By on August 4, 2012

The most successful brands in our industry don’t have much meaning to them.

Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, all of these are names that wouldn’t evoke much of any imagery had their manufacturers never existed.

Mercury and Saturn are popular planets that make you think of space and the futuristic pursuit of those faraway places. Acura should be quite accurate and precise. Rams are tough. Infiniti pays homage to the outer limits of capability and performance.

Yet all of these names experienced failure, or ultimately failed, due to the key essential ingredient within any brand’s reputation.

Product.

Scion now finds itself on the edge of irrelevance due to a series of bad products. Although I believe that Scion is essential to Toyota’s long-term performance in North America, other experts have plenty of good reasons to disagree with me.

The most obvious loser these days is smart, which has turned out to be a failure par excellence. You didn’t need a brilliant iQ or bat 500 with our prior features on dead brands to figure out why. Bad product will always be to cars what bad loans will be to the banks.

A risk free opportunity to shed debt, liquidate assets, and drink deeply in the vassals of government loans and grants.

Doubt me?

You should, if the automaker you are considering is headquartered in Europe.

Opel, Fiat and Peugeot appear to be suffering a decline that is, in part, due to their dependence on home markets that are stunted by an endless sea of bad governance and legacy costs.

A lot of folks believe that European consolidation has been due ever since British Leyland got sliced, diced and sold to whatever foolish suitors were willing to buy their market sizzle. Those rotten stakes didn’t add up to very much back then. Today the sizzle of a brand name means even less since the profit in mature markets may be non-existent.

Now these victors of yesteryear find themselves competing against global automakers that are not dependent on mature and declining markets with little to no profit. Europe’s long cold recession may only give VW the smallest of sniffles. While Opel, Fiat and Peugeot are now suffering with varying levels of flu like symptoms, and unprofitable products developed for a home audience that is simply not there.

The historians among us may look back on the past failures of these three in North America and wonder, “Does a lack of success in major overseas markets eventually yield itself to domestic weakness?” If this is the case, does the ‘new’ GM and Chrysler stand even a shadow of a chance over the long run?

As for Japan Inc., Mitsubishi seems to be tanking it here in North America… even as a Hertz special. Suzuki is hanging on in a near zombie state of North American product rot. Not too far away in India, Jaguar and Land Rover are still not quite ready for a prime time hit. Should they pack up their star spangled tent and focus their limited resources on the emerging economic engines of East Asia and the Pacific Rim?

Then we have the high end of the market. Too many names and certain pseudo-elite manufacturers are playing too many games with an information enriched public.

The shakeout is already taking place. Maybach never could muster up the prestige of Mercedes. But how about Maserati? Will their social equity investments continue to yield a small dividend of increased sales? Or will the better funded competitors in Germany and Japan turn the beleaguered trident into an archaic pitchfork?

Change in the global auto industry is always slow. You always see the dimming headlights well before the automaker sees the cliff. But time and money are finite, as is the future for some modern day manufacturers and their brands.

It looks like nearly everyone will emerge from 2012 with a continuing lease on life. SAAB may even be revived. But how about everyone else by say… 2014?

Who do you believe is already on the slippery slope to a depreciation hell solely reserved for orphan brands?

 

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127 Comments on “Dead Brand Pool 2014: The Brutal Retreat...”


  • avatar
    mike978

    Great article. I just wanted to disagree about the comment regarding British Leyland. I wouldn`t ay all its component parts have been worthless. Most of them (Jaguar, Land Rover and Mini) have proven to be profitable and successful over the last few years. Rover (albeit the largest part) has not and went away.
    Steven – I would be interested to know why you think Scion is important to Toyota’s success in NA. Rather than just folding their product into Toyota’s (86 easily could be).

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      The reasons are too numerous and complex for a comment post.

      I will definitely write it up some time in the next few days.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      Depends on the time period. For a while there (late 80s-late 90s), Rover was actually doing quite well. They started stumbling later in the BMW period and tanked totally under the ineptitude of Fat Kev.

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        Rover failed to renew its products during the BMW years. It was too little too late after that.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Gordon

        “Depends on the time period. For a while there (late 80s-late 90s), Rover was actually doing quite well.”

        Absolutely correct – That is the most tragic thing, they’d weathered the storm of their own history, only for the ineptitude and cynicism of BMW to stuff it all up. Honourable mention also to BAe for conning Honda and the British taxpayer by selling to BMW.

    • 0 avatar
      Polar Bear

      Only smaller bits of British Leyland survived. Rover is gone, and so is Morris, Austin and Triumph.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      While Mini isn’t British anymore, it’s still with us, albeit via BMW and doing quite well.

      However, this morphing the basic Mini Cooper into various car types is probably not going to fly for long IMO.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    GENERAL MOTORS

  • avatar
    JKC

    My pick, alas, is Lincoln. Titanium-spec Fords are so well appointed that Lincoln seems redundant.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The real Lincoln renaissance has yet to begin. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a TTAC review of the new MKS or MKT yet, the new active suspension system completely changes the character of the cars.

      The 2013 MKZ will be the first volley of ‘New Lincoln’. Give it time and things will turn around. Cadillac was in a worse place before they righted the ship, Ford will be able to do the same for Lincoln.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I won’t put words into your mouth, but it would appear that you’re at least implying that Lincoln will be saved based on a genuinely different suspension system than that which will be available on Fords, right?

        First, can you name one auto brand, especially one that is a brother-sister of another under the same corporate umbrella, that successfully implemented such a strategy to stave off failure?

        Also, is that going to be Lincoln’s essential reason to exist as a separate and unique badge alongside Ford? In other words, aside from upgraded leather trim, a few different paint and interior wood trim options, different grills and tail light assemblies, what will Lincoln offer that its Ford stablemates do not?

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The suspension system won’t do it alone, but it is a good start. As of right now you can’t get the active suspension dampers on any Ford product, in fact, in a conversation with one of the Ford reps who visited the dealership it was let slip that the team in charge of the Taurus SHO was quite upset that the use of that suspension was vetoed for that product. The suspension system is more important for how a car feels and drives in 99% of situations than which wheels are providing the propulsion or how many cylinders are under the hood.

        What can you get on most Lexus models that you can’t get on a Toyota? What can you get on most Infiniti models that you can’t get on a Nissan? A V8 and RWD doesn’t mean much in real world driving, and those features generally only apply to the flagship models, the majority of the lineup doesn’t benefit from them at all.

        Better interior materials and finishes, more comfortable seats, a quieter cabin, more perks when it comes to service, more technology and convenience features, and the prestige that comes from having a luxury badge on your car are all that really differentiate most luxury brands from mainstream brands.

        The ’13 MKS and MKT are stopgap measures, the ’13 MKZ is the first car that can really be considered to be the harbinger of the future of Lincoln. Even so the ’13 MKS has been panned as an ineffective nose job by those who haven’t bothered to learn all of the new things it brings to the table. Active suspension damping, active noise cancellation (in EcoBoost models), 30 more hp (in non-EcoBoost models) revised seats for better bolstering and more comfort, a larger trunk opening, improved interior materials, new electronic options, etc, it shows that Lincoln isn’t just laying down without a fight – for a midcycle refresh the car was substantially revised, and it deserves some review space that shows how those improvements change the character of the vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @Nullo, I think the key point with Lexus and Nissan (and I’m no Lexus fanboi) is that most of their cars are unique to Lexus and Infiniti, not just rebadged Toyotas and Nissans. Same applies to Audi — and even Cadillac.

        At least today Lincoln is not there. And as long as you’re selling the same stuff with a different wrapper, differentiation will be a challenge.

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        You forgot brand cachet. That one the Lexus has in spades. Lincoln barely has any. I would guess these plays a large role in why people buy a certain premium cars over another. Most people buys a BMW to be able to say “I bought a Bimmer”, than to enjoy its fine, balanced rear drive chassis. How many people wants to say “I bought a Lincoln”?

