April 29, 2008

Why do American car companies change the name of their car models so much?

With only a few exceptions, it is very noticeable that the names for American cars change rather consistently. Call it American ideology and lust for something “new” or whatever, the reality is that a name or even an entire model of a car lasts for minuscule amounts of time among the “big 3” auto makers in this nation. Whereas foreign companies will keep a model around for decades, (i.e. Corolla, Civic, Accord, Tacoma, Legacy, Forester, etc.) American companies have this consistent tendency to change a model name of a car about every 6 years. This seems strange at first because it negates the opportunity for brand recognition within a manufacturer reputation. So for the foreign companies that keep car names around the longest, they are creating cult followings for not only their company as a whole but also for vehicles within their fleet. One example of this is Subaru. Recently, Subaru completely redesigned the Forester. A car that once was a boxier version of the Outback wagon and gave a sort of sporty SUV feel to the station wagon genre has now become similar to a Ford Explorer. And despite a complete overhaul it maintained the same name as previous. Why? Because people identify quality, safety and economy with the Forester name so there is no reason for Subaru to give that away and have to spend tons of money convincing people that this car should have the reputation of the Forester. Rather they can avoid all of that with simply keeping the Forester name.

However, you just don’t typically see this inside of American auto sales. A mirror change and some rounded bumpers constitute a name change for a number of vehicles in America. Why? Because most of those vehicles that have constant name changes aren’t worthy of name brand recognition and if they did carry a long lived legacy, it would be a bad one. In other words, those cars gain a reputation for sucking. So rather than actually make a good vehicle what do the genius American car companies do? Change the name!!!!! “Discover the all new _______” they say, as if to try and convince you that this vehicle with a different name is much better than its predecessor. To put it plainly, nothing bad is worth keeping. When a car develops a bad name, Ford, GM and Dodge just change the bad name and start over with a fresh one. Same car, new name, and six years later their stock is right back where it was.

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