By on May 27, 2013

Dead Volvo - Picture courtesy dailytelegraph.com.au

Each  year, 24/7 Wall Street predicts which brands will disappear next year. It does so to dubious success. Of the 10 brands predicted to disappear in 2012, eight are still alive (more or less.) Only Saab is gone (some say it is not), and Sony Ericsson is now Sony. Of the 10 brands predicted to disappear in 2014, two are car brands, one is a buff book.

—-

Volvo. Says 24/7 Wall Street:

“A mid-market car company without a broad range of sedans, SUVs and light trucks would find it hard to make any progress in the United States. Volvo’s model line is too small to allow it any chance.

Volvo’s future is in question not just in the U.S. The company’s dealerships in China inflated sales numbers to receive cash incentives from the company that never went to customers, according to Brand Channel. In other words, some of Volvo’s dealers committed fraud. “

Says TTAC: If you think Saab is a zombie brand, look for undead Volvo decades from now.

—-

Mitsubishi Motors. Says 24/7 Wall Street:

“While it never had a massive presence in the United States, the niche Japanese automaker has had some success with models like the Lancer and the Eclipse. However, Mitsubishi Motors will soon exit the U.S. market, just as its Japanese rival, American Suzuki Motor Corp., did at the end of last year.”

Says TTAC: The demise of Mitsu has been predicted many times, and many times, crow was had for dinner. Do not underestimate the staying power inherited from a rich parent.

Road & Track. Says 24/7 Wall Street:

“The four dominant magazines have all posted advertising sales drops in the past five years as Car & Driver, Motor Trend and Automobile have each lost hundreds of ad pages. Road & Track has had the worst of it. Ad pages fell from 1,092 in 2008 to 699 last year. Pages are down another 31% to 232 for the first six months of this year, according to MIN. No large national magazine can continue that kind of long-term slide… Car & Driver has an audience of 10.7 million people, which according to Hearst makes it the world’s largest automobile magazine brand. Hearst does not need to support two magazine brands, each of which is in the midst of a sales slide. Since both magazines are based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a consolidation of staffs would be a money-saving option. Road & Track subscribers could also be migrated to Car & Driver. Road & Track might continue to live online, but Hearst has no reason to keep two similar titles.”

Says TTAC: Remember, 24/7 Wall Street had two out of 10 right in 2012 ….

—-

Also, the list suffers from a bad list definition. It says “Each year, 24/7 Wall St. identifies 10 important brands sold in America that we predict will disappear before 2014.”  It should (but did not) add “… from the American market.” There is a very slim chance that Volvo and Mitsu will retreat from the U.S. in 2014, but I would not bet on it. Worldwide, no chance.

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60 Comments on “Volvo, Mitsubishi, Road & Track Predicted to Die...”


  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Amazingly, this kind of prediction is easier than stock predicting. And yet, they are so bad at it.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      A few years ago, this same outfit predicted that Kia Motors would disappear which, for anyone who knew anything about the auto industry at the time, was laughable.

      And Volvo’s problem isn’t a too small lineup (Honda’s sales are primarily made up of the Civic, Accord and CR-V); their problem is that not enough buy what they have to offer since they are being squeezed by the Germans at the top and value priced Japanese (Acura and FWD Lexus) and increasingly by the Koreans from the bottom in the luxury market.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Volvo is being squeezed by the non-premium brands more than anything else. Why would you buy an S60 over a loaded Accord, Optima, or Fusion, never mind an Acura or Lexus? Ancient drivetrain, too small and cramped, and way too expensive is a perfectly fine way to go out of business. And safety no longer sells as the ONLY thing to crow about. As least in CARS, Saab had FAR better product than Volvo – the only thing possibly keeping them alive are the XC C/SUVs.

        • 0 avatar
          turbobrick

          And with Halifax assembly plant being just a faded memory, they’re getting hammered with the chicken tax for all of them.

