By on January 2, 2019

Last Wednesday, our Question of the Day asked which automaker you wished well in 2019. Today we take a different approach, and ask which automaker doesn’t need any of your positive internet thoughts and prayers.

The question is a simple one: Which single manufacturer do you think is best positioned to succeed in 2019? This OEM don’t need to change many things around, as in your view they’re doing things (mostly) the right way.

Though ’tis a simple enough question at its base, the more one ponders, the more difficult it becomes. A few passing thoughts came and went while struggling for the correct answer:

Chevrolet

Trucks and SUV/CUV action = good. Closing plants and cancelling models = bad. But GM hasn’t closed the factories yet.

Ford

The new Ranger, though expensive, seems pretty okay. Trucks and SUV/CUV action is good. Cancelling all cars save the Mustang = bad. Mobility!

Nissan

The company has fifty billion different CUV offerings, and considerable fleet sales for that tasty volume. But it also has a few legal issues with its recently ousted chairman, and that might spell a rocky road forward.

Mercedes-Benz

Broad product offering is very good. But M-B has stooped lower and lower into bargain-basement lease customer territory, and here in 2019 their long-term reliability is pretty questionable.

Mercedes-Benz GLA, X156, 2017

Every manufacturer I considered has a chink in its armor; something they’re not doing quite right. Alas, I don’t have an answer for today’s question. But perhaps one of you can convince me there’s a manufacturer standing out above the rest in 2019.

[Image: Ford, Mercedes-Benz]

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75 Comments on “QOTD: Sailing Past Sinking Ships in 2019?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    MB and BMW, because people are still buying what they’re selling

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      People are desperate for the status symbol, despite how debased the product might be and how expensive it still is

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        There are a LOT of mid-mileage C Classes for sale near me in the $12-18k range. Most are from 2009-2013 but they are priced in the same territory as Impalas, Tauruses, and Cadenzas.
        The styling has grown on me since it first debuted, and it would be tempting if I weren’t an enthusiast (or if I was 24 again when I bought my Audi).

        • 0 avatar

          I really don’t like the circa 2012 one. They haven’t aged well in my opinion. While the back is fine, the grille and headlamps look… odd.

          Also wasn’t this a time of questionable C-Class reliability (not that they’re especially reliable now)?

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            If I’m not mistaken, C-class reliability was mostly sorted out by ’06/’07-ish (so late W203 – blobby headlights), and the W204 is about as reliable as you’re going to expect from a modern Benz (certainly, I’ve heard decent things about the 3.5, and the 3.0 should be similar).

  • avatar
    NoID

    FCA. It has a very strong SUV/Truck position, it got out of small cars before it was cool and it is at the top of the dying large car segment, so losing competitors can only help its position there. Ditto the minivan segment. If/when the Caravan dies I wonder how many buyers will shift to the Pacifica, but that’s a question for 2020. They’re dipping their toes into the electrified vehicle segment after years of hesitancy (following the truism that first to market isn’t nearly as important as best to market) and I think their caution is warranted. The mild hybrids thus far seem to be competitive from a technology perspective, we’ll see what the market will bear. But aim small/miss small certainly applies, even if the BSG tanks and the Pacifica Hybrid flounders it’s a smaller loss than GM and Ford might face.

    2021 and beyond I worry about FCA if they can’t figure out Chrysler’s place in the world, but 2019 should be gangbusters for them.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      Toyota is best positioned for success. Lean & “Muda” provide Toyota/Lexus with the greatest odds of weathering a decreasing market, increasing cost and uncertainty of regulations and trade barriers.

      FCA risk exposure is highest among the majors. Product portfolio lacks diversity and balance globally. FIAT, Alfa, Chrysler, Dodge, and Maserati are all losers on global scale. Ram is not global. Jeep is their only treasure and it lacks hybrids or electric for the long term. Any market changes lessening the irrational enthusiasm toward “off road capability” would be disastrous to Jeep. FCA is/has increased production capacity worldwide for Jeep models. Any lessening of demand leaves FCA with burdensome overhead costs.
      Alfa “the six Billion dollar plan” Romeo continues to woefully underperform it’s investment.
      Chrysler and Dodge added together have one new product that is not 6 or more years old.
      FCA quality is consistently bottom of barrel.

