24/7 Wall St.
10 Disappearing Car Brands
The automobile is at once a symbol of American ingenuity and personal freedom as well as an indispensable tool for tens of millions of Americans. When it comes to choosing the right car, American consumers can be picky. Subject to ever-changing market forces, major automakers both foreign and domestic are often forced to retire certain models, even those that were once immensely popular.
To determine America’s 10 disappearing car brands, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed discontinued vehicle models retired in 2016 provided by automotive research company Kelley Blue Book.
Most of the vehicles on this list the Dodge Dart, for example are less than 10 years old, and never succeeded in establishing an adequate market. Others, like the Chrysler Town Country, have been a familiar sight on American roadways for decades.
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Jack Nerad, executive editorial director at Kelley Blue Book, laid out the primary reasons a company might choose to retire a particular model. According to Nerad, each vehicle on this list was likely being neglected by its manufacturer, and was falling victim to changing market conditions.
Simply put, these vehicles were not in high enough demand and not worth the time and money to improve, Nerad said.
Half of the cars on this list are made by American manufacturers. According to Nerad, American automakers are often “more willing to change nameplates or change model names than imports are.”
American manufacturers may also be more willing to recycle old names. For example, Lincoln pulled the MKS from production last year, promptly replacing it with the Continental a nameplate that itself was once retired in 2002. Similarly, the Chrysler Town Country, another vehicle on this list, will be replaced this year by the Pacifica, a name Chrysler last used in 2008.
Of course, American automakers would not be discontinuing models if these vehicles were selling. These companies are not afraid to cut a failing product. “If they have a model [or] model name that is resonating with the public, they re pretty likely to keep it,” Nerad said.
Perhaps the most notable among the disappearing brands is the termination of the entire Scion brand. A Toyota spinoff, Scion was intended to reach the younger driver market as the Toyota name historically had little appeal with younger drivers. During the brand’s nearly two decade long existence, however, tastes among younger drivers changed.
According to Nerad, Toyota “could not figure out how to make that particular brand live.” He added, “maybe it had just outlived its usefulness.” The sport compact Scion tC retired with the 2016 model year as did the entire Scion brand.
Cars are one of the most expensive purchases most Americans will ever make, and competing for that business is not always easy. For Nerad, the pattern of discontinuing vehicle models reflects the nature of the auto industry. “[This] list indicates just how hotly competitive and how very transitory this industry is.”