        • 0 avatar
          Tostik

          The S60 is gaining market share in the sporty sedan category, and is a sales success by any standard. And all to critical acclaim by “expert” reviewers. It seems the Volvo S60 is squeezing the BMW 3-series, the Audi A4, and the Mercedes C-class with their bloated price tags. How do you say uh-oh in German?

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Looking at goodcarbadcar the S60 has gained sales recently but so has the 3-series.

            Actually the sales more mimic the Buick Regal and performance is remarkably close:

            http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/2012-buick-regal-gs-vs-2012-volvo-s60-r-design-comparison-test

          • 0 avatar
            Tostik

            Sorry Norm, this just reads like another clueless review to me. Retired British Professional race car driver and “5th Gear” host Tiff Needle has clearly said the S60 has better driving dynamics than the Audi A4, and is getting close to the BMW 3 series. And here’s a little quote from TFLcars;

            “The 2013 Volvo S60 is not only worthy of competing with the world’s best, including the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class and the Acura TL, it outright crushes them in nearly every subjective category.”

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The S60 did get 2nd place but was behind the BMW again.

            http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1205_sport_luxury_sedan_comparison/viewall.html

          • 0 avatar
            Tostik

            This a very good article, Norm–great find. I think Tiff might agree the BMW 3 is still the king, and I won’t argue with that. A lot of info in this article, and I’ll go back and read it more closely. Hilarious first paragraph on why they chose the S60 as #2.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Without looking up the figures, I certainly see a lot of Honda Pilots driving around . . . and a not inconsiderable number of Odysseys (although I admit that the semi-premium minivan segment is shrinking).

        The problem a lot of smaller brands are having is that, as car designs become optimized, the opportunities for differentiation shrink. Volvo used to mean stodgy, “safe” rear-drive sedans and station wagons. Saab used to mean large (in comparison to other FWD cars at the time) FWD, turbocharged sedans and hatchbacks with longitudinally-mounted engines. That’s how both brands built their equity here in the U.S. Both of those brands lost those distinctive characteristics decades ago.

        In addition Volvo is still riding on some aging platforms, the S80 for its “large car” (which isn’t that large inside) and the XC-90 for its 3-row CUV (which isn’t that large either.) The XC-60 is a nice two-row CUV, but it’s expensive for what it is.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I don’t see Volvo disappearing, its Chinese protector has pockets that are too deep.

    • 0 avatar
      luvmyv8

      I agree too, but for a different reason, Volvo still resonates, there’s too much equity to the Volvo name for it to just vanish. Mitsubishi on the other hand, not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        Lampredi

        Don’t underestimate the stigma of “Made in China”, which might do untold damage to the Volvo brand once more Chinese content inevitably finds it way into its cars (and ultimately, manufacturing of Volvos is moved from Sweden to China). I don’t think most of the car buying people are aware that Volvo is a Chinese car maker these days (and I’m sure it’s never mentioned in the show rooms).

        I’d say Volvo’s only long-term hope of survival is either being taken over by a Western auto maker, or its Chinese owner pulling a Hyundai and becoming a respectable automaker in its own right.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Volvo still found buyers after all of the issues with the S70/C70 and S80. I suspect Volvo will still find buyers, at least for a period, if the Chinese deep six the materials or build quality. Geely may eventually just say screw it and not export them outside of China, but I doubt Volvo turns into Saab completely.

          • 0 avatar
            Defender90

            I assumed Geely was using Volvo for it’s expertise in excellence. A nouveau riche Chinese firm has bought the services of an old school company that can teach them how to comport themselves in the grown up world.
            Volvo should be Jeeves to Geely’s Bertie Wooster. I assume Tata is doing the same with Jaguar/Land-Rover.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    24/7 Wall Street may be right about the R&T thing.

    Ever since the move from CA, they lost their detailed testing base and heavy hitters like Seminaitis and DeLorenzo. Current issues are lightweight and mistakes abound. Even the on-line data panels have not been updated, and no “Road Test Summary” as a double-page spread at the end of the magazine exists anymore.