        I think brand cachet is what a ‘halo’ models (that catch the public’s imagination, of course) with things like exclusive RWD chassis and other unique features really do for a brand, rather than any real benefits for the typical customers. Lexus has the LF-A, and the original LS. Lincoln? Don’t say the 1960s Mark II or Continental, it was too long ago, people don’t remember them anymore. Lincoln needs something like those today.

        The MKS (MKZ? Whatever) may be better than its Lexus equivalent, but absent brand cachet, it’ll never be as successful as its Lexus counterpart. Silly, unmemorable name does not help.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “the ’13 MKZ is the first car that can really be considered to be the harbinger of the future of Lincoln”

        I know that you absolutely refuse to believe it, but Ford has not committed enough funding to Lincoln in order to pay for a full revival.

        If Lincoln doesn’t score a home run soon, then corporate is going to let the dealership network starve itself out of existence. You sales guys had better hustle.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        th009 –

        I can see the point there, but I wonder how much it would actually matter to the average customer if there wasn’t the incessant drumming in the media of ‘you know that’s just a rebadged Fusion, right?’.

        If the donor platform is good, why does it matter if it’s shared? If the Lincoln version of a Ford vehicle offers a more luxurious interior, more comfort, more technology, a better ride, and unique styling, who cars what car it’s based on?

        Lincoln has been doing a good job with recent models moving them away from the Ford platform when it comes to styling, both interior and exterior. The MKS and MKT don’t look much like a Taurus or Flex on the outside or inside, and the MKX, while looking like an Edge from the profile, does at least have a unique interior.

        It’s not selling the same stuff in a different wrapper, the actual filling, ride, leather, seats, all the stuff you touch and feel, is and will be different in Lincoln models.

        PCH –

        No turnaround has happened overnight. The current investment is the first step. Lincoln sales will start to grow again, and future rounds of investment for new models, new technology, new styling, and new marketing will all build upon that. One possible positive in this situation is that due to the average age of the current Lincoln customers, the brand doesn’t have much of an image, positive or negative, in the minds of up an coming luxury buyers, most have never had an experience with it. Ford will be free to experiment and try new things without risking alienating the current clientèle, as most of them are near death as it is.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’d personally like to see a risky moonshot-type vehicle from Lincoln.

        A special suspension and nice leather might win over people actively shopping the brand, but right now that’s not too many folks and I’m not sure that the features you mention are going to convince many to check Lincoln out over their preferred luxury car brand.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        As th009, mrwhopee & pch101 have said:

        1) Lincoln doesn’t have any platform/chassis unique vehicles not shared with Ford vehicles, but Lexus and Infiniti do (as just two examples, the LS460 and Infiniti M).

        2) Lincoln has no brand prestige in today’s market. The Lincoln ads that show a mid-50’s man ostensibly with the trappings of success, and oozing a technological affinity and very serious look on his face could almost be a parody. I get that this is Lincoln’s attempt to draw parallels with BMW and Acura, but that is one failed ad campaign if I’ve seen one, because the product can’t be remotely substantiated in that light (and I don’t even like current Acuras save the TSX or current BMWs save the 7 series- if only a little bit- BMW has killed the goose laying the golden egg 3 series, which was its franchise).

        3) As Pch101 said, and I’ll paraphrase, money talks and bullshit walks. Anyone having even basic information about Lincoln dealerships and R&D going into Lincoln as a separate marque apart from Ford can’t rationally conclude anything other than Ford is at least not actively trying to save Lincoln, and possibly even trying to hasten its demise (without getting into a direct legal battle with Lincoln dealers). It’s almost as if Ford HQ is saying “we’ll continue you to offer you dealers dressed up Fords for as long as you wish, and drop a miniscule amount of money on national advertising, but that’s the extent of our obligations, so good luck.”

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        But how is any of that going to get someone to drop $60k on a Lincoln? Especially outside of North America? The brand has neither curb appeal, nor respect. How much money would be needed to be spent before that happened? Can Lincoln sell enough to provide a return on that? Definitely not. McNamarra should have euthanized Lincoln have a century ago. Not doing so now is just wasted money chasing a sunk cost.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        The new MKZ is going to be ‘you know that’s just a rebadged Fusion, right?’ until it actually comes out and people get to drive it. Right now Ford isn’t participating in the conversation, so it’s going to go where it’s going to go.

        Now, I’m sure that FoMoCo is able to a better job of launching an important new vehicle than GM could ever hope to do. But… Ford needs the Fusion to be a home run. They need journalists to say that the new Fusion is fantastic and the best mid-sized car you can buy, etc. Lincoln needs the MKZ to be a home run. They need journalists to say that the new MKZ is fantastic and the best mid-sized car you can buy, etc.

        How will they pull that off?

      • 0 avatar
        Toucan

        Sorry, Nullo. You couldn’t have been further from the truth.

        What you’re talking about are counterfeit “premium” cars that only sell in the USA and mostly to gullible elderly buyers who care more about salesman’s charm than about what they are actually buying. Examples: any Acura or any Buick. Modus operandi: take an Opel Insignia or an European Accord and pretend it suddenly became a premium choice.

        Drive-compare the VW Passat vs the Audi A4. Or the VW Tiguan vs the Audi Q5. Audis feel like completely different machines. You drive the VW. You wear the Audi.

        Why did Jack write how much everyone had wanted the A4 and how nice to own the Passat B5 had been, better than any competitor? Cause B5 was exactly this: the softer, more spacious Audi A4 with (a notch) lower grade interior.

        Why the Swedes, with their Volvo and Saab, never managed to even touch the Germans, even when their cars were fresh? Because you would not sell an inflated Mondeo/Vectra to an E-class buyer.

        If you want to sell a real premium car for a real premium margin, you have to invest in the car first. A nose job plus one or two gadgets – exactly our recipe for the Lincoln – won’t do the trick for the Internet savvy Generation Why. Yet another Buick – that’s what they will end up with, to be sold for a tiny little bit wider premium.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Toucan –

        I don’t think most people draw the distinction between premium cars and luxury cars. If a car has higher grade materials and offers a higher grade experience from the driver’s seat than what you can get from a mainstream vehicle, it’s a luxury car.

        If the ’13 MKZ offers interior materials and craftsmanship, technology features, NVH levels, ride quality and handling that matches or exceeds what you can get from the ES350, E Class, or CTS, why shouldn’t it be considered to be on equal footing with those vehicles? People don’t buy the platform, they buy the experience.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “If the ’13 MKZ offers interior materials and craftsmanship, technology features, NVH levels, ride quality and handling that matches or exceeds what you can get from the ES350, E Class, or CTS, why shouldn’t it be considered to be on equal footing with those vehicles?”

        If you think that the MKZ is going to pose a threat to the E-class, then you’re going to be in for a rude awakening.

        The problem with Lincoln is that it more closely resembles Buick than it does BMW. Sorry, but you’re betting on the wrong horse.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        PCH-

        Merc moved 5,089 E-Class sedans in July compared to 3,033 ’12 model MKZs. I don’t expect the MKZ to overtake the E-Class in sames any time soon, but I fully expect it to offer an experience that matches or exceeds what the E-Class offers for most drivers. For most people these are commuter cars, any possible benefit of RWD vs FWD or engine orientation won’t matter driving to and from work on typical roads.

        The MKZ is actually getting closer to the ES350, which had 3,759 sales in July. There’s no reason that Lincoln can’t take Lexus on and overtake the ES in sales.

        The perplexing one to me is the MKX vs the RX. The RX somehow moved 7,300 units compared to 1,700 units for the MKX. The MKX offers more space, more power, better fuel economy, just as nice of an interior, and more features for the money compared to the RX. It’s usually a pretty easy sale for the MKX when I have someone comparing it to the RX, but I just don’t get that many people comparing them, even though they’re aimed right at each other. Perhaps the next gen MKX that visually moves away from the Edge will help.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        You missed the point, Nullo.

        Here it is again: Lincoln has devolved into a near-luxury brand.

        Near luxury brands don’t work. Saab, Mercury and Oldsmobile were all near-luxury badges, and we all know what happened to them.