      “Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit.“

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    General Motors. With their incompetent marketing and poor planning, they’ll self-destruct, probably sooner rather than later. While I’m not convinced that Ford’s plan to discontinue most passenger car models is a good idea, a partnership with Volkswagen could provide them with badge-engineered “Fords”, should gas prices head back north. GM has no such contingency plan (at least yet).

    I wouldn’t shed a tear for GM.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Who doesn’t need our thoughts and prayers?

    Easy….Subaru. If they build it, people will buy it. Period.

    Who does?

    Ford/GM/Nissan/BMW (partially): In my mind have a lot of work to do product wise. BMW from a stand point of too much product, there offerings are messy and it needs cleaned up. Nissan has got to figure out a way for the dealers to be profitable, most are not. Ford and GM….enough said. Figure out a product line up that people want, other than large trucks/SUV’s. While I agree that the herd needed culled (cars) I would like to hear/see some conversation as to what is coming. Enough talk about what went away.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Good point on Subaru. They’re the cult film of the automotive world, and for good reason.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “Cult film” is a good way to think about this brand – either you get it, or you don’t. I’m one of the people who don’t.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Nearly everyone I know is in one, I didn’t drink the Kool Aide.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            I only knew one cult member really personally and unfortunately he’s no longer with us. Although given his passion was Legacy GT wagons he’d probably be happy he didn’t live long enough to see Subaru loose its way from those vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            Land Ark

            I bought my 07 Legacy GT wagon in 2010 after desperately wanting one since I saw the first 4th gen in the flesh.

            My wife drove it once and a few months later went out and bought a 09 Legacy GT sedan.

            She just recently bought an 18 Forrester XT. At one time we had 3 Subarus in the driveway.

            My next car will not be a Subaru, to me they stopped building cars around 2009.

          • 0 avatar
            conundrum

            @ Land Ark

            Right on, I have an 08 LGT. Sadly now getting a bit rusty in our Canadian Maritimes climate. But still a thrill when I nail it, which is at least once each time I take the beast out for more than a 4 mile jaunt to the stores. None of this I’m all out of breath at 5200 rpm like current turbos.

            The latest Subarus are for people who occupy a different universe from those who bought before 2010. I see ’em when I go in for tire/rim swaps Spring and Fall (the dealer stores the off-season tires/rims, a major convenience for me).

            The sales staff have put me in a Forester (yikes, what a load of de-gonading tripe), Imprezas (including the new load of rubbish, custom-made for the my-mind-is-somewhere-else brigade), the current WRX (a noisy bag of rattling bolts) and the Legacy (a wonderful replacement for those ’50s Chrysler customers who still wore hats). No sale.

            If Subaru goes out of fashion among the grey-faced nonentities who buy them while fantasizing about being outdoorsy folk (starting next week I promise!), then selling 60% or more of your production in just one market, the US, will destroy the brand if it ever becomes uncool.

            No sign of that so far, but also no sign of anything very interesting like a car that doesn’t assault the eardrums and ride like a truck while offering decent performance at less than German prices. Try the Genesis G70 2.0t and see if you aren’t as disappointed as I was – 3850 lbs of tire noise from the rear and not much brio – boring.

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          Me neither. My cousin and his wife, and now their son, have all gone to Subarus. Two of the last pre Sub vehicles were Grand Cherokees, and the other was an F150. All of them silver! I’ve ridden in several different models over the years and there is nothing there that would make me even consider buying one. They just rave about them, unlike anything they have ever owned in the past, going back almost 50 years.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      Subaru is proof that selling cars is 80% marketing and 20% products.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        JH26036…I have said for quite awhile that ‘Subaru = a superior marketing company with a side hustle of building mediocre cars’…

        • 0 avatar

          I think the mediocre analogy would be more applicable to GM. Ask any mechanic and they will say Subarus are well engineered vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            87 Morgan

            When has GM ever been accused of being even mediocre at marketing? That would be a step up for them. I actually think GM builds decent stuff for the most part, they insist however on always having the worst marketing, their T.V. spots are dreadful, as in no one does it worse IMHO.

