Gamblers, speculators, automotive industry sadists, and TTAC Best and Brightest™: welcome to the selection of the next candidates for Death Watch, where you get to have a say on which brand we should promote to the Throne of Irrelevancy.
After the events of Monday – American Suzuki’s Chapter 11 filing and subsequent ending of new car sales in the United States – there are still a few brands which are hanging out at the cliff waiting for a final push or in dire need of a savior to bring them back to the collective consciousness of the buying public.
Thanks to Timothy Cain’s Good Car, Bad Car, the latest sales numbers as of October 2012 have been tabulated and here are the brands who have sold under 100,000 units for the first 10 months of the year (excluding high-luxury brands, Maserati and Bentley):
Infiniti: 95,353 YTD, +20.6% vs 2011
Lincoln: 69,032 YTD, -2.7% vs 2011
Scion: 62,377 YTD, +50.1% vs 2011
Volvo: 55,826 YTD, –2.2% vs 2011
MINI: 54,419 YTD, +15.7% vs 2011
Mitsubishi: 50,103 YTD, -28.7% vs 2011
Land Rover: 34,803, +17.8% vs 2011
Fiat: 36,462 YTD, +130% vs 2011
Porsche: 28,226 YTD, +13.2% vs 2011
Suzuki: 21,188 YTD, -4.7% vs 2011
Jaguar: 10,249 YTD, +0.2% vs 2011
Smart: 8309 YTD, +103% vs 2011
There isn’t much red ink in this list, but the red ink that does exist tells an interesting story about each company.
Mitsubishi, with double digit percentage losses in sales over last year, is losing nameplates and has only introduced a low volume electric vehicle, the i-MiEV, and the new Outlander Sport/RVR in the last couple of years. The Lancer, a sharp looking car when first introduced, garners horrible fuel mileage and is getting on in age with no replacement in sight. Also, Mitsubishi’s volume seller, the Colt, isn’t available in the US or Canada. I could go on and on about the faults of Mitsubishi’s line-up and lack of excitement regarding future product, but my keyboard can only take so many keystrokes in a lifespan.
Then we get to Lincoln, which has turned into more a trim level for Ford products than an actual brand of its own and has been struggling for years to remain relevant. Ford did the right thing when euthanizing Mercury (it was only available in the US as it had been previously killed in Canada years before). Lincoln, on the other hand, has to survive in some form or another if Ford wants to successfully amortize the millions of dollars spent inventing in its platforms. With no real publicly known plan or future product exciting those of us under the age of 103, Lincoln’s continued existence looks bleak.
Which brings us to one of Ford’s previous properties, Volvo, which was sold off to Geely so the Dearborn automaker could pay its bills. Volvo may be popular in certain areas, but for the most part it has become a brand lost between volume and luxury. Volvo’s newest model, the V40, won’t even be making it to North American shores, which is a very telling move on behalf of the Chinese-owned Swedish brand. The always fashionable C30 hatch will be going the way of the dodo before not too long. And, Volvo’s line-up is SUV heavy, with only the S60 as a newer sedan in their range. Does Geely care about the North American market? Or would it rather bolster Volvo’s image in China while spurring on sales in Europe? Time will tell.
So, with that said, what do you think is the next brand to take a long drive off a short pier? Are we at the end of the Car Cull? Or are there still a few companies looking to exit stage left?