        Ford corporate clearly does not have a commitment to the top end of the market. Its lack of presence at the top end of the European market, combined with the US-centric nature of the Lincoln brand, assures that it is highly unlikely that Ford will ever make the amount of investment required to be a legitimate luxury player.

        Again, you’re betting on the wrong horse. Hopefully, you don’t end up like Carbiz, whose bitterness seems to know no bounds because his gig at a Chevy dealership inevitably hit the wall. Instead of constantly whining about Hondas, he should have changed jobs and learned how to sell them.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        PCH –

        I think where we disagree is that you don’t see any hope for Lincoln to return to its former stature, I do. If Lincoln builds cars that compete with the best, the stature of the brand will rise. Seeing as neither of us have sat in on Ford’s meetings when they planned the future of the brand, I don’t see how it’s possible to know what the future investment will be.

        The current 1 billion was a start, but Lincoln has also been given its own design studio, it’s own marketing department, and it being given more free reign to operate independently within Ford. It seems to me like the right steps are being made to turn the brand around, now we just need to wait for the right product to hit the lots to really take it up a notch, and the upcoming MKZ will be the first volley in that assault.

        Also, I’d be willing to bed that the Ford family still has a soft spot for the brand, and consider it a matter of pride that Lincoln survive. Killing the brand would be tantamount to saying that GM knows how to sell luxury cars and Ford doesn’t, and I don’t think they’d be willing to let anyone think that. There’s no reason Lincoln can’t be successful as a US only brand, but there’s also no reason to think that Ford won’t expand it overseas once the product renaissance begins.

        As it is I sell plenty of Fords and while not as many Lincolns, I’m grateful that we do have the additional traffic the brand brings in.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I think where we disagree is that you don’t see any hope for Lincoln to return to its former stature, I do.”

        Your hope isn’t based upon anything tangible.

        “If Lincoln builds cars that compete with the best, the stature of the brand will rise”

        But it won’t spend the money that is required to do that.

        You’re laboring under the delusion that a little bit of chrome glued onto a Fusion is going to make Lincoln competitive. It won’t.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Nullo, you said earlier that you wonder why the MKX doesn`t do better against the RX and how you, when given the opportunity, manage to make those kind of sales. Just not as often as you like. Wouldn`t alot of people look at an MKX and then compare to an Edge and seeing the same interior space, comparable styling etc then choose the cheaper CUV? That is the problem, in the same showroom customers can see the Ford and then see the Lincoln version of the same vehicle.

        Also you said you don`t see why Lincoln couldn`t just survive as a US only brand. Economies of scale, that is why. Say they sell 200,000 in the US (their global sales and that is a big stretch from now) that is insufficient long term to finance R&D for the brand and the 4-5 vehicles it comprises. All other “luxury or premium” brands have much greater global sales with which to recoup the R&D investment. Don`t most luxury or premium brands outsell Lincoln in the US and then they have sales in other regions (Europe, China etc) to bring greater profitability. Can you think of another premium or luxury brand that is US only?
        Ford should have kept Jaguar, that was a luxury brand with global potential. Certainly more than Lincoln has.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        PCH –

        I don’t see your pessimism being based on anything tangible. Ford has invested an initial amount into Lincoln to develop new models, but has never said that the initial investment would be all that’s coming. Taken in context with the other actions like setting up an independent design studio and having dealers invest heavily in modernizing the Lincoln showrooms it suggests that Ford has every intention of funneling as much money into Lincoln as it takes to allow it to compete with other top tier luxury brands.

        If you are operating under the impression that the new Lincoln models are just Fords with chrome tacked on, I can see how you would be confused. The days of the Mark LT and the current MKZ will soon be behind Lincoln. The ’13 MKS and MKT have unique mechanical features that make a major difference compared to the Ford models they are based on and which are worth the difference in price. The ’13 MKZ will take it a step further. Lincoln is moving towards platform sharing ala Audi and VW rather than rebadging like in the past.

        Mike –

        Yes, sometimes we switch someone looking at a Lincoln to a Ford or vice versa, but FoMoCo likely doesn’t care as it’s still a sale kept in house. As Lincoln moves more upmarket I think there will be less cross shopping against the Ford models.

        As far as other US-centric brands go, Lexus and Acura are both North America only as far as I know. Economies of scale can be put into play with Lincoln remaining North American focused as well – the cost to develop new technology for Lincoln will help Ford models a few years down the road when the technology trickles down. Ford models could come with those features right away in markets where Lincoln isn’t sold, or Lincoln could eventually be introduced into worldwide markets as the lineup is modernized and made competitive with other global luxury brands.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I don’t see your pessimism being based on anything tangible.”

        As I noted previously, “I know that you absolutely refuse to believe it, but Ford has not committed enough funding to Lincoln in order to pay for a full revival.”

        It takes real money to develop a bona fide luxury car line. Ford isn’t spending it now, and there is no reason to believe that Ford will spend it later, since the company doesn’t appear to have any plans to sell luxury cars outside of North America.

        I realize that you’re a salesman and that it is your job to remain upbeat. But this just goes to show why car salesmen can’t be trusted to provide objective assessments of the auto industry, particularly in the case of their own brands.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        PCH –

        We’re just going around in circles now. I agree, the initial $1 billion won’t be enough on its own. However, when you add another billion in a couple year, and another billion after that, and all the while with Lincoln’s sales improving and cashflow coming in to support the brand from within, the situation changes.

        You seem dead set on the idea that Ford isn’t going to be willing to spend what it will take to turn Lincoln around, I’m dead set they will, and neither of us really has any proof or inside knowledge of what is to come, so let’s just agree to disagree on this one. By late fall the ’13 MKZ will be on the roads and we’ll at least have a glimpse of what the future holds for Lincoln.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “You seem dead set on the idea that Ford isn’t going to be willing to spend what it will take to turn Lincoln around”

        We went through this on this thread, where you exhibited the same level of denial: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/whither-lincoln/

        Ford said that it would spend $1 billion to develop seven models.

        A single model can cost several hundred million to a billion dollars to develop. Ford wants to develop seven Lincolns for the price of one or one-and-a-half cars.

        Get a clue — that limited budget is a huge hint that Lincoln is doomed to be a badge engineering exercise, since Ford will not spend enough to do anything more than that. That lack of commitment speaks volumes.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        It’s $1 billion to aid in the development of 7 models, but at no point has Ford said that the money will stop there. That initial investment is a good place to start getting things going. You can’t call it a lack of commitment when the exercise has just begun – it will take years to complete the turnaround.

        Step one is to make the current product on the lots as competitive as possible as quickly as possible, and the ’13 MKS and MKT refreshes are a great start at that. Step two will be to introduce redesigned models that further differentiate themselves from the Ford platform-mates to allow Lincoln to begin to move back upmarket and to help build and repair on its reputation. Only after that has been done can Lincoln even begin to think about developing any brand new from the ground up vehicles. Hyundai couldn’t have released the Genesis until they had already lifted up the reputation of the brand, if they had tried to release that car in ’05 they would have been the laughingstock of the industry.

        Where Lincoln is going short term isn’t badge engineering, it’s platform sharing. Yes, there was blatant badge engineering in the past, but moving to a VW/Audi model in the future is a proven path to success. Ford already has excellent platforms and powertrains in place, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.

    • 0 avatar

      @Toucan: Volvo had nothing to do with Mondeo. Volvo has a compact based on Focus and bigger compact based on shortened S80. You probably meant Jaguar X-type.

      I drove German spec Passat and Audi 80 late 80s. They felt like unrelated cars and Audi had substantially more premium feel. No one really considered Audi as a luxury brand. It was almost 30 years ago. It took decades for Audi to earn respect. Audi was always more premium than VW but not in the same league as Merc or BMW.

      I also drove Fusion and MKZ couple years ago almost back to back. MKZ had utterly plebeian exterior, interior with little bit expensive materials and lot of cheap plastic with tasteless design. No curb appeal at all. Audi 80 had a curb appeal of premium and substantial car, both interior and exterior. To me MKZ and Fusion felt the same, no difference. Even hydraulic steering in Lincoln felt same as electric steering in Fusion. I do not even want to start with dealership experience of buying Lincoln in Ford store (I do not care but those who want prestige care evidently).

