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Thursday 17 August 2017
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Cars We Said Goodbye To In 2014      

Cars We Said Goodbye To In 2014      

Last year was extremely good for the American car industry. Sales of light vehicles rose by 5.9% to more than 16.5 million on the back of low gas prices, consumer-friendly interest rates, and an improving domestic economy.

However,  2014 was not a banner year for all.  Nine models were discontinued in 2014. Four of these models were manufactured by one of Honda Motor Company’s brands, Acura or Honda. Other brands that cut at least one model from their lineups were Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Dodge, Nissan, Scion, and Toyota.

For the most part, the discontinued models were hardly big names. As of 2013 — the last time that these now discontinued cars were updated for the newest model year — only one sold more than 25,000 vehicles. By comparison, top-selling car models such as the Toyota Camry usually record annual totals well into the hundreds of thousands. Four of the nine models on the discontinued car list recorded less than 10,000 cars sold in 2013.

In some cases, cars were discontinued by their manufacturer in order to promote a more focused lineup of cars and eliminate cannibalization of sales. According to Michael Cooperman, director of communications for TrueCar, “product strategy has dictated a lot of the changes.” He cited the Acura TL and TSX as examples, which were both phased out to make way for the new TLX. The Dodge Avenger was also eliminated by Dodge’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, in an effort to consolidate its critical midsize sedan offerings into a single model, the redesigned Chrysler 200. Cooperman added that the 200 was a better product, and thus more competitive, in the midsize segment.

In some instances, the discontinued cars were only ever a niche product. The Toyota FJ Cruiser, for example, was intended to appeal to drivers who enjoy off-roading and featured a unique retro look. The Nissan Cube, too, was meant to evoke a lounge atmosphere, according to the company’s own press materials, and it featured odd design features such as an asymmetric back window.

Two hybrids were also discontinued in 2014, the Honda Insight and Acura ILX Hybrid.

Without further ado, here are the cars that disappeared in 2014:

1. Dodge Avenger

Last year marked the final year for the Dodge Avenger, the single most popular vehicle by sales to be discontinued in 2014. The fact that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was phasing out the Avenger was hardly a surprise — the move had been prearranged years in advance. The decision to cut the model, which had total sales of 93,842 units in 2013, could prove to be prudent. In discontinuing the Avenger, the carmaker has been able to focus on promoting the redesigned Chrysler 200, concentrating its offerings into a single, more competitive vehicle in the critical mid-size sedan market.

2. Acura TL

The Acura TL is one of two models the carmaker is phasing out as it consolidates its sedan offerings. Sales of the TL were not especially bad in 2013, when Acura sold more than 24,000 units. However, following the introduction of the TLX, the model that is replacing the TL, sales dropped to just 10,616 units in 2014. In December, with the TL about to disappear for good, Acura dealers sold just 76 units. Acura says on its website of the now-retired TL: “While you won’t see them in showrooms any longer, you will see them on the road for many years to come.”

3. Acura TSX

The TSX is the second Acura model being replaced by the TLX. Karl Brauer, automotive analyst and editor at Kelley Blue Book, wrote in Forbes last year, “After nearly a decade of sedan duds Acura desperately needs the TLX to succeed.” The TSX was hardly a strong seller before being phased out. Sales totaled 17,484 units in 2013 before dropping 64% last year. In December, TSX sales totaled just 17 vehicles.

4. Toyota FJ Cruiser

Toyota is the world’s largest automaker by sales. It also makes a number of the nation’s most popular cars, including the Camry, Corolla, and RAV4. The FJ Cruiser, however, was not among the company’s top sellers. The model, which the company says “was developed as a basic, capable and affordable off-roader aimed specifically at serious off-roaders looking to push the limits,” featured a retro look inspired by the company’s Land Cruiser FJ40, a 1960s model. However, the FJ Cruiser was something of a niche product, selling fewer than 15,000 vehicles in 2014.

5. Chrysler 200 Convertible

When Chrysler released its 200 for the 2015 model year, it chose to discontinue the model’s convertible version to focus on the 200 sedan. The Chrysler 200 represents Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ major push into the highly competitive — and lucrative — mid-size car segment. However, sales of the 200 stumbled in 2014, falling 4% to 117,363 vehicles. The model still has a way to go to catch up to the segment’s biggest players: Last year, Toyota sold more than 428,000 Camrys and Honda Accord sales topped 388,000 units.

6. Scion xD

Rumors of the demise of various Scion models have been around for years. Last July, Automotive News wrote that Scion could replace its xB and kill off its xD model and suggested that readers “expect euthanasia by the end of 2014” for the Scion iQ. According to Nancy Hubbell, communications manager for Scion, “There is no 2015 xD and we are selling down our 2014 vehicles. We haven’t made any announcements on the discontinuation of other Scion models.” However, other models may still be on the chopping block considering that Scion, which has struggled to build out a market for its cars, recently announced it would launch three new models in the coming years.

7. Nissan Cube

When Nissan unveiled its car lineup for the 2015 model year, the Cube was omitted, quietly signaling the end of one of America’s most unconventional cars. The Cube takes its name from its box-like shape. It features both an asymmetrical rear window that wraps around the right side of the car as well as, what Nissan calls, a “refrigerator-style rear door.” However, the death of the model is unlikely to hurt Nissan too badly. The automaker sold just 5,461 units in 2013 and just 3,785 last year, hardly significant for a manufacturer with almost 1.4 million cars sold in the United States in 2014.

8. Honda Insight

Last year, Honda opted to end production of the Insight, a relatively weak-selling hybrid that competed against the better-selling Toyota Prius. Insight sales totaled 4,802 units in 2013 and 3,965 units in 2014, versus Prius sales of 234,228 units and 207,372 units during those same years. However, there may still be a future for the Insight. Honda killed off the model before, in 2006, only to bring it back a few years later. One problem for the Insight may be the recent drop in gas prices, which could convince many car buyers to reconsider buying a more expensive hybrid, and may halt any plans to bring the brand back again.

9. Acura ILX Hybrid

Last July, Acura told Autoblog that it would discontinue the ILX Hybrid in the United States. Acura said to the publication, “We are streamlining the ILX lineup to better align with customer demand.” Demand for the car was quite poor in recent years. Acura sold fewer than 1,500 ILX Hybrids in 2013, a figure that dropped to just 379 last year. Sales of the Honda Civic Hybrid, on which the ILX is based, were somewhat better, at more than 7,700 units and more than 5,000 units in the preceding two years, respectively. However, hybrid sales for both models were still paltry when compared to total sales for non-hybrid versions of each model.

Photo Credit: Acura, Honda, Dodge, Chrysler, Scion, Toyota, Nissan