Biz Week: Why Bad Things Happen to Good Cars

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Business Week scribe Jim Henry calls them "wallflowers:" cars with obvious charms that have customers lined-up none deep. Now that Chrysler has somewhat kinda hang on we better wait for this union contract to go through before we actually announce anything decided to trim some dealer deadwood, Henry explains the reasons why great cars' sales suck. Why is the Hyundai Azera a drug on the market? "Customers almost have to discover the Azera for themselves. Except when it was first launched, it hasn't had much model-specific advertising." Kia Amanti? Same deal (as opposed to hideous looks and a misguided attempt to take Kia upmarket). And add Daimler's R-Class to that list. As for the Saab 9-5, Henry nails it: "It competes with European heavyweights like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which have bigger engines, more prestige, more awareness, more of almost everything." Nissan Quest? Styling's too rad. Lincoln Town Car? Ford Explorer? Buyers downsized. So now you know. Oh, one more thing: Henry reckons you should buy one these turkeys also-rans 'cause they're cheap. "That's one of the good things about wallflowers—they are usually very happy to dance if you ask them." Ain't that the truth.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Oct 19, 2007

    The problem w/ the Kia is the name. Azera. What the hell is that???! Worse than Edsel. Amanti is pretty bad, too. They both sound like lame attempts to sound elegant.

  • FreeMan FreeMan on Oct 19, 2007

    Rad must be the hip new word for ugly...

  • Ejacobs Ejacobs on Oct 19, 2007

    My mom went through two wallflowers, a Mazda Millenia, and a Mazda Millenia S. They probably pushed $40K new, but she got each of them very lightly used for well under $20K. The S was interesting with its Miller Cycle 2.3 L supercharged V6, which definitely hauled some butt. It was cleanly styled, too. But still nobody knows what they hell a Millenia is/was. Mazda is not a luxury brand, either, which the Millenia seemed to be striving for. Yeah, the name sucked, too.

  • Starlightmica Starlightmica on Oct 19, 2007

    ejacobs: Have you heard of Mazda's stillborn Amati brand of luxury cars? The Millenia was the entry level car, and a big sedan with a 4.0L V12 was the Lexus LS competitor. The brand was canceled following the recession in the early 1990's, but the Millenia was still sold.