      Lincoln had a great chance for revival late 90s but Ford screwed it with Firestone fiasco and by dumping tens of billions of hard earned $$ into black hole known as LR/Jaguar instead of own supposedly luxury marque. Which means that people at Ford including Bill Ford had no respect towards Lincoln either.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        In retrospect, Ford screwed the pooch by selling Jaguar.

        They should have kept Jaguar and killed off or merged Lincoln with it, somehow, but by keeping the Jaguar brand and prestige. At the time, Jaguar did have some real dogs, like the X Type (arguably, they still have some dogs), but having the Jaguar badge would’ve given Ford HQ more incentive to invest heavily in improving what were already rear wheel drive luxury platforms that were thought to be of the same pedigree as Mercedes.

        But, that’s retrospect under the bridge.

        Lincoln hasn’t had a truly worthy luxury car, relative to other similarly priced vehicles, since the 60s.

        I remember driving a loaner Continental (I think it was a 1999 or 2000) when I had a car in for warranty work, and that Continental was a giant piece of shit that literally had worse ride quality than a lot of trucks of the era, not to mention that the interior materials were woeful. I couldn’t believe anyone would buy that car at even 50% of whatever the MSRP was. It was ugly on top of it.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Nullo said: “moved 5,089 E-Class sedans in July compared to 3,033 ’12 model MKZs. I don’t expect the MKZ to overtake the E-Class in sames any time soon, but I fully expect it to offer an experience that matches or exceeds what the E-Class offers for most drivers. For most people these are commuter cars, any possible benefit of RWD vs FWD or engine orientation won’t matter driving to and from work on typical roads.”

      Now….NOW…you’re just being comical, right? (seriously….right?)

      I’m not even a fan of the E class, but…wow dude. Thou hath wade-eth too far into the Lincoln ad copy (whereth even Lincoln marketing people dareth not venture-eth).

  • avatar
    raded

    I can see Suzuki leaving the NA automobile market but not go under completely.
    GMC and Lincoln are pretty irrelevant but I don’t think they’re going anywhere yet. Scion is irrelevant but especially with the release of the iQ, I don’t see Toyota ditching Scion yet.

    I could see Opel or Puegoet disappearing completely but I don’t think either will go away.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Scion certainly is a dead brand walking the Toyarbu isn’t going to fix it, they shouldn’t have wasted it on Scion and made it a Toyota.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Suzuki and Mitsubishi aren’t going to fail, but they’ll need to stop selling cars in the US. Whether that will happen by 2014, I don’t know.

    Maserati won’t be going anywhere, but Lancia will be folded.

    Scion is a sub-brand to the Toyota brand — its primary purpose is to get younger people into Toyota dealerships, and it has done a fair job of doing that.

    I suspect that “One Ford” partly means “No Lincoln.” I suspect that it won’t be around in 10-20 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Scion has been more successful in putting people in their last new car than they are in their first new car. Plus those people that were buying their first new car likely aren’t really aware that they are supposed to “move up to a Toyota” when they get their next new car.

      I’m afraid you may be right about Lincoln though, but not the time frame, it will likely come sooner than 10 years.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        I thought for sure you were going to say Scion was getting people into their last car as all I see are blue hairs driving xB’s. :)

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Scion has been more successful in putting people in their last new car than they are in their first new car”

        Er, no. The average age of a car buyer is 51. The average age of a Scion buyer is 43; the average of FR-S pre-order buyers was 34.

        http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120430/carnews/120439999

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      Was Suzuki’s refusal to “seize the day” of the first $4.00/gal. spike ineptitude, lack of development funds, short-sightedness, or what? People were paying stupid money for their 20 year old penalty boxes right and left, and Suzuki should have grabbed that part of their legacy while it was hot and made hay. Instead, nothing. Less than nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        Agreed. It was telling that during the first $4/gal gas spike, lots of not only Suzukis were available, but it was no challenge to find either a Cobalt or Caliber, either (and they both had big rebates, too). It wasn’t until the Cash For Clunkers gimmick that GM and Chrysler (and even Suzuki) were finally able to unload those steaming piles in any kind of meaningful volume.

        As gas prices near $4/gal again, at least GM and Chrysler are in much better positions with competitive products like the Sonic, Cruze, Fiat 500, and Dodge Dart. But Suzuki? Just the same old tired models they’ve had for years with nothing new on the horizon.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Was Suzuki’s refusal to ‘seize the day’ of the first $4.00/gal. spike ineptitude, lack of development funds, short-sightedness, or what?”

        Suzuki isn’t large enough to seize much of anything.

        The only hope that a low volume mainstream brand such as Suzuki has for surviving in the US is to develop a strong niche. At this point, Suzuki doesn’t stand for much of anything, which means that it stands for nothing, which means that there is no reason for anyone to buy them.

        Subaru was wise to go with the AWD angle, not because there is a tremendous demand for AWD, but because it gives the company a unique story around which it can define itself. I don’t know what Suzuki should have done along those same lines, but whatever it was, it’s probably too late to do it now.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        One wonders how much of Suzuki’s very existance in the NA market is owed to GM’s participation. Back in the days of the Geo Tracker/Suzuki Sidekick and Geo Metro/Suzuki Swift, Suzuki seemed to be humming right along. Granted, none of that stuff was earth-shattering, but sales were good enough.

        But then GM cut them loose (hitching their captive-market, small car hopes to the Daewoo wagon) and Suzuki came out with such scintilating stuff as the XC-90 and Aerio. Things went rapidly downhill from there.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree about Lancia. In Europe nobody cares about it. Well outside of Europe even less. Italian market is not as big as American so Lincoln scenario is not going to work for FIAT. Rebadged Chrysler still look like into your face American car and unrelated to anything Lancia may represent (if it ever represented anything). I am not even sure about Alfa Romeo which is more relevant. May be it will survive as a Dodge in NA. But in Europe – how something based on FIAT can compete with Germans? Europe is overdue for shake up and Lancia and Alfa will be first to go under. Peugeot and Opel are more relevant but still going to suffer. FIAT simply cannot afford wasting money anymore – patience of American taxpayers has limits too.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Acura is in danger, IMHO. Most products are ugly, and offer nothing that is unique. I’d like to say a victim of the very market it created, but even that is not really true. The RL is on nobody’s luxury list.

    Maserati? What does this brand really offer? I was behind one a few weeks ago and the misalignment of the rear panels was horrible…had to be an anomaly but still….

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      Meh. I mean their products are very bleh, but it gives Honda fans an in house upgrade option when they have a bit of cash burning a hole in their pocket. It offers what a lot of people want; a bit of power, reliability, and a nice interior with a nice inoffensive premium badge.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree on Acura. Has no premium feel and lack of prestige. Acura what? That was a first question I had when saw first commercial. This brand never existed before. At least Lexus already a]had a reputation of making solid luxuriously appointed cars. Acura is a typical tinny Honda with numb steering. What I would suggest – drop ugly Hondas and sell Acuras as Hondas (and they are Hondas outside of US).

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Not liking product != its survival being in question.

      If I recall correctly, Acura has been having record sales since the adoption of the ugly beak. The current TL is the best selling TL. They are fine.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Acura has been having record sales since the adoption of the ugly beak. The current TL is the best selling TL”

        Acura’s best year for US sales was 2001, with over 170,000 units. 2012 is not on track to beat that figure.

        The Legend of yesteryear regularly outsold today’s TL. These days, Acura needs seven models in its lineup in order to hit the sales numbers that it used to achieve when it had just a couple of models (not including the NSX.) The brand is not particularly well managed.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m surprised a more extensive shake-out hasn’t occurred yet, though I do believe it’s only a matter of time.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yeah, I agree. ” a more extensive shake-out hasn’t occurred yet”

      I believe it will all come to a head at the end of the 2014 model year, and encompass some major changes worldwide for the global auto industry during 2015 and 2016.

