I wrote a post the other day defending the Toybaru twins, and touched on the issue of enthusiasts asking auto manufacturers to build us cars, but then not buying them. This has happened to a few cars I can think of. Automakers could write us off as ungrateful bastards, but I don't think they've always delivered on what we've been asking for (back-stabbing penny-pinchers!)
1) The Toybaru Twins
We asked. They delivered. We're buying, but not in the quantities they'd hoped for. So what went wrong here?
Well for one, many seem to think such a brilliant chassis needs more power to show it off. I'm not going to dispute that here, I've already done a whole post dedicated to it, but let's just say a lot of people claim that's what's holding them back from buying one.
Another issue may be the price. All things said and done, I think the twins came out to be a little more expensive than initially intended by Toyota (and what many of us were hoping for).
There's also some talk about a lack of practicality. Those people just need to buy themselves a hot hatch and shut their pie holes.
Would it have sold better with these issues addressed? If you address everything everyone seems to be asking for on the forums/blogs, you'd probably end up with a GTI. More power would mean it would cost more. This means it would morph into a 370Z competitor. Given that Mazda and Honda have exited that part of the market (RX8 and S2K), maybe that's not a bad place to be. What if the Toybaru was cheaper? I think this is a more valid point that would actually help shift numbers. What was Toyota's original goal again, $19k? Mmmm...
2) Acura TSX Sport Wagon (US market only)
The interwebz erupted like Ukraine when the Honda Accord (we can still call it an Accord right?) CrossTour was unveiled on Facebook. Why? Prototypes of the car had been seen around the US testing with a USDM front-end and a European-market wagon body. Us enthusiasts wanted a sexy wagon, not a jacked-up Panamera. Honda took this into account, and gave the Americans the TSX Sport Wagon. Did it sell? Not that I've heard, but this one seems to be Honda's fault.
First off, if you're going to add utility to a vehicle you probably want to offer more than the base engine. After all, you want to haul things, including ass (especially if this is a car targeted at enthusiasts). More to the point of it being a car requested but enthusiasts, where did the third pedal go? Somehow it seems it must've fallen out when they were installing the Acura beak, and no one bothered putting it back.
Would it have sold if these points were addressed? Maybe if it was available in brown with a turbo. No, but really, how many other wagons in this segment are there? The A4 Avant is only available as an Allroad, BMW is looking for any excuse to kill the 3-series wagon in the US (I'm looking at you 3-series GT), and Volvo only introduced the V60 AFTER its mid-cycle facelift. There's no market for this kind of car, and maybe Acura could've sold a handful more with a more "enthusiast-spec" model available. Maybe if they raised it, and offered AWD it could've worked, but then we would've bitched about that. Mainly, it needed to be sold in brown.
3) Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
Ah yes, the motoring journalist special. Who bought this car other than Doug DeMuro? No many it seems. I have a friend that's pining to get his hands on one as his daily, but the rest of the world is oblivious to it.
Did Cadillac do anything wrong? Big power? Check. Manual transmission? Check. Available wagon body style? Check. It might not be available in brown, but other than Cadillac had its bases covered. So why does no one have one?
Simple, much like the Acura above, this is a very narrow space in the market. In the US, no one wants a wagon (let alone one on steroids). In Europe, no one wants a Cadillac. And in the rest of the world, well, I don't recall it being sold in most of the rest of the world.
4) Nissan Cube
Okay, you may not want one. But back when the 2nd gen model was the coolest thing in Japan, and I was in high-school frequenting forums, everyone wanted one. International motoring journos couldn't keep their mouths shut about it either. So then Nissan comes along, creates a third-gen model, announces it'll be sold globally, and what happens? We all buy Jukes, Qashqais, and Rogues instead.
What went wrong? Styling. The second-gen Cube was a design icon. They'll have them in museums someday (I swear). It was the automotive world's equivalent of the original iPod. Shiny, white, and a case study in modern, minimalist design. The third-gen model ended-up looking someone melted the old one while hot-weather testing it for foreign markets, and then okayed it to go on sale.
As with all fashionable vehicles, the Cube had a shelf life. It went past its sell-by date, and Nissan was unable to reinvent in a way that would make it cool again.
So are we just not buying the cars we want when brands build them for us, or are they screwing things up on the way? I'd argue it's a bit of both to be honest, but there's a bigger issue at play. We simply aren't big enough of a consumer group, at least not on the affordable-ish end of things. Companies like Honda simply can't justify investing billions into building cars for all five of us that are flaming them on the internet.
Can you think of any other cars that suffered similar fates? I'm sure the V60 will go down the same road in the US that it has in the Middle East (it was only offered for the first year of sales, they literally sold like two). Post them in the comments below if you can. I get all excited about brown station wagons.