            The WRX that I owned for 9 months and 9k miles was horrible in all respects. Needed a new rear gear and turbo. No thanks. Probably cause it was first generation etc, but that was a lot of stranded for a new car.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          While I’m 125k into my first, my Outback has been a beast in the rain despite the 2.5. Looking at Subaru #2 for my daughter. A friend is on his 7th. Not everyone is a fan and that’s ok.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Planet Money has a good episode on their marketing hail mary. I can’t knock the hustle.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        Come on guys, LOVE MAKES A SUBARU!! How can you not want one?

        I think I’m gonna be sick…

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      GM and Ford crapped all over their small car and mid size sedans through years of bean counter engineering. They could absolutely design class busting vehicles but they will never get the praise such vehicles deserve if they produced them nor could they produce them long enough to change minds. GM and Ford would go out of business trying to prove a point (and since they aren’t Tesla there are no investors to perpetually bankroll a busted business until it finally breaks even or turns a profit during normal production cycles).

      You have to look no further than most comments that talk about how terrible Ford or GM was a decade ago. It always moves by a decade. Everything they have today will be the least reliable subpar crap to have ever rolled out of Detroit a decade from now.

      Ergo, they might as well play to thier strengths and get out of the markets they will never have a chance in.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Personally, I think FCA is going to be the standout this year. They’ve been showing overall improvements in quality and profitability for over a decade now and while the loss of Sergio as CEO could slow things, the new CEO seems to have a more focused view rather than the scattershot product development cycles his predecessor espoused.

    Yes, I do believe in improving product lines but I also believe that making every Fiat-branded vehicle a virtual clone of the 500 (outside of the 124) was a major mistake; the Panda was a highly popular SUV/CUV whereas the 500X and 500L are virtual flops. They would have done far better to bring in the Panda as a Panda instead of calling it a 500X and giving it that 500 nose.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Agreed on Fiat, they tried to mimic Mini and paid dearly. I’m a broken record on how to handle their retreat from North America (Re-style and/or re-badge each product as a Chrysler or Dodge.)

      I’m not sure if there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the 500 or 500L under any brand here, but mainstreaming them couldn’t hurt their chances.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        I’m curious about the return on investment of selling the (regular) 500 in the US. There actually are quite a few on the road in my neck of the woods, but I’m guessing that’s not the case nationally. FWIW, the ones I see look to be in nice shape, belying the old Fiat stereotype. There’s at least some degree of quality there, and the owners are taking care of them.

        It’s possible that the 500 or its successor is a viable product for the US, albeit a niche one focused more on NY/Boston/Philly/DC/Chicago/San Francisco. And that, of course, is predicated on having already designed and built it for other markets.

        • 0 avatar
          NoID

          They’ve sold 190k in the US since its introduction in 2011. That’s an average of 31k/year, which is far from fantastic since small cars rely on volume to make money. Being a global car offsets some of the investment, but considering they only sold something like 5k in 2018 overall I’d say they’d have to think long and hard about reinvesting in the US. It’s a niche product in a shrinking niche, but in my humble opinion it’s one of the best (especially since they went all turbo.)

        • 0 avatar
          TDIandThen....

          Here in Quebec Fiat 500s had a nice surge and then stopped selling all of a sudden it seems. I have seen precisely one 124 in the wild here as well. Quebec is a small car dream market – we have have some of the highest gas prices in n America – but still the 500 sells less than bigger cars and nowhere near Golf numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Yea I absolutely loved the Panda rental I had in Europe. I think a lot of that came down to its ~2200lb curb weight though which would absolutely not fly in the US.

