less than 12,000 new. Won”t need the gizmos of the compact, just speed on the cheap.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    The gaps I see are:

    *fullsize hybrid luxury sedan with a 4 cylinder (think LS250hL).

    *AWD minivan with V8 or twin turbo V6 and semi-active suspension (think Sienna minivan with a 4.6L V8).

    *a Civic, Mazda3, or WRX with throw-away steel wheels and tires (assuming you’re going to buy aftermarket rims and tires anyway).

    Not going to happen, since none of these would have sufficient volume to be profitable.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    The 3.5 v-6 di version of the new Camero should probably just about fit the cheap rwd profile, it might weigh a little more, and cost a bit more the first couple of years, but the price will come down like all domestics, just a question of whether or not those “drift kids” will suck it up and actually by American.

  • avatar
    chanman

    I’d like to see a new Civic wagon to compete with the Matrix or 3-series wagons, actually.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Please visit the Ford of South Africa site at:

    http://www.ford.co.za

    and look at the Bantam truck. Starting at about US$10,000 – this is precisely tthe hole that needs to be filled in North America.

    Ford whines and whines that their cars won’t sell. Listen morons, you have cars that will sell PLENTY – just bring them here.

  • avatar
    V6

    for me it would be a modern day version of the E36 BMW 3-Series sedan.

    it was/is the perfect size for me, not exactly roomy in the back but can take people occasionally. a range of 6 cylinder engines (i ignore the 4 cylinder versions) from 2.0-2.8)

    or the Toyota Altezza. similar size, RWD, a choice of high revving 2.0 4 cylinder or smooth/relaxing 2.0 6 cylinder

    the above made by GM(holden)/Ford/Hyundai priced similar to Camry/Accord would be amazing

  • avatar
    TaxedAndConfused

    A REAL new mini, not the bloated idiot-wagon currently made by BMW.

  • avatar
    kkop

    The unfilled gap in the car market?

    Vehicles with an interior set up for occupants > 6′

    The current designs are actually making cars more cramped for the long-legged (center consoles cutting into the lower legs)
    And while adjustable seats allow for the tiniest of drivers (seats practically touching the steering wheel), an extra inch on the track to allow seats to go back a little farther is usually only found on European cars.

    Even full-size trucks don’t allow a good ergonomic position for taller drivers (I tried them all).

  • avatar
    John R

    As for the 3k pound coupe for $25k +/-, the new Hyundai Genesis Coupe may be the closest we’ll get. And I suspect the kids will be all over the 4-cyl turbo version. I’m interested in the V6 to see how it compares to the Infiniti G coupe. It’ll be a second slower in acceleration than the Nissan, but I wonder if it’ll be noticeable.

    As for the biggest niche not being noticed? I’d also go with the small RWD 4-door for less than $30k. Have you seen the number of used Infiniti G sedans and 3-series sedans on the streets? You can’t swing a cat with out hitting one. If Hyundai made a 4-door Genesis variant smaller than the current luxury sedan (around the same size as the aforementioned Infiniti and BMW) with amenities and power comparable to my Sonata SE (I don’t need leather or SAT-NAV) I’d be all over it.

  • avatar
    RayH

    Without a doubt, a compact truck sized between the size a current ranger and the 97-04 Dakota. A diesel would be nice, but a higher-horsepower 4 cylinder gasser that gets 30 on the highway would be adequate. The current Ranger, despite its shortcomings, is close to this formula. Unfortunately, after discounts, a base Ranger is only $500-$1000 bucks cheaper than a discounted F150. F150 every time then.
    (Prices based upon Saturday/Sunday car sales ads in Ohio over the course of a couple years).

  • avatar
    menno

    Mahindra is going to begin US assembly of Indian mini pickup truck kits with a diesel, in Ohio, I believe. At least that was the plan before the Greater Depression began.

    In fact, Mahindra executives? If any of you are reading this, you need to know that your product is now needed even MORE than it was a year ago, in the US. So, get with it, guys!

    There is a real need for a true, simple, real truck for actual work. As may obviously be seen by the kei truck phenomenon.

    I suspect that a niche player such as Subaru could actually bring new kei truck kits in (left hand drive, of course) and assemble them in their Indiana plant, and soak up some of that market, obviously a slightly different market than the Mahindra. Alternately, Suzuki could assemble them in Ingersol, Ontario or Mitsubishi in Normal, Illinois.

    US crash standards for such a tiny truck may not be as difficult to accomplish as you might think; after all, surely the Japanese market vehicles (even Kei cars/trucks) have to be crashworthy to be sold in a 1st world nation like Japan? Especially since the Kei cars are the most popular vehicles on the road there.

  • avatar
    jimmy2x

    Justin Berkowitz :
    January 19th, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    This is cutting analysis.

    Its always nice to start the day with a laugh – thanks Justin.

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    Missing?

