Car models, and even entire brands, come and go as automakers revise product portfolios to suit a changing marketplace. Other times car names may disappear so as to ditch the bad memories associate with the name. This year, we’ve seen a great number of cars, and one brand, leave the market for a variety of reasons.
Chevrolet Cobalt: Chevrolet’s Cobalt represented a substantial leap ahead in terms of General Motors small car efforts, but it has however, been declared dead after the 2010 model year. To replace the Cobalt, we get the substantially improved Cruze which will finally put GM on par with the rest of the compact class. Although the Cobalt SS is fun, we can’t help but think, good riddance and bring on the Cruze.
Chrysler PT Cruiser: Chrysler originally planned to halt Cruiser production last year. However, the quirky, retro-inspired car that was once upon a time one of the hottest-selling cars in America got a year extension when Chrysler and Fiat CEO CEO Sergio Marchionne announced Chrysler would continue production through 2010. We’re not seeing another lifeline, and the last PT Cruiser rolled off the assembly line in July.
Honda Element: The Japanese automaker surprised everyone when it announced this month that 2011 would be the last model year for its squarish crossover. While Honda has been mum about why it was canceling the vehicle, which entered the market in 2002 as a 2003 model, speculation has centered on the Element’s relatively low fuel economy for a Honda, but more likely is the Element’s sagging sales, which have plummeted since 2008. Will the Ridgeline be next?
Kia Borrego, Rondo: Low vehicles sales were more than likely the driving force behind the cancellation of both vehicles this year. In addition, the body-on-frame Borrego, which launched in late 2008 as a 2009 model year vehicle, seemed to be a curious addition to the Kia lineup from the get-go, and its sales were so low that Kia halted plans for a 2010 model. And Rondo sales are but a quarter of their number in 2009. The automaker is showing a crossover concept at the upcoming Detroit show, the production version of which will probably serve as the replacement for both of these departing models.
Lexus SC: Beyond minor refreshes and the introduction of special edition models over the years, the quirky SC has been virtually unchanged since its inception. From the outset, it was much criticized for its looks, or lack thereof, and underwhelming drive. It surprised no one when the automaker announced it was discontinuing the model back in July. Interestingly, Toyota continues to be mum about the possible SC 600h replacement which may debut in 2014.
Lincoln Town Car/Ford Crown Victoria: The writing was on the wall when Ford announced in 2007 that it would be selling its full-size Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis/Lincoln Town Car trio to fleet sales only. With the official cancellation of the Mercury (see above) and Ford marketing the Taurus Interceptor to police fleets, look for the last of Ford’s Panther platform trio to be produced out sometime next year.
Mercury cars and SUVs: Founded in 1939 by Edsel Ford, son of Ford-founder Henry Ford, Mercury is no more. With most of its vehicles consisting of re-badged Fords, the marque struggled for years in the entry level-luxury niche, its relevance ever decreasing as its Ford siblings became even more luxurious while maintaining a lower price point. When Ford shut Mercury’s doors this year, the brand consisted of the Grand Marquis, Milan and Sable sedans and the Mariner and Mountaineer SUVs, none of which will be particularly missed.
Mitsubishi Raider: Continued dismal sales led Mitsubishi to cancel the Raider, a rebadged Dodge Dakota which had been on the market since 2005. The news does not bode well for the Dakota, itself the subject of an endless stream of rumors about its future.
Volvo V70: Volvo had been selling station wagons in the U.S. market back in the 50s. Thus, everyone was surprised when the Swedish automaker, recently acquired by the China’s Geely from Ford, that it would discontinue its V70 wagon for 2010. Volvo would continue to sell its smaller V50 wagon “at least” through the 2011 model year, stating it still sees a market for such vehicles in the U.S.