      FCA is in big trouble though, IMO. Outside of Ram and Jeep it’s a complete disaster. 1 very heavy and poorly packaged FWD platform, 3 RWD platforms… one of extremely low volume, one of moderately low volume in need of more, one high volume under the threat of increasing safety and fuel economy regulations; weak electric push; heavy exposure to high gas prices and subprime lending etc etc etc

      FCA is teetering IMO… one strong wind will blow them over

    • 0 avatar
      vehic1

      +1, exactly. Their obsession with the 500 simply didn’t work, even as a Mini-me.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    If gas stays cheap Ford and FCA will be fine (GM made its new trucks too ugly and too cheap and will be scrambling.)

    If gas gets expensive, all bets are off.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I think the larger threat that no one’s really talking about is rising interest rates.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        No the President is rage-tweeting at the Fed Chief about it. :-)

        I’m planning on buying a vehicle in about 6 months but I’ve got various plans based on things like interest rates. It is nice to have my Credit Union to play against the manufacturers. If things get ugly someone will cave and bring back 0% for 72 months with Employee Pricing.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Yeah, we’ll see how rage-tweeting the guy he hand-picked for the job works. I’m in the mortgage biz, so a lower-rate environment would definitely be a career-enhancing deal for me. My money’s on rates continuing to rise, but not massively.

          Also, keep this in mind: if a manufacturer has to give out artificially low rates in a higher-rate environment, that’s going to cut into their bottom line. Someone pays either way.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Oh absolutely…

            Fortunately I’m not a stockholder in any of the car companies.

            (BTW I’ve noticed that although Chevy has been doing employee pricing on more or less everything, they aren’t advertising on TV the cancelled models like the Impala. It’s like they aren’t even trying to sell them.)

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          I am more of a 36 month at 0% guy….won’t get upside down that way…and it keeps my butt in a seat I can truly afford.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Yea, FCA is very credit dependent both on the corporate level and the customer level

    • 0 avatar

      I think Fisher Price designs GM truck interiors. Yuchhh!

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Subaru. For whatever past and present problems they may have had, Subaru buyers seem to be the most loyal of any mainstream brand. They don’t seem to need to offer many incentives, because they sell every one they can make.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Toyota – while their pickup are dated, they’ve continued to sell steadily (the Tacoma’s going to face some pressure from the Ranger, but at the same time, its sales are still up about 60k units from when it pretty much had the small truck market to itself), and their core car/SUV products are solid. About the only change that might make rational sense is a non-CH-R compact crossover (a 8-10ths scale RAV4 rather than a FWD 4-door coupe). I don’t think they’re headed for absolute dominance, but TMC will be just fine.

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    I’m going to break this down into a few categories:

    Overall: Toyota/Subaru (tie) – These automakers seem to be set up decently for 2019. Subaru has a relatively fresh product line that consumers love to buy. Maybe it’s the dogs, but Subaru carved itself a nice little piece of the market and its loyal fans will continue to support the brand. Toyota might not have the newest lineup, but they continue to sell well, work reliably, and make incremental improvements (like the awd Prius, Carplay). Sedans might be dying, but Toyota is still in a strong position even with older trucks and SUVs.

    Domestic: FCA – I believe FCA is in a pretty good position for 19. Jeeps are hot, with a great new Wrangler and the Gladiator releasing. The fact that these almost Halo cars help sell Renegades and Cherokee’s is what Ford dreams about with the Bronco. The 19 RAM has received great press and I believe we will see a lot of other brand pickups switching to Ram. My hope is FCA continues to update engines (time for the 2.4 to go) and strive for better quality.

    German: Audi – Great cars with modern interiors, modest styling, and improved reliability.

  • avatar
    arach

    Hyundai Kia.

    I don’t know why no one else seems to see this but me… We are in a rising interest rate environment. Yes gas is cheap, but even if the economy doesn’t tank, people are getting more uneasy, and losing the ability to roll over underwater loans. When people get nervous and uneasy, they look for safety.

    Hyundai / Kia are the value players, and when these situations occur, value players win. They have GREAT products, and a great position. They are only targeting a 3% lift this year, and I think they are the only automaker besides Subaru which will hit its targets.