    Conversely, C&D has grown in maturity and competence over the past decade, and improved its verbal style, —— all while having maintained a good cadre of older, more experienced writers as well as younger ones. Its testing methods have been improved as well, with the introduction of novel approaches such as the diminishing-and-expanding gap slalom.

    I don’t see that R&T offers anything unique for me anymore. Cancelled my subscription. Too bad. I had really liked them.

    ———

    • 0 avatar
      Mr.Vice

      Road & Track was always the weakest link in the Car&Driver, Motor Trend and R&T trifecta.

      I say this as a long-time reader of all three publications. I lost interest in all three years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        As soon as I read that R&T would be giving up their longtime home in sunny Newport Beach, CA to move in with Car&Driver in cold Ann Arbor, I knew it was the end. Wonderful college town, but pretty abysmal for road testing sports cars five months of the year. Even Hemmings smartened up, asked their editor to relocate and opened an office in Florida for their magazines division. So Hearst spends less housing money in Ann Arbor, and spends more travel money and time flying their writers to California, anyway. Sorry to see R&T go.

      • 0 avatar
        racer193

        I let my R & T sub lapse after they axed the whole staff a few years back. In the last 5 years the best column was Peter Egan’s and even that wasnt enough to keep my interest. Whish he had his own blog though.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      R&T was always more of a niche publication out of what were the 3 major paper auto publications, focusing more on performance/sporty cars and motorsports as opposed to trying to decipher what was the best family midsize sedan.

      Motor Trend is the most geared to the typical American buyer while C&D is somewhere in between the two.

      • 0 avatar
        EAM3

        My favorite in the 80s was C&D followed by R&T. Pick up an issue of R&T from the 80s and compare it to the current issues, the new ones look like a supplement they would throw in for subscribers as a bonus. Peter Egan is the only reason I pick up R&T today. And then when I’m done with his column I put the magazine back on the news stand and go about my day.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      The car mags’ obsession with testing exotic cars is annoying, but particularly at Road & Track.

      There is no real consumer value in offering a steady diet of $100k+ car tests, and the entertainment factor wears off after a while.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        ++

        So hate that… worthless even for a waiting-room distraction.

        I’ve asked the family to no longer waste money on those juvenile fantasy mags for my B-days or Christmas. Now they know that the only “car mag” I care about is CR, though I wish CR reviewers didn’t feel obliged to include speed and extreme handling in their assessments. RR’s “adequate” would suffice.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    If anything I think that Volvo still has customers with its semi-trucks, their move to compete with Audis didn’t help them in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      another_pleb

      The profitable lorry, aero and marine operations are owned by Volvo AB which is still independent. The car division is owned by Geely. I believe the two share the Volvo name and its various trademarks like the diagonal line on the grille.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark_MB750M

      Volvo Group, which owns the commercial truck operation (Volvo and Mack), along with Bus, Construction, Aero, and Penta (marine and stationary power), has been separate from Volvo Cars since Ford bought the car business in 1998-99 (?). The other Group businesses are doing OK in the US and should be around for the foreseeable future.

      I’d take issue with WSJ’s contention that Volvo’s range is to small. Sure, there is no light truck, but they have the XC60, XC70 and XC90 to cover the SUV market, the S60 and S80 for sedans, and the C30 and C70 for hatch/coupes. If anything, the range is probably too broad for their size.

      • 0 avatar
        Skink

        Not Wall Street Journal (WSJ), but rather the very obscure ‘Wall Street 24/7′.

        Isn’t the C30 about to be canceled?