      Hopefully we’ll see some more Asia-built cars hit our shores and get sold through the Big Box stores. A few <$10K basic transportation vehicles would do wonders for the commuters and give all current automakers a run for their money.

      I also believe we'll see some more restructuring in the US auto industry with reassignment of production to less expensive locations. We're seeing some of that now.

      As to the brands that need to go, I believe the brands that are not doing well now should all go, regardless of who makes them.

      But I doubt that will happen because Ford and GM are not going to orphan any more brands, even though Lincoln is nothing more than an expensive, tricked-out, glorified Ford, and GMC and Buick are redundant.

      I grew up in a time when my dad owned Studebaker, Willy's, Hudson, Packard, Rambler, Nash, DeSoto and Plymouth, all of them bought used 'cause he couldn't afford to buy them new. They weren't bailed out and died. But they were cars with character.

      In retrospect, those cars had a lot more class and charisma than the stuff that's on the road now. And although I have never been a Chrysler fan, I can give credit where credit is due when I say that Chrysler has come a long way with its best sellers.

      Chrysler will never be Ford or GM, but these days they're a pretty good alternative if you're interested in one of their three best-selling products. In all fairness, Chrysler, too, needs to dump some of their slow-sellers.

  • avatar
    lopro

    Ford. If they don’t smarten up and realize that turbo motors are a dead end, they will join the ranks of government-owned corporations.

    EDIT: here’s GM executives’ favorite episode of the Clarkson’s Car Years

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnL3msYD_9M

    • 0 avatar
      Aqua225

      Huh? Forced induction is hardly a show-stopper. Most manufacturers who pride themselves on high output engines will be using it in one form or another in 10 years.

      There is no replacement for displacement, but turbos can add back a lot of the panache decreasing displacement sizes are removing from autos.

      As software continues to improve and computer speeds increase, it will get ever more difficult to tell a difference between a luxury v8 and turbo I-4, in terms of driving dynamics.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Lancia, Alfa, Opel, and Lotus are toast.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    SAAB lives because there was a following by the customers. If Honda went away would anybody be bidding to save it? Toyota? Nissan? As someone mentioned before they are just appliances. You just look for a new one when the time comes.

    • 0 avatar
      lopro

      Toyota isn’t really going anywhere since they have two cars in the world’s top-5 best-selling rating.

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        If you take away Toyota’s captive sales in the motherland (1.5M guaranteed) and it’s North American sales, there’s not much else left.
        With a protected home turf, Toyota is guaranteed profitability; whereas, GM and Ford have had to defend the beaches of California for 50 years now. Other than those 2 markets, Toyota is no juggernaut. GM is in the top 3 in sales in virtually every market in the world – certainly those that count.
        As has often been said on these pages, in many markets, GM (via its affiliates, Opel/Vauxhall, Holden, GM-DAT) are considered by the locals to be ‘domestic.’ Even the sheeple know that Toyota and Honda are Japanese.
        Never underestimate the consumer’s ability to circle the wagons when the economy really tanks.
        Whether Toyota has 2 or 20 vehicles in the world that are selling well, it’s being able to achieve a beach head in a market and grow it. Japan Inc has not done so well in Russia, most of Europe, Brazil and other important markets.
        Some are not as gullible as we North Americans.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      You list 3 companies that taught the world how to engineer and manufacture excellent cars at a fair price. They made it possible for almost any income group to have a safe reliable car.

      They have also made some of the most exciting and fun cars ever made. From the mr2 to the s2000 to the gtr to the 510, the fairlady , the 240z, the crx, most anything with a honda engine in it, the nsx, the celicas, the supras, toyota engines drive lotus, honda drives ariel, – just off the top of my head.

      In short, I find this statement baffling.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Once you understand that Norm resides in some parallel alternate universe in which Toyota is bankrupt and the Prius gets worse fuel economy than the 9-5, it will all start to make sense.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        That was decades ago. Today is not ’57 Chevy era.

        Neither Toyota have mainstream Direct Injection or turbo-4’s in their line-up when everyone else does. Even non-economy cars have it. I’ll bet Nissan is in the same boat.

        PCH drives a decade old Corolla or Civic and continues to attack anyone who makes non-Domestic comments.

      • 0 avatar
        lopro

        Direct injection and turbo engines are temporary measures to improve mileage at the expense of reliability. It’s usually done by manufacturers who don’t have the tech to produce EVs/hybrids. In that respect, Toyota is a good decade ahead of the pack.

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        Yes, probert – that is a losing argument. As Janet said 25 years ago, “What have you done for me lately?”
        In a world where natives are allowed to go back 200 years to make frivolous land claims, and where the Israelis claim natural title to a lot of sand and rock due to circumstances 2,500 years ago, the Japanese apologists only allow you to go back as far as the Corvair or Pinto.
        Sadly, our history and culture means nothing to the younger generations. They don’t remember a time when the September Detroit releases were a big deal in many communities, or that Detroit was there on the lunar lander, nose-cones of every airliner and rocket, cooled our offices, powered our motorboats. (Heck, I wonder if the 300 residents in one of the buildings I manage realize that during that 7 hour power blackout a month ago, their lights and elevators were kept on by an 8.1 GM motor on the roof, powered by natural gas?)
        Nope. It’s all about how soft those dashboard plastics are, how many gazillion gears the transmission has, and who has purchased enough sport-plexes that can be seen from the space station.
        Oh, wait – you meant 3 of the 5 Japan Inc pilars. My bad, I thought you meant the D3: you know, the 3 companies that built the middle class in North America 80 years ago, who mass produced vehicles at a price anyone could afford, who became vortexes of engineering and innovation that spun off into electronics, aviation, chemistry – essentially, ensuring America dominated the world economy. Or when whose factories were shut and re-tooled to build tanks and guns, they out-built 3 fascist governments who had their designs on real global domination, not the sort that America gets accused of.
        Sorry, probert, I misread your statement. I thought you actually understood what we are up against. As you were….

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Interesting points Carbiz, many forget it was American engineering and industry which rebuilt and expanded the world for at least forty years past WWII. Computers, airlines, the phone system, the modern internet (originally as ARPAnet), all developed or blossomed by American industry during this period. Someone in an earlier post commented about how Toyota has a captive market in Japan, and Detroit has deservingly or not been fighting an automotive invasion since the mid sixties. How ironic Americans were willing to write off their own industry in such a short time (figure 1975-1990) while other cultures still cling to theirs.

    • 0 avatar
      Paddan

      Saab lives? Are you serious? Saab was dead upon the bankruptcy filing.

      • 0 avatar
        dejal1

        Saab can’t even get its bones bought up properly, Saab is the crap sandwich of the car world.

        A following? Really. There’s more to the car world than enthusiasts. Enthusiasts only buy a small % of cars sold. They have so many enthusiasts that they folded.

        Sales:

        2010 32,048

        2009 20,905

        2008 89,086

        2007 125,397

        Looks to me that the following wised up. Saab was sooo popular and an unpolished gem that the purchase from GM was financed by a member of the Russian mob. The rest of car world did not have sales crashing that Saab did.

        NEVS which plans to make electric cars in Sweden for China (WTF?) and ultimately the rest of the world had to postpone the final closing.

  • avatar
    Pan

    Brands mean little today because cars are no longer the symbols of success…….arrival…….achievement. Now, they are simply appliances, one pretty much as good as the other. Easy come, easy go.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      .. and more’s the pity for that. If you’re stuck paying for something for 4,5 or 6 years, you may as well like it, appreciate it at least. If there is no history or meaning behind the brand, then just what are you buying?
      Trouble is, consumers treat all purchases this way now. Maybe their iPad is an exception to that. I’ve got residents who spend half a million on a condo and can’t be bothered to read their disclosure statement, then freak out when they find out there are actual rules. If we’ve got idiots with that kind of money, then we are truly on our way down the drain.

