Out with the old, in with the new. Here are a half-dozen prime examples of what’s no longer hot in the American automobile market for 2017.
Should old acquaintance be forgot… In the auto industry, the only real constant is change, they like to say. When cars no longer make their sales numbers or otherwise meet their market objectives, out they go, kicked to the curb. We chose these six vehicles as solid examples of where the American auto market is headed in 2017—or more precisely, where it’s not headed.
The Dodge Dart, built for the USA on a Fiat global platform shared with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, was a big deal for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles when it debuted in the spring of 2012. But the compact sedan’s introduction was botched by the lack of a proper automatic transmission, and over five years of production, sales fell far short of the target. Early in 2016, FCA announced that the Dart (and the intermediate-sized Chrysler 200 sedan, too) would be dropped so that production could be focused on pickups, SUVs, and crossovers, a move seen as mainly in response to falling gasoline prices. This leaves the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Charger and Challenger as the only conventional passenger cars in Chrysler’s domestic lineup.
The MKS sedan has some seniority in the U.S. car biz, having joined the Lincoln division’s lineup in model year 2009. Sharing its D3 platform with numerous products including the Volvo S80 and the Ford Fusion, the MKS was distinguished mainly by its striking waterfall grille. Critics found the V6 sedan not luxurious enough, not Lincoln enough, to justify its price or its place in the lineup, and annual sales bumped along at around the 15,000 mark. For 2017, the MKS has been replaced by all-new four-door bearing the Continental badge.
The Buick Verano is, in part, another victim of falling gasoline prices. A compact sedan launched in 2012, it was based on GM’s Delta II architecture also used by the Chevy Cruze and Opel Zafira MPV. With 2.4-liter Ecotec power, it was probably everything a small Buick should be, but sales peaked in 2013, then tumbled right along with gas prices. There will be a second-generation Verano in 2018, GM reports, but it will be for the China market only. Crossovers and SUVs will now bulk up Buick’s sales volume in the USA, though the Verano will be available here in limited numbers through 2017.
The Dodge Viper has been wavering in and out of existence for some years now. Cancelled in 2010, the raw-boned beast returned in 2013 as part of the make-believe SRT division for a year, then rejoined the Dodge lineup. In its current tune, the Viper V10 produces a whopping 640 hp, but the showroom numbers have always been less impressive. Sales peaked in 2004 at just over 3,000 units. Still brutally quick and delightfully unrefined, the Viper will be offered in 2017 in one final run of around 500 cars. And that will be the end. For now, at least.
With its stunning good looks and equally shocking $76,000 list price, the Cadillac ELR was in essence a two-seat luxury coupe version of the Chevy Volt, GM’s extended-range electric sedan. That is, it was the answer to a question not many car buyers were asking. Two-place coupes are a pretty narrow niche segment anyway, and despite a price cut and performance improvements, the ELR sold only 2,800 units between 2014 and April of 2016, when GM officially pulled the plug.
Though it was never a world-beater in sales volume, the Volvo S80 has had some legs in North America. The first-generation version dates back to 1999, and the current second-gen model appeared in MY 2007. Not so much a competitor as an alternative to the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, the S80 has seen its sales volume fall dramatically in recent years, into the low four figures. Its replacement, the sleek and up-to-date S90, was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January.