I remember looking at the then brand new Ford Five Hundred and thinking to myself, “This would make one heck of a Volvo.”
Like the Volvos of yore this Ford offered a squarish conservative appearance. A high seating position which Volvo’s ‘safety oriented’ customers would have appreciated. Toss in a cavernous interior that had all the potential for a near-luxury family car, or even a wagon, and this car looked more ‘Volvo’ than ‘Ford’ to me with each passing day.
Something had to be done…
Hmmm… why not subtract ‘twenty’ from the Five Hundred name. Call it a 480, and put in a nice classic Volvo styled fascia on the front end. Throw in an interior inspired by the best of Swedish design and, Voila! Ford would have offered a Volvo that would have hit the square peg of the brand’s main customers… and maybe even a few others who were considering an upscale Camry or a Lexus ES.
Sadly Ford never made a Volvo version of the Five Hundred, or the Flex for that matter. Instead they mis-balanced the diverging priorities of competing simultaneously with BMW (S40’s, C30’s, S60’s) and conservative middle-aged Americans who valued luxury transport over driving dynamics (Xc90, XC60, C70). The brand became a disaster.
I am starting to see the same ingredients mixed into other brands these days. Take for instance Scion.
Yes this brand will get a nice pop and halo in the form of the upcoming FR-S. Then again, halo sports cars that are shared with other brands tend to be short-lived. Just ask Pontiac and Saturn about the Solstice and the Sky.
So what would be the perfect car to put into Scion’s kinship?
Two years ago I would have strongly argued for making the CT200h a Scion. It didn’t have the luxury trappings of a Lexus. However it offered tons of sporting character and attracted the type of youthful and educated audience that Scion sorely needed at that point.
You know. The type of people that quickly walked away from Scion after they started marketing bloated SUV-like compacts that should have been marketed as… Toyotas… or Volvos. Who knows.
Wait a second. YOU know!
A lot of potentially great cars over the years have been marketed to the wrong brands for the wrong reasons. So I ask the B&B, “What cars were given the wrong brand, and where should they have gone?”.
Like most marketing classes in modern day MBA-land there are no right answers. Just SWAG’s and opinions. Feel free to demote a Cadillac to a Chevy if you must. So long as you can defend it, let’s hear it.