  • avatar
    cyberc9000

    The one that really stumped me during the GM reorganization was GMC. They are literally just Chevrolets with a bit more chrome and they don’t strip down their base trims quite as much. And yet, somehow, GMC survived and Pontiac didn’t.

    Granted, Pontiac had some shamelessly rebadged Chevrolets as well (G5, anyone?), but it had far more potential as a brand than GMC does. Every GMC sale is just a sale lost by Chevy.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      You would be surprised by how many would fight you to the ground on that one!
      Particularly in Canada, where the Sierra and Ram outsell the Silverado, where the Cobalt and G5/Pursuit were neck and neck, losing Pontiac and GMC would have been disastrous. Don’t forget: losing the Venture/Montana or Uplander or whatever was a big deal up here. We can’t spend $40k on a a bloated wagon that gets 15 mpg just because it’s an SUV.
      Take a look at GM’s market share slide north of the border: Chrysler and Ford are outselling GM this year. Did losing Pontiac mean that much? Partially, but I know some people, particularly in Quebec, who will never forgive GM for that. I think Lutz, Wagoner and others understood that, which is why they hung onto Saturn, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and others as long as they did: if the 2008 bank implosion had not happened, GM may have righted the ship with their 7 or 8 brands, then maybe euthanized a couple slowly so that people didn’t notice.
      GM gets accused of having no long term vision, but sometimes we can’t always see that they may have a plan. Having 2 truck lines could prove important if there is a ‘consolidation’ in the next 5 years. GM decimated its dealer network, especially in the Toronto area. Having 2 co-existing dealer networks would require a secondary truck line.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @carbiz: See if you agree with this bit of logic: If Buick was saved ostensibly to keep the Chinese market, why couldn’t have Pontiac been saved for Canada? Most of the Canadians I know/knew were huge Pontiac fans, more than once I joked that Parisiennes were Canadian Mafia Staff Cars. Thanks automotive task force! For nothing, that is…

        Or, if Buick in North America is Chevrolet broughamed-up (in a modern day sense), why couldn’t Pontiac be reanimated as the Chevy SS “brand”? I mean, following the logic that Chevy is becoming a world-brand, similar to Toyota and Hyundai, where are the performance variants? Maybe GM should can the Chevy SS line and replace it with Pontiac.

        Imagine this scenario at a GM dealership (someday in the future)… You want a nice reliable car? Here’s a Chevy. You want a nice reliable car that can do 0-60 MPH in 4.5 seconds? Let me show you our Pontiac. You want a nice near luxury car? Here’s a Buick…

        Just a thought.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Here’s a Chevy. You want a nice reliable car that can do 0-60 MPH in 4.5 seconds? Let me show you our Pontiac. You want a nice near luxury car? Here’s a Buick…”

        I think that logic would have made the most sense Geozinger, each brand should have a specific purpose and not overlap each other as much as possible. Saturn, Saab, and to a lesser extent Hummer, were misadventures and would have been slowly killed off I believe when the time was right, but killing Pontiac was a grave mistake. Sure you can blame RenCen, but in the last decade they spent billions to spice up the brand with offerings such a Solstice, GTO, and G8… at least they tried something different (unlike Mercury) even if it didn’t work out as they hoped. Much like the French Canadians I will never forgive the current administration for euthanizing Pontiac, but stupid is all I could ever expect from those clowns in Washington.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        One thing I will say about the bailout is that it finally forced GM to axe a bunch of redundant brands. Two per market is enough. Chevy/Opel/Vauxhall/Holden should be clones of each other, rebadged for local preferences. Ditto on Buick, which should be China-only. Every country gets the Cadillac range. Anything more is a waste of resources that could be put towards making the cars themselves better.

        If you want to live in a fantasy world where a 455 Pontiac Grand Ville is still available, be my guest. It’s just not particularly constructive.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        “If Buick was saved ostensibly to keep the Chinese market, why couldn’t have Pontiac been saved for Canada?”

        because China is a massive, growing market, while everyone in Canada can fit into two cities in China

    • 0 avatar
      Gannet

      Trucks are a large percentage of every American car dealer’s sales. Chevy has theirs. Cadillac has theirs. What are the non-Chevy, non-Cadillac GM dealers supposed to sell?

      GMC is the Buick truck.

  • avatar
    John

    MKS, MKT, MKABCDEFG – what overpaid marketing noodlebrain is coming up with these Lincoln names? The average early Swiss-cheese Alzheimer’s guy like me can only remember them for 0.012 milliseconds.

    Now – “Lincoln Continental” – that’s I name I’ll still remember when I’m in Depends and being fed through a PEG tube.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      Laugh, but I believe you’ve made a good point. Every time I want to deride the ES300, I have to google it. I just can’t remember what that glorified Camry is called. Now, tell me you have a De Ville, or Impala or Charger – that makes sense.
      I guess a certain country that began putting barcodes on people thought it was a good idea for their cars, too, and the idea sort of took off.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I love my 2006 Xb , but my insurance company and my state government ( Texas ) already refer to it as a Toyota . The current crop of Scions I don’t see myself ever buying . I do think there’s considerably more difference in Scion from Toyota than there is between Lincoln’s pathetic line-up and Ford’s , but that’s Ford’s fault . Idiotic ad campaigns saying things like ” Lincoln – now the excitement begins ” seem like a huge overreach for a dying , irrelevant brand .Sticking an overstyled front end on a Ford and calling it a Lincoln is so seventies Lincoln Versailles .

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Likewise, my 05 xB is a great car, but they haven’t made anything since that interests me.

    • 0 avatar
      arbnpx

      I have the same problem with the VIN database: my 2006 tC is listed as a “Toyota Scion”, and my FR-S is listed as a “Subaru Scion”. On prepping for the FR-S purchase, the insurance company called me and said, “They’d like to insure it as a Subaru; is that okay?” Considering that the first 5 of the VIN is JF1ZN (Japan, Fuji Heavy Industries, Gunma Main, ZN6 platform), I said, “Yeah, that’s fine.”

      On the announcement of the winding-down of the xB2 and xD, Jack Hollis referred to the “experimental” goal of Scion. I picture that as being stuff that would be too polarizing to fit into the Toyota traditional focus-group-overload vehicle profile, while also not being luxury-oriented enough to be a Lexus. I like that, and that’s exactly where the FR-S falls, which is part of why I’m okay with the FR-S being a Scion.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      … not to mention that even the dullest consumer will likely think,”excitement begins? Does that mean their previous cars were boring toasters? What will they say about this car in 5 years?”

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    I think at least 2/3 of FIAT-Chryslers brands need to die. Their problem is that each one has at least one good car. Which makes it harder to recognize the problem and instead leads to money being spent on trying to develop those brands instead. Chrysler, Ram, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati and probably FIAT all should die.

    • 0 avatar
      MLS

      Leaving what? Dodge and Ferrari? And Jeep should die? Is that a joke? Completely ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        I second that. Chrysler did its cleanup when they killed Plymouth, and before that with the demise of Eagle. The only one that might just be killed off is Lancia, but even it can survive as the european Chrysler counterpart.

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    Did you know Mitsubishi still sells the Galant?

    Exactly.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    Dodge is toast. Maybe not by 2014, but their long-term prognosis isn’t good. The Challenger is likely to be moved to the SRT brand, while the rest of their lineup could be eliminated or easily streamlined into Chrysler or Fiat.

    Volvo still lacks a soild position; their cars are too expensive to compete with mainstream brands, but don’t have near enough prestige to go against Audi/BMW/MB. The XC60 is the prettiest offering in its segment, but it’s been on sale for nearly FOUR years and you still don’t see any.

    Acura, for those who insist on a luxury car but can’t stomach real wood. Now would you prefer it in Accord plus, Euro Accord plus, CRV plus, or Civic plus?

  • avatar
    Viquitor

    Seat, Lancia, Opel and Vauxhall won’t be around in 2014.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Lincoln? They are still making cars?

  • avatar
    spyked

    Honda/Acura isn’t going anywhere. It costs nothing for Honda to get Acura cars made, and they sell every one they make. Might not be exciting cars, but not everyone wants a Toyota.