    The problem with FCA and Ford, is if they see a 3% lift, they will be laying people off. If they see a 0% lift, they are in dire straits. If Hyundai sees a 3% lift, they will be singing in the streets, and if they see a 0% lift, no tears.

    They have little to lose and everything to gain, and the market environments are lining up well for them. With Ford, FCA, and GM exiting the car game, even though the market is shrinking, it leaves car buyers flocking to other OEMs, like Hyundai and KIA. Higher interest rates benefit Hyundai and Kia. Lots of underwater buyers helps Hyundai and Kia. Uneasy economic situations helps Hyundai and Kia…

    They have GREAT products, GREAT warranties, and are at the right niche for a tumultuous economic year.

    I don’t think Hyundai/KIA need our prayers because they have been poised for this situation for years… They will be serious winners this year.

    In the mean time, I’ve been trying to figure out how to put my money where my mouth is and buy stock in Hyundai and KIA as an American… has anyone figured that out? They aren’t traded on the US Exchanges.

    • 0 avatar

      Went to the Packard museum a couple of days ago. Cool place, and I took lots of pictures!

      Complaints include all the cars needed a dusting, which isn’t that hard as far as maintenance to keep up. And the secondary building is too dark, hard to see the cars properly.

      My favorite was probably Capone’s Clipper or the Henney Executive limo.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        Corey- Glad you made it up there! Its certainly a neat little jewel hidden close-by, and worth the visit.

        I need to go back some weekend when I don’t have other obligations. Every time I’ve been there its been for a corporate event where they rent the place out. I don’t remember cars needing a dusting, but that might be because they DID dust them off before the events!

        I really enjoyed talking to the curators, and learning about all the random things that Packard invented… like the first cars with AC! Hope you got a chance to talk to one of them. Honestly, I had “heard” of Packard, but didn’t know a lot about them, so being immersed in over 50 Packards is a great chance to learn a lot.

        Maybe I’ll head back up there this week. Glad you enjoyed it!

        • 0 avatar

          I talked with the curator guy at the door for a moment when I paid the entry fee, but other than that they were all busy shortly afterward. They were talking with some people who’d come in to set up for an event that evening. By the time I left, there were tables all over. Looked like it was going to be a wedding reception.

    • 0 avatar
      TDIandThen....

      I see Hyundai /KIA as well. They own half their supply chain too, with steel mills, and some shipping. Great cost structure provided by chaebol …likely in violation of the spirit of WTO rules, but still.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      A 3% lift for Hyundai would be cause for celebration because their sales have been in the toilet for years. They have little to lose because they’ve been slacking since the immediate-post-recession bounce.

      What is this GREAT product? Because I haven’t seen any real advantages their vehicles have over those from Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford or GM. Their new 3 row CUV is an also-ran right out of the gate. They have no pickups, and when they do, they wont be challenging the top sellers in the midsize or fullsize segments. They have no real SUVs, just pavement pounders that have no chance of challenging the profitable Wrangler, 4Runner or upcoming Bronco. Their CUVs are average at best on their own.

      What is this GREAT warranty outside of paper? Like when you have an engine failure (an engine that is known to be defective by the company) denied for replacement because you changed the oil yourself with no documentation? Their long-term quality is still nothing to be impressed with, and a Hyundai out of warranty is pure lot poison.

      Where is this value proposition they have that Nissan and other mainstream players dont? The Kona starts at a whopping $50 less than a Honda HR-V, its within $5 of an EcoSport, and is about $2k more than the Nissan Kicks. A Sonata is about the same as an Altima, Camry, and is more than a Malibu. Their products are no longer cheaper than the competition, and while you may be able to spend time comparing equipment levels, they still arent *that* much of a value compared to several other entries, especially when you consider that they dont have many if any advantages in driving dynamics, fuel economy, styling or other intangible attributes.

      Their Genesis luxury arm was launched with cars just as the car market is taking a nose dive. Although I wish them well, I have a feeling that by the time they get utilities, the market will have completely forgotten about them.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Not to mention, that “3% growth” sales goal is on the back of *four* years of missed sales goals by the company. Their growth has also stalled in China. Hyundai has a lot to worry about.