    1. Station Wagons…. look at how well Benz, BMW & Audi integrate styling for wagon versions of their sedans. Bring back midsize wagons! So one could have a 4 cyl mpg with a stick, handling, cargo space and a roof rack to haul sports gear with ease or have a hitch to pull small trailers

    2. Smaller minivans. Mazda5 for example. Honda should bring the Stream stateside

    3. Pickup trucks that can actually be loaded and unloaded by humans. Thus a resurgence of the mini truck with good mpg (25 to 30mpg hwy). Remember the Nissan hardbody launched in the 80′s

    4. Lighten up vehicle weight across the board. Most cars & trucks are too heavy

    5. Better range of option packages to enable the purchase of a good vehicle without all the gingerbread that ends up costing extra money only to offer more items to break as the vehicle ages

  • avatar
    Hwanung

    RE: jmo :
    I have an engineering question as well. For FWD drive cars that have AWD as an option – think Audi A4/GTI/Fusion/Taurus, what is to stop the manufacturer from offering FWD/AWD/RWD as options? I’d have to think there is a reason you can’t but I’d like to know what it is.

    These cars, with past A4s as an exception, have a transverse mounted engine (east west). That is obviously conducive to FWD. However, for the AWD setup, they are using a center transfer case to send power to the rear wheels via an additional driveshaft.

    It would be extremely inefficient and expensive to use THAT engine and transmission setup to make a RWD car, as you would still need the transfer case and driveshaft.

    RWD cars have inline mounted engines (North South) and run a driveshaft directly from the transmission to the rear differential, without the need of a transfer case. AWD vehicles, based off this setup, would then use a transfer case to drive the front wheels (ex. BMW).

    A picture, from HowStuffWorks, is here for the rwd style transfer case.

    I can’t find a FWD style setup right now, but it’s basically the same idea except the transfer case sends power to the rear.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    jmo:

    “I have an engineering question as well. For FWD drive cars that have AWD as an option – think Audi A4/GTI/Fusion/Taurus, what is to stop the manufacturer from offering FWD/AWD/RWD as options? I’d have to think there is a reason you can’t but I’d like to know what it is.”

    I don’t think the big deal is transverse vs. longitudinal mounted engines. This guy made a RWD Mitsubishi evo, which has a transverse engine:

    http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-1029284.html

    The big deal is that the driveshaft, rear differential and rear suspension on the primarily FWD AWD cars are not strong enough to handle 100% of the power and torque.

    Also, on all the primarily FWD AWD cars the entire engine block is in front of the front axle, so even if the car was made pure RWD it still would not have optimal handling because of the engine location. For example, in the primarily RWD Infiniti G35 the entire engine block is behind the front axle, giving the car much more neutral handling, and allowing Infiniti to call it front-mid engined (i.e. the FM platform).

    However, things are going to change very soon as hybrids evolve from parallel hybrids to series hybrids.

    Right now parallel hybrids like the Prius and Insight have relatively conventional internal combustion drivetrains that are assisted by an electric motor.

    In the future there will be series hybrids that will have no physical connection between the internal combustion engine and the wheels (like a diesel-electric locomotive). The internal combustion engine will simply exist to recharge the batteries or directly power the electric motors. The electric motors will be the only thing physically connected to the wheels.

    Advancements in electric motors will allow in-hub electric motors to easily go into any of the car’s four wheels.

    A series hybrid with two electric motors either in the front wheels (FWD) or rear wheels (RWD) could be the standard configuration, while putting motors in all four wheels (AWD) would be optional.

    There will be no driveshafts or differentials to worry about.

    Since FWD/RWD/AWD will soon (5-10 years) be determined simply by the placement of electric motors is why I think Honda refuses to invest in creating new conventional RWD platforms.

  • avatar

    The word “Diesel” comes up 26 times in this discussion.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    davejay

    Oh, this is easy. As evidenced by your “The Weirdo’s Paradox” podcast topic, there is an epic shortage of cars that are both stylish and reliable for a reasonable price.

    There are some Fiats and Alfa Romeos that make me drool, and they’re inexpensive, but they’re crap. Toyota makes cheap, reliable cars, but they look like crap. Some even compromise: my Nissan Versa is a bit stylish, a bit more expensive than I’d like, and a bit less reliable.

    When someone can take a Honda Fit (cost, handling) give it great safety and reliability (like the Toyota Yaris) and give it a body/interior of an Alfa Romeo, they’ll sell like hotcakes.

    Kind of like the Mini. Except it wasn’t quite reliable enough, and was a bit too expensive. If Japan had made the mini, it would have been uglier but reliable and cheaper.

  • avatar
    t-truck

    Small wagon, small pickup and a diesel options for every size class.

  • avatar
    richmond

    [quote]flomulgator :
    January 20th, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Some great suggestions, but everyone is thinking of old cars (except the guy with the minivan comment). What about something completely different?

    Here’s my shot in the dark. FWD compact pickup. Straight vertical cab keeps it very short, city worthy, and all the weight on the front. FWD adds traction, efficiency. Obviously not intended for heavy loads, but that market is already well served. This gets the meat to the butcher at 40mpg (gas, diesel, hybrid and all electric powertrains, duh). What do the B&B think? [/quote]
    ford.com.mx (mexico)ford courier
    http://ford.com.mx/vehicles
    /homevehicle.asp?idModel=COU
    chevy tornado
    http://www.chevrolet.com.mx/content_data/LAAM/MX/es/GMMGM/showroom/chevrolet/modelos/tornado/diseno.html

  • avatar
    Driver23

    AWD diesel wagon. Passat TDI maybe. However, I’d rather take Subaru or Honda.

  • avatar
    flomulgator

    Richmond,
    those are suprisingly close! I had no idea about the mexican market (go figure). I would still like a vertical cab and the engine choices, but still surprising what sort of good domestic cars you can find everywhere but the domestic market.

    What’s the definition of irony again?


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