WHETHER IT WAS FICKLE BUYERS OR FICKLE MAKERS, THE END WAS THE SAME — THE DEATH OF AN ICONIC AUTOMOBILE
What’s in a name? In the car industry, a lot. Design and engineering are at the core of the industry, but you could argue that branding is just as important. Creating a name that buyers accept and identify with is a major undertaking.
Little wonder that carmakers hang on to those badges for so long. There’s a lot invested in them.
But nothing lasts forever and sometimes we just have to let old favourites go. Here are five familiar names that have departed in the last decade (mostly).
FALCON BY FORD
Too soon? The Falcon badge is still flying of course, on the just-launched FG X model. But it will be the first of the Australian cars to cease to be, with production ending in October 2016.
It’s relevant for two reasons. First, Falcon is easily the longest-running automotive nameplate in Australia and one of the most enduring car names in the world. It celebrated its half-century in 2010, which makes it 55 now.
Second, Ford Australia will lay the name to rest when its factory closes down. If it’s not made in Australia, it won’t be a Falcon.
Holden has taken a different tack and decided that the Commodore name will continue after the Australian model finishes in 2017 — but at just 37 years of age, it’s got some catching up to do.
FREELANDER BY LAND ROVER
Land Rover’s Freelander
The Discovery Sport is a fresh start for Land Rover, as it works on a master plan to create families of models around shared badges.
But the arrival of Discovery Sport also means the end of the Freelander name, which also represented a fresh start for Land Rover when it appeared back in 1997.
Freelander was Land Rover’s first crossover model, a response to the burgeoning compact SUV market created by the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
It became a top-seller in Europe and maintained brand credibility with far greater off-road ability than rival vehicles.
Discovery is now the name of the game.
Land Rover argues that Discovery Sport is not a direct replacement for Freelander because it’s bigger and more upmarket, but the newer model does take the old one’s production spot.
And, we would imagine, many of its potential buyers.
PRIMERA BY NISSAN
Nissan Primera was popular in New Zealand.
Remember the days when the default family car was a mid-sized four-door sedan?
Good times for the Nissan Primera, which was highly regarded and highly popular in New Zealand.
We started with the second-generation Primera, which replaced the Bluebird in 1997. The model went avant garde in its third generation from 2001, but as the decade progressed it fell victim to the rising popularity of SUVs. Nissan New Zealand eventually replaced it with the Qashqai crossover, a controversial but ultimately inspired move.
Primera fact: New Zealand was the last remaining export market for the British-built Primera as it wound down in 2006.
RODEO BY HOLDEN
A Colorado by another name, the Holden Rodeo
Ute buyers are a loyal bunch, so you don’t change the name of a popular one-tonne pickup truck without good reason.
The Holden Rodeo was a well-established model from 1980 until 2008, as the company gave the Isuzu-sourced model a more Australian identity.
It all went well for nearly three decades, until GM and Isuzu parted company in 2008; the Japanese maker exercised its prenuptial rights and took the Rodeo name with it in the divorce settlement.
Holden was able to continue with the same vehicle but the Rodeo badge disappeared. Colorado was the replacement name.
QUATTRO BY AUDI
The joker in the pack, but technically the Quattro badge was discontinued in 1991 when the last edition of Audi’s iconic coupe rolled off the assembly line.
Nerdy but true: after 1991 “quattro” ceased to be a proper noun in the Audi lexicon.
It’s now simply used to denote a model with the company’s signature four-wheel drive system.
It should never be written with a capital Q — unless you’re talking about that groundbreaking original, also known as the Ur-Quattro.