      • 0 avatar
        CKNSLS Sierra SLT

        John-you really shouldn’t cast stones at Hyundai and their warranty after Ford’s 6.0 diesel fiasco. You could have owned one of these motors-and had all your service work done at the dealer-and then be denied a second replacement after the first replacement self-destructed. In addition-while Hyundai doesn’t have any thing product wise that stands out (we agree here)-they are a value proposition. I bought a new 2017 Hyundai XL Limited AWD-simply because it was $5,000.00 cheaper than the competition. And my Son owns a Sonata with well over 100,000 miles on it with ZERO issues. Also, my wife and I could well afford any mid size or full size SUV on the market and bought the Hyundai.

        It also seems that “Wall Street” is really worried about Ford’s long term outlook as well.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        JT-

        Hyundais finish among the top in crash ratings, and while they may be within $50 MSRP, no one pays close to MSRP on them… I paid $18,000 under MSRP for mine, although it had 7k miles on it.. Fit and finish, design, etc. are all very good.

        The engine warranty was extended to 120k miles, which is longer than almost any initial car buyer will have, and your engine concerns don’t impact the newer cars. With that being said, I think it is an acceptable grievance, so I don’t disagree with your thoughts there… I have only heard people say “i heard of a guy once who got denied warranty”… I don’t know anyone who actually has been denied warranty, except one person who could not prove a single oil change had been done… I’d deny that warranty claim too!

        the big thing though is actual transaction prices. Nissan, Honda, barely discount. The average transaction price on a 2019 sonata is about 20,400, but an accord is $25,966. Thats 5,500 less for the hyundai! an Altima average transaction price is 26,180, which is almost $6000 more than the Hyundai. Thats more than a 25% price premium!

        While you seem to dislike Hyundai, here’s what you can say:

        “Hyundai had an engine issue on some models which if you don’t have records of oil changes, can be catastrophic”
        “Honda had an air bag recall issue on 1.4 million cars which could kill you”
        “Nissan has anti-lock brake pumps which leak causing fires, which can be catastrophic”

        My point being that I don’t disagree with your concern about hyundai motors, but each of the other OEMs you mention also have equivalent- if not worse- issues with their cars.

        I don’t think Hyundai SHOULD be making a truck or “real” SUVs. The market is tiny for them among Hyundai’s customer base, and their Santa Fe (and palisade coming to market) are more capable than many SUVs (towing capacity and whatnot. It can tow 5000 lbs). This is precisely why I argue Hyundai is in the PERFECT spot. CUVs and cars are going to be the underserved market of 2019, and I think they are poised to do well there.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Personally, the only thing I have against Hyundai is its driving ‘feel’. On a national bowling event I participated in Las Vegas a couple years ago, I rented a Hyundai sedan (don’t remember the model.) Overall it was a nice riding car and and sufficient power for getting around that busy city, but… The steering wheel always felt ‘twitchy’ in my hands, like it was lagging my inputs by a fraction of a second. It made the car feel untrustworthy to perform quickly enough in an emergency situation, though I never needed to test that while there.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          Re: Hyundai warranties, a friend has had an interesting experience:
          – Bought a Sonata hybrid–I think it’s a 2015–at a steep discount. The dealer group is multi-brand, and they actually had used this particular car to ferry their Mercedes customers to and from service appointments. He got it as the ’16s were hitting the showroom and when it had about 6,000 miles on it.
          – Got great service for 18 months, at which point the right front spring failed catastrophically. Bizarrely, this happened while the car was sitting in his garage. The car had to be towed to the dealer but was fixed under warranty with no additional hassle.
          – About three months after that, he got a warning light for the hybrid system. The light went off, and the dealer couldn’t replicate it.
          – About three months after that, the car went into limp mode, and he had to have it flatbedded to the dealer. The battery was done and had to be totally replaced. As with the spring, the dealer was very helpful and apologetic. Everything was covered under warranty.

