The new cars that have quietly disappeared in 2017
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Each year hundreds of stories are written about new car launches. But not very much is said about the cars that quietly disappear from the market.
Recently there’s been some notable farewells. Not existing models replaced by a new generation — sometimes with a new name that seeks to rekindle interest — but cars that simply vanish for new car showrooms and brand websites.
The most recent example is the Mitsubishi Lancer. After a 10-year run in the New Zealand market, with multiple front-end facelifts and end-of-life price reductions, the final Lancer generation is bowing out with a limited edition.
The Lancer name dates back to 1975 in New Zealand and there’s no direct replacement. Mitsubishi Motors NZ is pinning its hopes on the ASX and new Eclipse Cross high-riders as the market continues to trend toward small and medium size SUVs.
Lancer’s farewell follows much earlier departures for Mitsubishi’s larger Galant and Diamante models. That means the Mitsubishi product range now consists of SUVs and light commercials with the single exception of the Mirage light car.
It’s a similar story at Nissan dealerships. Early 2017 departures included the Altima and Pulsar car lines and there is no confirmed plan to bring the new Micra to New Zealand. Currently Nissan’s car line-up is solely performance focused with the 370Z and GT-R sports cars on sale alongside an SUV roster comprising Juke, Qashqai, X-Trail, Pathfinder and Patrol.
Holden has been building its model line-up in recent years but there’s been one casualty among the newcomers with the Malibu mid-size sedan being quietly dropped earlier this year.
The end of the road for the Malibu is the latest thinning of the mid-size sedan ranks with the Suzuki Kizashi, Honda Accord Euro and Nissan Primera being much earlier casualties.
The theme continues among the Euro brands. Further evidence of the shift from mid-size cars into SUVs was the Volkswagen Passat sedan being dropped from the New Zealand market mid-2017.
While Passat wagon remains available the four-door has been deleted and its replacement is the four-door coupe style Arteon in a premium R-Line specification. Likewise the Peugeot 508 is only available to a customer order.
The mid-size car segment has been in sharp decline. In 2013 medium car sales totalled 7852 units to be 7 per cent of a total vehicle market that was 113,177 units. In the first 11 months of this year mid-size car volume is 5135 units and just 3 per cent of a total market heading towards 160,000 units.
The closure of the Australian car manufacturing industry brought the end of the Ford Falcon and Territory nameplates and while Ford is in the process of bolstering its SUV choices there’s speculation the Fiesta small car could be phased out with the new generation model not yet confirmed for Australia and New Zealand.
Another model name to disappear with the end of Australian car manufacturing is the Toyota Aurion. However there will be V6 engine versions of the new generation Japan-built eighth generation Camry when it launches in early 2018.
Sometimes its engine choices rather than models that are dropped. One of the most recent product actions from Toyota is to drop the V6 petrol versions of the Hilux and Land Cruiser Prado. And in the passenger segment Mazda ditched the SP22 diesel Mazda3 model last year and the diesel engine versions of the CX-3 earlier this year.
Occasionally vehicles disappear from the showrooms and then make a return. After a re-engineering exercise to meet modern safety standards the Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series workhorse became available again in New Zealand from late-2016.