    It’s DODGE that is gone. The only car that someone might actually buy in meaningful numbers is the Dart. Make it a Chrysler. The rest of Dodge’s lineup is all retro stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      Vance Torino

      Exactly right about Honda/Acura. The basic engineering is 99% already paid for. And why the fuss about Lincoln is meaningless. Don’t ya’ll get it? Ford is quite OK with Lincoln being gussied-up, high-profit Fords. Even if not many are sold, that’s still higher profit.

      We are in the modern world of modular platforms and flexible assembly lines.

      Which is the brilliance of VW’s strategy.

      The “flagships” are a different matter. Loss-leaders for the sake of prestige. Cadillac’s going for it. But I don’t ever see Ford dropping the $billions for a new proper Continental, nor Honda.

      Oh, it’s the “mid volume” makers that are in DEEP doo-doo over the medium term – the ones without the resources to do multiples lines at all. Even BMW and Mercedes are looking for volume partners. It’s Mazda and Volvo and Mitsubishi and, especially, Peugeot-Citroen that need to partner fast.

      A world without Citroens in it would be a poorer place, IMHO.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Exactly right about Honda/Acura. The basic engineering is 99% already paid for. And why the fuss about Lincoln is meaningless. Don’t ya’ll get it?”

        Yeah, that approach to branding worked out brilliantly for General Motors.

  • avatar
    Gannet

    For the love of me I don’t get why there seems to be so much *enthusiasm* among the commentariat for killing off car brands.

    Every time a brand dies the world gets a little poorer.

    The worst thing about TTAC since the beginning has been the love of, the rooting for, failure.

    Very sad.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      It’s in our culture, sadly. Perhaps starting with the Korean stalemate, the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Watergate, the debt ceiling debates of last year: there are many chinks in the armor of America Inc. It has become easier (safer?) to tear down and belittle, then to praise and encourage. It certainly sells more papers!
      Do you think the Toronto Star had an agenda when it published every single one of GM’s hiccups on the front page? Or were they just banking that many of the 2 or 3 million GM customers in the Star’s market would pick up the paper when they saw the headline? Did the Star intend to accelerate GM’s demise? Probably not. They would never look at it that way.
      What news travels faster in your office? “So-and-so is getting married,” or “You know who is having an abortion?”
      But, truthfully, there are too many car brands. There are far more makes and brands available here today than in 1955, the last time this shake out occurred.

    • 0 avatar

      Every time a brand dies there’s some creative destruction going on. I can tell you that, behind the scenes, I’ve never heard a fellow TTAC contributor rooting for a car company to go out of business. Local sports radio seems to me to spend more time talking about what’s wrong with the local teams than what’s right. Does that mean that they’re rooting for the home teams to fail?

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out over the next few years, especially if this sinking world economy continues.

    That said, some things I hope survive, one, Chrysler and Fiat, yeah, I know Fiat is hurting big in Southern Europe but they now have N.A. to ease some of that, but they do need to bring over more than the 500, say, the bit larger 500L, a 5 door mashup of the Panda and 500.

    However, I think Chrysler needs to rethink Dodge in that it needs to get rid of this idea that similar cars can’t sold by different brands can’t have same bodies like the Dart, it’s sold here as a sedan, but in Europe, a variation of it will be a hatchback, I think sold by Fiat? (I forget now). As it is, Dodge has the Charger, the Challenger, the Dart, and that’s about it, no model I’m interested in, but then again, I see what Chrysler/Fiat are trying to do, differentiate each brand so they have something in common, but yet, are enough different so that Dodge is Dodge, Chrysler is Chrysler, but still, a hatchback or better yet, a wagonlet body, similar to the Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza etc should be sold by one of them as it’s not exactly a hatchback, nor a wagon, as a C segment sized car that should have sporting attributes at the very least that favor guys who enjoy driving cars that communicate things back to them,ala Mazda Protege5, Miata etc, and yes, it should be FWD, I know, some of you think it’s hearsay, but it’s also aimed at the more mainstream buyer that cares not which end is driving the car along.

    That said, I think some brands will have a wake up call and begin to right their ships in a vain effort in some cases to stay relevant, for some, it’s already irrelevant, ie, Mitsubishi, at least in N.A.

  • avatar
    carbiz

    This has happened before, most notably in the mid-50s when a price war/technology explosion killed many golden marquees from Packard to Kaiser, with Nash and Rambler holding off the grim reaper by joining together to form AMC (using a lot of GM parts in the future). Ironically, Studebaker limped along by hiding in Hamilton, Ontario until the mid-60s.
    By 1955, the smaller car companies could not keep up with the marketing and R&D spending of the Big 3. There is a reason they were called that.
    Now, Redux II: the multi-nationals picked off the North American markets when they saw Detroit hobbled by 2 oil embargoes, a raft of pollution control legislation and general brow-beating by the intelligentsia of Washington and L.A. The cute lawn-mower powered roller skates that washed ashore back then were too innocuous to raise the alarm.
    History is littered with the mythologies of dead civilizations who missed the signs…..

    • 0 avatar

      Rambler was a Nash brand and the brand actually dates to before the Nash company. If I recall correctly Charles Nash started out running Buick and then took control of the Jeffry car company, which used the Rambler brand, and renamed the company after himself. AMC was created by the merger of Nash and Hudson. Earlier George Mason had tried to merge Nash and Packard but Packard chief J. Nance didn’t want to lose power so he killed the merger. Studebaker’s South Bend operations continued until 1964. By 1955, most of the smaller car companies were dead or dying with the exception of AMC and possibly Studebaker, which was selling cars but not profitably.

      I think more than anything, it was the modern OHV high compression V8 that was the death knell for the independents. Other than Nash and Packard none of the independents had the money to develop a new V8 and they were dependent on engine suppliers like Continental. Meanwhile, Chrysler had the Hemi, Ford made their own modern V8, and every GM division had their own unique V8 engines. Studebaker did come out with a V8 but it had teething problems, no doubt due to development on the cheap.

      There have been literally thousands of car companies that went out of business. I seem to recall that something like 2,000 car companies went out of business in the US before 1920.

    • 0 avatar
      Gardiner Westbound

      We owned two AMC cars in the 1970s, both with the 258 I6 and Chrysler 3-speed automatic transmission. Mechanically they were rock solid. The bodies, unfortunately, were biodegradable.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Lincoln, Cadillac, Buick, and Chrysler (as a brand name) are the weakest brands.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Agreed but a potential move for Buick would be to put all of the nice FWD based car models in Buick and leave Chevrolet for Daewoo derivatives. This seems to be what’s already happening… Regal will spank the new [decontented] Malibu, and the Verano is the better Daewoo buy over Cruze.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    “If Honda went away would anybody be bidding to save it?”

    BMW has been salivating over Honda for years. While they may have lost some focus on the plot for a while, Honda still makes a very decent car and excellent engines. They won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

    Their mainstream sedan is one of the top selling vehicles in the country. Their compact crossover as well. Their highly maligned compact sedan (and I agreed with the critiques….Honda should be doing better…) is still a hot seller. Parse it down, they still lead in many areas.

    No worries there.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    The new Lincoln suspension is a nice feature, but we live in a time when features like that filtre down to the econo-boxes in just a year or two. In fact, despite the de-contenting trend, the manufacturers practically race to proliferate their toys across the range. My 12-year-old Lexus looks spartan next to a new Sonata. So, if a brand like Lincoln in particular, wants to build brand cache then techno features are a giant ‘so what.’ If you look at the original Lexus LS, what built the brand wasn’t the car, which is a great car BTW, but rather how the thing was made. Lexus hammered home the idea that this car is built in a way that is manifestly different from any other car, it’s built not by drones, but by craftsmen, who themselves are held to a higher standard. Instead of talking up gadgets and horsepower, they talked about why the engine is so smooth, why the stitching is so straight, the car was merely the result of excellence in myriad small ways. In other words, the message they got across very successfully was that they give a crap about how this thing gets made above all else, and they were able to back it up with the product. Lincoln has to make people believe they give a crap about every single detail of the design, engineering and manufacture of their cars. Sync, My Touch, electric shock absorbers are just the price of admission.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m going to go out on a limb and assuming your Lex is an ES300. Personally I kinda like the look of the ES300 and don’t like the look of the Sonata… IMO the current Sonata looks like cheap plastic toy with an awful blinged-out grilled… if I had to choose between the two, new Sonata or your 80K+ Lex, its a no brainer for the Lex. Conservative looks do not equal spartan in my mind… spartan is a 90’s rental Corolla.