          No problems at all aside from those two rather glaring ones. It’s been about 18 months with the second battery. The dealer/warranty experience was good, as one would hope in the case of issues like that.

          This friend keeps cars for a long time, so it’ll be interesting to see how things turn out over the next five years or so. At this point, he’s happy apart from lingering worries about the second battery.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    Can we tweak the question a bit, from asking which automakers we feel don’t need our well-wishes, to which automakers we actively wish ill to?

    Because the sooner I no longer have to see a billion and one Nissan CUVs sitting in the left lane at 50mph, and uninsured Maximas cutting people off as they weave through traffic, the better.

  • avatar
    TDIandThen....

    Pretty easy question: Porsche. Once customers get a Porsche they can’t stop slavering over them. SUV needs a refresh, electric is announced…enthusiasts will be coming in to the new dealer-restomod service they’re expanding this year…Porsche.

    For the mainstream brands, Hyundai / KIA. They’re a steel company which has made outstanding models in the last two years – ioniq, Elantra (GT sport), Stinger, Tuscon v 3.0, etc – and offer outstanding value for an economic downturn.

    Most interesting: VW. Who knows where that ship is turning really.

    My greatest hopes and prayers: Alfa. If I had a million $, a Giulia Quadrifoglio would be sitting in my garage. Leased, but still.

    • 0 avatar
      TDIandThen....

      Btw, comments to your column, Corey –

      * shutting down factories is not a ‘bad’ if those products were unprofitable, in fact that’s positive overall for the company;
      * the question probably skews to favour companies which do a few things extremely well rather than many things okay. Therefore the correct answer is likely AftoGaz or Scania, the truck manufacturer owned by Volvo.

      • 0 avatar

        Your factories point is correct – but that many people losing their jobs all at once is never a good thing. Less consumer choice isn’t a good thing either.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          I wasn’t aware that it’s a good thing to build products that nobody wants and that lose the company money. I always assumed that it was best to cut your losses and focus on what works, in times of uncertainty.

          Consumers arent choosing cars, period. It’s like saying we had to keep horse-drawn buggies around in 1930 because people need the choice. If the world has moved on, and it’s in the companies best interest to do the same, why is there such a backlash?

          Is it better for GM to keep those facilities open, keep losing money and wasting resources, so that the next time they’re at the brink of disaster, they do go under and many MANY thousands more lose their jobs? It’s not an easy choice, and one can appear to be cold if they’re attempting to rationalize it, but facts are facts. Companies are in business to make money, not to provide charity to their own detriment.

          • 0 avatar

            I always assumed it was preferable to plan ahead for market adjustments and downturns, shifting models and production so that quick actions where people lose their jobs aren’t necessary.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “why is there such a backlash?”

            The horse buggy manufacturers didn’t invest their new products in Chinese and Mexican factories.

            I’m not mad that GM decided to end production of unprofitable vehicles. I am p*ssed that they gave the Blazer to Mexico while closing these factories. “Lean times ahead”, but apparently only for North American locations because GM is busy outsourcing.

            It’s your money, but I’m very not keen on buying something from them in the future.

          • 0 avatar
            Oberkanone

            It’s a great ability to adjust output based on market demand using flexible manufacturing. GM is on pace to exceed 150K sales of Cruze USA&Canada. If Lordstown ran a flexible line with sedan, hatchback, crossover running on same line and able to change as quickly as parts deliveries there would not be anger over closing and loss of employment. At Honda Celaya assembly the plant is not being closed due to lessening of demand for the FIT, they simply increased the output of the HR-V.

            Consumers are choosing cars. There are just fewer of them choosing cars. To be globally competitive full line manufacturer you have to have a full line.

            As recent as 2000 if you tallied up US market share of Ford and GM it was over 50%.
            In 2016 they had total of 32% US market share.
            In 1961 they had 75% of market share.
            This decline in market share is driven by many factors. It is not due to GM and Ford making the best product at best price.

