Rest In Peace: Cars We Lost For 2017

We lost a good number of vehicles after the 2016 model year, and here is a rundown of them.

Hilariously overpriced, this platform partner of the first-generation Chevrolet Volt launched not long after the all-electric Tesla Model S, but without the Tesla’s sporting credentials, the ELR, seemingly behind the times, was a plug-in hybrid that only attracted 2,863 U.S. buyers. There are months in which Tesla produces more Model S sales than that. I rightly predicted this would be a flop when I reviewed it.

“How important is this car to Chrysler?” 60 Minutes’ Steve Croft asked FCA boss Sergio Marchionne. “Um,” Marchionne said, “If you’re a serious carmaker and you can’t make it in this segment, you’re doomed.” By that standard, FCA is either not serious or FCA is doomed. The Dodge Dart is dead after attracting roughly 315,000 U.S. buyers through the end of 2016’s third-quarter, a 53-month period. American Honda sold 335,384 Civics last year.

To understand the degree to which the Viper was competing in a narrow niche within a niche sports car market, consider the Chevrolet Corvette. Fewer than 14,000 Vipers have been sold in America since 2002, a near 15-year span. Chevrolet sold nearly 15,000 Corvettes in the U.S. in the first six months of 2016. Dodge quickly sold its limited run of MY2017 Vipers this past summer.

A CR-X successor? Hardly. Not sufficiently efficient to adequately wear its hybrid tag, not widely perceived to be attractive, not terribly sporty, yet Honda still managed to sell 11,330 copies of the CR-Z in 2011, the CR-Zs first full year. CR-Z volume plunged 63 percent the following year and never recovered. Only 3,073 CR-Zs were sold in the U.S. last year, a period in which Hyundai sold 24,245 Velosters.

The Genesis Coupe is certain to return, but it won’t come back as a Hyundai. As part of the new Genesis brand’s expansion, this car’s “replacement” will come in the form of a higher-end coupe with a loftier price tag. Hyundai’s Genesis, coupe and sedan included, produced 240,000 sales between 2008 and the end of 2016’s third-quarter.

With the death of the Scion brand came the arrival of new Toyota models, but not the tC. The Scion FR-S becomes the Toyota 86, the Mazda 2-based Scion iA becomes the Toyota Yaris iA, and the Corolla-related Scion iM becomes the Toyota Corolla iM. Still, after it generated nearly 430,000 U.S. sales between 2004 and 2016 — and suffering a 79-percent loss in volume between 2006 and 2015 — the tC is not migrating to the Toyota department. It’s dead.

Along with its tC coupe sibling, the Scion xB dies after the 2016 model year. The first-generation xB continues to symbolize Scion at its best, but the replacement was deemed largely undesirable by the U.S. market. Nearly 170,000 xBs were sold during the four-year period between 2003 and 2006; only 226,000 in the nearly ten years since.

The Volkswagen Eos received a stay of execution from its U.S. overlords after the 2015 model year. There will be no such stay after the 2016 model year. The Eos is dead, having not generated a sale since May. All-time, Volkswagen of America reported 67,585 Eos sales, nearly 40 percent of which occurred in 2007 and 2008.

The Cadillac SRX was Cadillac’s best-selling model. So they killed it and reconstituted it. Repeal and replace is the term used in political circles. Although the first-generation three-row SRX wasn’t tremendously popular, Cadillac SRX sales jumped 152 percent in 2010 with the launch of a more mainstream crossover. Cadillac then proceeded to sell more than 50,000 SRXs per year in the U.S. until last year, when nearly 70,000 were sold. The XT5 began its takeover in April.

The Town & Country’s death was really just a generational reset. While its Dodge twin, the Grand Caravan, continues for the time being, the Town & Country was replaced by — strangely enough — the Pacifica, a nameplate previously used for an underwhelming crossover. The Town & Country was America’s best-selling minivan in 2014 as sales rose to a seven-year high.

Through the end of September, Hyundai had reported a measly 17,983 total Equus sales since the end of 2010. The Equus isn’t really dead; Hyundai just decided to release the next-generation model under an all-luxury brand strategy. The new Equus is the Genesis G90. U.S. sales of the G90 began in September.

Like its larger Equus sibling, the Genesis sedan didn’t wither on the vine. Hyundai has moved the Genesis to the Genesis brand. It’s now the G80, the first 2,698 copies of which were sold in August and September. The Hyundai Genesis fought partway through a second generation before Hyundai built on its relative success to launch a separate luxury brand.

U.S. sales of the Lincoln MKS were in a state of perpetual decline. After peaking in its first full year of 2009 with 17,174 sales, MKS volume decreased in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015, when Lincoln sold only 6,877 of this model. In a sense, the newest Lincoln is the direct replacement for the MKS, just with an old name we all know so well: Continental.

After a nearly two-decade run as Volvo’s flagship car across two generations, the Volvo S80 is done. In its place, Volvo has launched the S90, a sedan tasked with establishing Volvo in a segment where the S80 simply couldn’t compete. Volvo USA hasn’t sold S80s in five-digit numbers since 2008. Fewer than 2,000 were sold in each of the last three calendar years.

In fellowship with the launch of the S80-replacing Volvo S90, Volvo is also bringing to North America new wagons to replace the long-running XC70: the V90 and V90 Cross Country. Though something of a success in its younger years — Volvo sold nearly 20,000 XC70s in 2002 — Volvo has averaged little more than 5,000 annual U.S. XC70 sales in the last half-decade.

In the U.S., the Verano was Buick’s entry-level sedan, but as Buick migrates to a more crossover-centric lineup, importing the Chinese-built Envision from the country where Buick does the bulk of its business, the introduction of a second-generation Verano in North America was deemed pointless. Verano volume fell from more than 40,000 units in 2012, 2013, and 2014 to fewer than 32,000 in calendar year 2015. Expect a brief 2017 run, but no more.

A dreadful reliability reputation, criticism from its parent company’s boss regarding design errors, built-in discrimination against the marque’s car efforts: very little was working in the Chrysler 200’s favor when the car launched in 2014. After moving up the sales charts thanks to early incentives, the market’s true demand for the 200 was made known late last year and early this year when sales plunged by half between November and February, year-over-year. While its smaller Dodge Dart cousin fades away after 2016, expect some 2017 Chrysler 200s before FCA euthanizes America’s former best-selling FCA passenger car.

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