How many car
brands have died-off over the past ten years? How many will die
off during the next ten?
Among the dearly
departed: Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Daewoo,
Isuzu, Saab, Plymouth.
nine. Which is a lot.
There are still
arguably too many contenders for too few buyers. Hair-thin profit
margins for a product that requires major investments of capital
to R&D, market and bring successfully to market. Increasingly
onerous, expensive-to-comply-with government mandates such
as the soon-to-be-in-force 35.5 MPG mandate Obama, et al, crammed
down the industrys throat.
much tougher to make a buck selling cars.
Here are some
likely dead pool contenders and some thoughts as to why they
may not make it:
There are some
dark clouds gathering above the sign of the triple diamond. Not
one new model is on deck for 2013. Everythings a carryover.
model the iMiEV electric car has barely registered
its presence. Partially because its not yet available in all
50 states and probably also because its maximum range under
ideal conditions is only about 60-75 miles. For many otherwise-interested
buyers, thats cutting it too close. A safety recall this summer
for defective airbag sensors hasnt helped.
Eclipse sports car has been eclipsed by the passage of time
and allowed to die on the vine. It hasnt been significantly
updated (mechanically, as opposed to minor cosmetic tweaks)
since 2006. The current model is thus pushing seven years old. Production
of this car actually ended mid-year, with no apparent replacement
Lancer sedan also dates back to prehistoric times, automotively
speaking: 2008. It wont be significantly updated for 2013,
every competitor model is either all-new or significantly updated
leaving the Lancer looking (and feeling) like yesterdays
EVO version of the Lancer which just a couple of years ago
was considered one of the hottest cars on the market has
likewise become long in the tooth. The current EVO is five years
old now. A lifetime in a market where three-year product cycles
are becoming routine. The high-performing but also highly thirsty
(17 city) cars future is also threatened by the 35.5 MPG fuel
efficiency edict that goes into effect in 2016.
launched an all-new (and 34 MPG-capable) Impreza last year.
And, of course, theres the new BRZ
The 2013 Outlander
is the same as the 2012 Outlander. Which was the same as the 2011
And the 2010.
A reboot is
but not before late 2013 as an early 2014
model. Can Mitsubishi afford to wait that long?
The truly ancient
and slow-selling Galant is also being retired after
this year. It has been the same for eight years.
A cursory look
at Mitsubishis recent sales figures shows some truly titanic
declines: Down 40.1 percent in June 2012 vs. June 2011; total exports
from Japan to all overseas markets down 34.1 percent. Total passenger
car production for the first six months of 2012 down 10.2 percent.
The one bright
blip on the radar screen has been sales of the Outlander Sport
the only new or at least, recent model in the
Mistubishi lineup, other than the MiEV electric car. In September,
sales of this model (its different from the regular Outlander)
were up 49 percent, with 2,253 sold. However, the bleak fact remains
that Mitsubishis overall sales were down 17.2 percent for
September. August was even worse: 46.8 percent. July: Down 47.4
percent. (See here for more.)
Such a nose-down
trajectory can only end up one way: in a sleeps-with-the-fishes
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[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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