            You may say that Ford and GM are different today as they play to their strengths of SUV and pickups and plan for the future.
            The way I see it is Ford and GM are unable to compete profitably in small and medium size cars. They exit, their competition increases market share and scale and the end result is weaker GM and weaker Ford.

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            “I always assumed it was preferable to plan ahead for market adjustments and downturns, shifting models and production so that quick actions where people lose their jobs aren’t necessary.”

            Downturns are an excellent time for employers to get rid of deadwood and slackers. It’s healthy for the company, the shareholders, and the remaining employees.

          • 0 avatar
            arach

            JT- I just have to raise issue with the statement, “Consumers arent choosing cars, period.”

            The most recent data I’ve found listed the proportion being 43% Cars to 57% SUVs (Not including trucks)

            Is that market declining? Yes… but to say “Consumers arent choosing cars. Period.” is a massive exaggeration. Over 1/2 a million cars are sold a month, close to 5m per year.

            This will continue to decline, especially with a reduction of offerings… but supply is dwindling faster than demand, which actually increases demand for thsoe who continue to supply it (Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, etc.)

            This is one place that NISSAN does it right. They have flexible production lines that can switch from SUV to car and back again on demand.

            the US manufacturers do not build flexible enough production lines. They should be able to shift production of vehicle types without having to shut down plants….

            While I agree on switching vehicle types, Nissan’s approach- flexible, multi vehicle lines seems much more effective than having so much product dependency for each production line. THAT is bad business.

        • 0 avatar
          TDIandThen....

          Excellent points Oberkanone and Corey.

          It’s a separate topic but of course it’s a disaster locally when large local employers engage in mass firings and the company takes profit and invests elsewhere. (I was actually born in that area of Ohio and have relatives who worked for GM corporate and have seen it since the 70s.)

          But that’s capitalism for you, if you don’t like it, get bent, commie: Americans are so propagandized and alienated that maybe in another couple of rounds of firings, some will actually vote in favor of their economic interests rather than their owners’ interests (e.g. ‘damn furners!’).

          I’m not optimistic. As for the planning aspect of it, most of the market is not that predictable and most decisions are made with inadequate information as you know. All forecasts are wrong and many times, it’s only scale and ability to shift resources internally which allows large manufacturers to eat large gambles.

          • 0 avatar
            arach

            TDIandThen-

            I wish americans would do the opposite…

            They need to vote in their owner’s interest, and BECOME the owners.

            Entrepreneurship is at an all time low in the united states. No one is talking about it unfortunately, but its declined more than 40% in 20 years. Its getting to the point where most people think their only choice is to “get a job”.

            But if you “get a job” you will ALWAYS get the last straw. Thats the definition of “job”- you can’t hack it on your own so you are subject to someone else’s kindness to give you a small portion of what you produce. that sounds brutal, but I’ve always followed the 25% rule. Employees are worth about 25% of what they produce, so if you produce $200,000 – you are worth $50,000.

            What that means from an employee standpoint is that you will always be grossly underpaid.

            However, if you run your own company, you get 100% of what you produce, and you can hire other people for 25% of what they produce… making you wealthy beyond belief!

            I like disincentivizing employment. It sucks. Too much dependency on a large corporation in a city is sickening. I wouldn’t invest my entire retirement savings in one company, so why are we OK investing an entire city or community in the wellbeing of 1 company? That sounds insane.

            In my opinion, we need to incentivize owners interests… and convince people to stop being workers and start being owners. It doesn’t have to be a large corporation… there are massive shortages of plumbers, electricians, etc. in many areas. There’s demand for dog boarding facilities, daycares, and delivery services…

            There are drawbacks to entrepreneurship certainly, but I agree with you on the problem, but not the solution!

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Nissan: A sinking Ship? I would say that is the accurate statement of the new year! Happy 2019. My prediction, GM Full Size twins to take big hit. FCA 1500 series to be the big winner. Sadly, Tacoma and Tesla fan boys will solider on in the comment section.

  • avatar
    pdog_phatpat

    FCA will be just fine so long as they keep building a supply of TIPMs for the suckers that bought their vehicles. Should keep them in business, well, forever.

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