      • 0 avatar
        jschinito

        c30, c70, s40, and v50 are all ford p1 chassis based cars that have been discontinued or will be ending production this year. so their small car line up will be non-existent in 2014.

        if they bring their new v40 and xc40 over here, and they have won great reviews abroad, then we’re talking! the revised s60 and xc60 have been reviewed well against their competitors and no doubt are bulk sellers. but i think they should offer the entry level v40 for all the subaru/saab/vw folks ready to move up…

        i think they still have niche as the safety minded, less pretentious alternative to the german luxury makes (mercedes, audi, audi)

        • 0 avatar
          Mark_MB750M

          Skink – yes, but I replied on my iPad and was too lazy to type ‘Wall Street 24/7′. I was going from their lineup from memory, but referring to the Volvo Cars US, that is the range they show.

          jschinito – C30 and C70 still show on the US website. They haven’t had the S40/V50 in the US for a few years now, if memory serves. There was a story here on TTAC about the new V50 coming to the US, I think.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        The C30 was just discontinued. The S40/V50 are also gone from the US of A and few carmakers or brands can survive without a C-segment entry. Even Porsche has one.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          The C30 is gone, but given its US sales it almost didn’t exist in the first place. My wife is already worried about replacing hers, she loves that hot hatch.

          Volvo can live on if they just keep making safe CUVs and SUVs for soccer moms. This is fine until the next big “thing” comes out but they aren’t selling it. Their lack of a hybrid is going to bite them.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Indeed. The only relevant automaker I can think of that doesn’t have a small sedan is Jaguar…and I believe they’ve got one in the works…

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    C&D is such a GM mouthpiece…I’d rather switch to Jalopnik. Of course…TTAAW (The Truth About Auto Writers) had better up its game as no media is a guaranteed thing in this fast paced Internet crazy world.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I could see a scenario where Volvo Cars goes away, at least in any recognizable form and in the US market. I think recent history shows that predicting their failure in 2014 is premature. They can hang on for years before conceding that the cost of competing to retain their existing customers and attract new ones is a money-losing proposition. This could be Mitsubishi USA’s year. Even if they stay here, if nobody buys one does their presence still matter?

    Road & Track isn’t in a good situation. New cars are boring and about to get much worse. Car and Driver has cornered the 14 year old boy market, and there aren’t enough 14 year old boys that care about cars to support another magazine doing the same thing for the same company. Do kids read print magazines? The places I get my hair cut have dropped their car magazine subscriptions in the past four years. The waiting room at Discount Tires only has Automobile Magazine now, another title I’d put on death watch. I don’t know why Motor Trend gets a pass either. Have they managed to monetize their loyalty to Detroit? Everyone tows the line now, but Detroit never had a bad model year in Motor Trend world, unless it was in hindsight to put the wonderfulness of their new models in perspective.

    Road & Track used to have something different to offer, but for various reasons their contributors that had unique perspectives are no longer contributing content. Disappearing advertisers mean that the remaining ones must get their pound of flesh. All of these magazines write their reviews to the benefit of their advertisers instead of their readers. The only other recurring theme is expensive cars as porn. Why do they have fresh specs for every engine offering and trim level of every $60K and up car and occasionally run a one page ‘drive’ review of models that outsell them all? Do they think their readers are all looking for clues how to spend their $300 a month option budget on their new Porsche Boxsters? Is that the dream demographic they want to present to their advertisers? The classiest products advertized with any regularity are cargo liners for CUVs, discounted tires, and radar detectors. Chinese collectibles and male inadequacy products may appeal to German car buyers, but there aren’t enough of them to justify expensive ads. CAFE is poised to set us back to 1978. People are going to need auto journalism with a consumerist bent, much as we had from these dinosaurs thirty years ago. They were far from perfect then in their unwillingness to condemn technologies that bit buyers, but they were far better at reviewing mass market cars than they are now. Consumer Reports is probably better positioned to hire some people that can write than the buff books are to start writing about the realities of their advertisers’ products.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I enjoyed the racetrack data, especially from tracks that I’ve been on.

      But really, how long can Honda afford to bring out new cars then have to “refresh” them twelve months later?

  • avatar

    It’s disgusting to think that that rag, C&D, might outlive Road & Track which is the Bible for us sports car guys and will always be worth reading as long as Peter Egan (the ultimate Car Guy)writes for them.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Hi andys120 – - –

      Disagree that C&D is still a rag any longer: they have come up the food chain quite a bit lately;
      Agree on R&D having been the Bible of car enthusiasts: I went through that “Road Test Summary” meticulously.