      I do agree what made Lexus different when it was introduced were the materials and build process… the car itself was a Japanese interpretation of an S-Class. If in 1990 you could comfortably afford either an 560SEL or an LS400, you bought the LS400 for its attention to detail and maybe so you weren’t in the shop six times a year.

  • avatar
    John

    Light – here here! When I saw my first Lexus, I was amazed most by the quality of paint – it looked 6″ deep – like a Rolls Royce or a five year labor of love hot-rod.

    Citroen has had luxury cars with active suspension for about as long as I’ve been on earth – and I am old – and they don’t sell a lot of cars in the U.S..

    As for electronic doo-dads, they have the same shelf life of a laptop computer – they’re embarrassingly out of date in 5 – 6 years. And, like computers, they eventually tend to freeze up and give you the “blue screen of death.” Almost every day Murilee gives us examples of goofy out of date electronics.

    If Lincoln wants to sell cars, they have to go back to making cars that look like the workers sweated the details, not just use a higher grade of vinyl and add more features to the infotainment system.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    I agree John, it is the details that provide the enduring perception among the populace of quality. What we witness today is the “perception is reality” that is the essence of “Brand.” Slowly but surely folks catch on and migrate to making their purchase decisions based on the function rather than perception. Those that can’t provide something of value for the price are destined to eventually fail. While some bemoan the fact that some of the best selling cars are nothing more than “appliances” and lack the personality or soul of the great brands of the past, this is evidence that people have learned that reliability and function are valued more than historical perfection.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    I wish Lincoln would just roll over and die. It’s pretty much over. I’d rather see Ford continue to shape their product line by offering top trim models than continue to keep Lincoln around as an afterthought.

    If you find a standalone Lincoln dealer in your area, let me know. We all know why they don’t exist because without Ford products to prop them up, they’d just go away.

    Oh yea, and I drive an F-150 Platinum and my wife has a Taurus SHO. After owning these top trim Ford products, there isn’t much room for additional features unless you’re a dash stroker.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Spartan, my apologies; I clicked the wrong box when I logged in.
      How come when it’s said that Lincoln will make an advanced version of the Taurus/Fusion everyone says no way? Meanwhile there are people lauding Audi/VW and Nissan/Infinity for doing the exact thing. A Golf? A superb example of German engineering for the masses. An A3? Built by employees with post doctoral degrees who are guided by minor deities.

      • 0 avatar
        Spartan

        I can’t speak intelligently on Audi/VW, but I can on Infiniti since I owned a G37 for a number of years.

        There’s only one, recently two Infinitis that have Nissan platform roots, the most recent being the JX35 which is the new unibody Pathfinder, and the Nissan 370Z which shares its roots with the G37. However, the 370Z and G37 are two different cars aimed at very different audiences. So Infiniti can get away with it.

        Every single Lincoln has a Ford relative. MKX, MKS, MKZ, Navigator all are related to the Edge, Taurus, Fusion and Expedition respectively.

        What Ford needs to do is to do what Nissan did with their FM RWD platform, whore it out and make a ton of different cars with it and revitalize Lincoln. It’s worked for the Nissan Z, Infinit G (Sedan and Coupe), FX, EX, and M, are all based on the Nissan FM RWD platform.

      • 0 avatar
        jeoff

        So, El Scotto, a luxed out two-seat Lincoln Mustang?

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @ jeoff Think a luxury 2 seater with Mustang GT power, adjustable suspension (usually set on comfort) and Shelby power levels optional. It should be Lincoln’s moonshot/halo car.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        A new Ford GT should be Lincoln’s moonshot/halo car.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    @ Nullo I’d like to say Pch101 is someone who stridently defends his opinions. After his third reply I stop reading.

  • avatar
    raph

    Ah Smart and your stoopid cars, I’m glad your dieing the death you so richly deserve. Its a shame after the raping of chrysler by diamler the money is wasted in this fashion but at least they’ve been burnt for thier arrogance.

  • avatar
    kwahaus

    Mitsubishi, Suzuki for sure in NA.

    Honda needs new leadership. It’s products have no soul. Acuras are getting uglier each day – for heaven’s sake, hire some Italian designers. Also, most Hondas are no beauty queens.

    Toyota isn’t going anywhere. Scion may be dropped and replaced by Prius as a stand alone brand. Lexus has stalled but seems to be stiring a bit. Not a fan of their new catfish face.

    GM should have combined their trucks into one brand. Dumb. GM car brands should follow the good, better, best model with Chevy, Buick and Caddy. But they need to put more distance between te brands

    Lincoln will probably survive if it doesn’t cost Ford too much to keep it going. It is and will be irrelevant. And their naming protocol — horrid. The sooner they change it the better!

    The jury is out on Volvo.

    The bottom line is that there are too many brands right now.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Yes I agree there are just too many brands out there and not enough sales to go around for all. A culling is in order… I would like to see them go in this order as all of these have lost steam for years or are redundant (I feel Kia is redundant of Hyundai, no need for both):

      1. Suzuki
      2. Mitsubishi
      3. Smart
      4. Scion
      5. Kia or Acura

      The domestics have already lost five brands (Pontiac, Hummer, Saab, Saturn, Mercury), may lose at least one more in the next 24 months (Dodge), added one import (Fiat) and created one [redundant] brand (Ram), which is still a net loss of three brands. Time for the Asian/European makes to play Sophie’s Choice in North America. I for one look forward to seeing less garbage on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        I honestly don’t see how you can claim Kia needs to go away, what with how popular the Sportage, Optima and Soul seem to be while I can’t off the top of my head name a Hyundai model that’s doing so well (And by well I mean selling, not well as in how many bloggers slaver and drool about how ‘It’s almost as good as a V-6 Mustang!’)

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I figured since Hyundai was the parent company no matter what its sales figures were there was little chance of it going away. In my view both brands are aimed at the same target audience, even if Hyundai tries to pretend its near luxury. They would probably be best served by following the Chevrolet model and offer an array of models under one banner from sub-compact to luxury/performance categories.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Love the Studebaker Silver Hawk pic, most Gen Why’ers (even die hard car guys) like myself have never even heard of Studebaker, let alone ever seen one.

    This has to be one of the most accurate depictions of the industry i’ve seen in a long time (like back when Automobile rag was still objective and not bought and paid for by Detroit). Bravo.

  • avatar
    kwahaus

    Beating the dead horse named Lincoln…

    The only way I see Lincoln achieving anything more than it has, is to doing something radically different.

    HERE’S THE PLAN.
    Maintain status quo for the next three years – the time is should take to relaunch the brand. The goal: make Lincoln “best-in-class”. Then relaunch with one car. Yes, one. An uber sedan to beat anything from Mercedes or Lexus. Lincoln = Luxury. Make it aspirational. Get folks talking. Statements like, “Wow, have you seen the new Lincoln?. Amazing. I never thought they’d do anything like that.” Price it 80-100% above any other Ford. Load it up with tech. Make it the halo car for Ford Motor. Reward the best engineers with the opportunity to be on the team. Much like SVT became the place for the hot rod engineers, this is the team for their super stars. And what to call it? Continental, what else?

    And in a few years, after they’ve proved themselves, announce a second vehicle that’s the child of a Corvette/MB SL weekend in the country. As fast as Corvette, as classy as a SL. A more conservative LFA at half the price.

    Women will swoon, men will sweat and the NBA rookies might ditch their Bentleys.

    Can they do it? Maybe. Will they do it? Never in a million years.


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