      But my favorite right now is something as unaffected and straightforward as “AUTOWEEK” — and it comes every two weeks with decent writing, good comprehensive coverage, and posting of the racing schedules. Car testing (performance numbers) is their weak spot, however.

      ——–

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Does this mean that I could get an XC60 R-Design for cheap?

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    They do have a point about Volvo’s model line. The company has been willingly retreating from segment after segment.

    Compact cars – S40/V50 – discontinued and not replaced in the US (V40 sold overseas)

    Subcompact – C30 – discontinued, no clear replacement plans

    Midsize wagon – V70 – discontinued in US, previously Volvo’s bread and butter model

    It’s a similar story at Mitsubishi where they dropped their midsize Galant and have let their compact Lancer wither on the vine. You can’t pull out of the highest-volume, most important segments of the market place and not expect to pay some sort of a penalty in sales volume and market share.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark_MB750M

      As others have mentioned, Volvo has lost some of their unique selling point – safety – and without that they have a hard time justifying a a premium priced product. Scandinavian design only gets you so far.

      We’re big fans of the V70 (have two) and are considering another Volvo to replace the older wagon. The XC70 seems like it continues the V70 design, but based on casual observations, the XC70 is jacked up somewhat. One of the nice things about the wagon vs. CUV/SUV is the lower lift height into the cargo area. Keeping the wagon could have been the differentiator Volvo needed.

      We have to get down to the dealer and examine the car in more detail.

      I wonder if the switch from V70 to XC70 in the lineup helped or hurt sales?

  • avatar
    gasser

    In March I renewed my subscription to C&D. For $2 more they gave me a year of R&T.
    Think that’s making any monet for them?
    By the way, I find the new R&T format horribly busy and almost unreadable. Probably designed by the ADHD generation.

  • avatar
    AFX

    Rodent Track hasn’t been a usefull publication since they got rid of the Cyclops cartoons.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I haven’t read any car magazines for about 20 years.

    No, wait. There was a Miata article some 10 years ago in my dentist’s waiting room. The mag was at least 6 months old at that time. It’s probably still there. I have a checkup this week; maybe I’ll look for it again. That would be funny and sad, wouldn’t it?

  • avatar

    Since when Volvo makes luxury cars competing with Mercedes, BMW and Audi? It always was the Swedish version of Ford Taurus – no frills, honest and dependable car, safe because Swedes like safe, long lasting designed for the harsher northern climate. Practical but not luxury or sport in any shape and form. Then Ford decided to turn it into a luxury brand for no good reason – instead of taking care of Lincoln they started messing with Volvo. At the current prices and not perceived as a luxury brand it will sooner or later fold like SAAB. These days it is also not as dependable as used to be and not much practical.

    Regarding WS – what did you expect from MBAs graduated from American business schools – they quick on laying off the best engineers and workers and terminating companies for no good reason (consolidation) – just ask Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Volvo has made competing luxury cars. You could always compare them to the Germans in the past, and they had comparable cars. Better rides and nicer interiors than any non luxury US cars. The only comparable seats to my Volvo are extra cost upgrades in any other line. The ride is top notch, as is the interior. The thing about Volvo is that while other luxury brands were best at styling, or handling, or quiet, etc. Volvo was best at safety. Still, they compete well in most categories with any luxury brand.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    Previous contributors have clarified the separation between Volvo cars and Volvo trucks. Does the same apply to Mitsubishi? I see plenty of Mitsu trucks in Oz especially the Canter which is everywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      ppxhbqt

      Ehh, kinda. Mitsubishi Fuso is owned about 11% by Mitsubishi Group, of which Mitsubishi Motors is also a part of. Daimler AG owns the rest. Most of Mitsubishi Motors seems to now be owned by members of the Mitsubishi Group. There’s a minor connection, but they certainly aren’t the same company.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    C and D is better then R&T now. I like both though – and think the quality of writing in Car and Driver is very high. Long term almost all magazines are in trouble though. And people will just buy cars without even a test drive as if they were washing machines so no car magazine is long for this world.

  • avatar

    Shamelessly pimped by this site, I gave the revamped R&T a chance, I actually bought the last 2 issues. If you haven’t seen it, give it a glance at the newsstand. I think you’ll like it.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The data panels from C&D and R&T online are nice. C&D has a .pdf of the test sheet. But R&T is the only print to offer a snipet of performance in the back of the magazine.

      But R&T online data panels have not been updated in some time.

  • avatar
    turbobrick

    Part of Volvo’s problem is that the only people who buy new Volvos are people who wrecked their old ones (THAT’S why they’re so committed to the whole zero fatalities thing, they’ll run out of customers otherwise).

    It’s harder for them to attract new customers because the safety difference isn’t as easy to perceive anymore between their offering vs competition, and the high price tag + poor resale value are a turnoff.

    As far as Mitsubishi’s health goes, how is Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America doing, exactly? Because I have a feeling that MMUSA dealerships are more more useful as the retail channel for their loans, and the vehicles are just the garnish on the plate. Just like chicken wire dealers, who cares if you only break even on the cars, the real money is in the financing.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      That would be terrible for Volvo, if it had any basis in fact. You need to spend more time on a Volvo lot. While the safety difference has shrunk a bit (if you don’t buy a Volvo then you have to wait for the tests on new models), so has the longterm reliability difference. They don’t make Toyota trucks like they used to. Especially Land Cruisers.

      The XC series compares well to the competition. The 60 is excellent and good looking while the 70 and 90 are ancient and STILL compete. You can do what has been done for ages with Volvo. Buy a car comparable to the Germans for less, or go up a class for the same money.

      • 0 avatar
        turbobrick

        Since we’re being snippy, you should spend more time talking to insurance agents and ask about customers who buy policies for Volvos.

        PERCEIVED safety. Look at a 740 and compare to a similar Camry and you can see the thinner pilars. Airbags vs no airbags, ABS’s… all things you can see and feel. 2013 models, harder to compare just by eyeballing things.

        Subaru Outback came and ate V70′s lunch long time ago. It offered the same features and feel-goody stuff for less money to begin with and without the crazy depreciation. That’s where all the tweedy teacher types went, and they can’t pull in enough German luxury car snobs to replace them because all they care about is the perception of wealth that comes with the car.

        Volvo should take aim at VW, not Audi, and use their Chinese connection for that. It’s not like they haven’t done that before when they bought DAF and built all those 300/400 series cars our of Renault parts. Chinese built doesn’t have to mean crap either (Lenovo Thinkpad).

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Sorry Turbo, that’s two unsupportable rants in a row. Volvo’s don’t just sell to former owners who wreck them, and the safety isn’t measured by your perception but by crash tests and actual crashes. As I pointed out, every manufacturer other than Volvo gets smacked by the testers every few years. If Volvo failed a test, I have yet to hear about it.

          What do you own anyway? How about I make sweeping generalizations about your brand and what kinds of people drive them?

          • 0 avatar
            turbobrick

            We are talking about completely different things here. I’m talking about how the general public buys stuff for the weirdest reasons. Nothing to do with technical aspects of the products.

            You keep talking about how excellent Volvo products are. Sure they are. But I’m going to make another sweeping generalization and say that most people who buy new cars don’t really weigh that technical stuff in on their decision making. Otherwise there would be a lot more brown stickshift diesel stationwagons out there.

            Out of the current Volvo owners that I know, all but one are repeat buyers and there’s a chance the last one might be too, I haven’t asked. You buy one of those damn thing and then you just keep on buying more. I should know, I have two of them.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          “Chinese built doesn’t have to mean crap either (Lenovo Thinkpad).”

          Of course, now Lenovo is moving some production to North Carolina.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    Automobile mag recently offered me a subscription for $6/year. That’s probably barely above what an issue goes for at a newsstand! They must be pretty desperate for subscribers too.


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