How Automakers Decide Which Cars to Kill

The Chrysler 200, Dodge Viper, Jeep Patriot, and Nissan Quest were just four of the 15 models that won’t find their way back in American showrooms in 2018. So, what makes manufacturers take a car that once sounded like a great idea and eliminate it altogether? A number of factors go into the decision to ax a model, but whether it’s for better or worse, it’s the normal lifecycle of many vehicles. Here’s a look at how companies choose to keep or remove a model and whether you should consider one for your next vehicle.

Sluggish Sales

Discontinued Cars World Of Wheels

Image via Flickr by Seluryar

One of the biggest reasons that automakers decide to cut certain models is because of slowing sales. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the car has terrible sales — only that it shows a steady decline in sales numbers over the life of the vehicle. Instead of watching the numbers continue to deteriorate, manufacturers have options to develop a new generation of the car, refresh it, or discontinue it. Some models get a total rehash. Others disappear in the rearview.

Niche Cars

In 2017, Dodge rang in the 25th anniversary of the Viper by announcing that it would be its final year of production. Despite its beauty, prowess, and the admiration of the masses, the Viper was a niche car, selling only a few thousand models per year. Despite the hefty price tag of the Viper, the small quantities sold didn’t offset the massive production costs to craft each one. While the Viper remains a favorite, it wasn’t cost-feasible to continue production.

Changing Trends

Fifteen years ago, you probably wouldn’t have known what a crossover is. This term for a smaller vehicle with the versatility of both an SUV and a sedan wasn’t on the radar of automakers until the early to mid-2000s, and before then, no such product existed.

For example, full-size SUVs such as the Nissan Xterra went by the wayside in favor of smaller SUVs and crossovers such as the Nissan Juke and Rogue. It wasn’t that the Xterra was slumping in sales, ugly, or anything else. It was just the odd man out in a lineup change designed to compete with other companies and meet the ever-changing needs of consumers.


Another reason that cars disappear from an automaker’s lineup is less confusing. In some instances, the car is simply renamed. This is common for many luxury vehicles, such as the Infiniti G37, which became the Q60 overnight. This is a rarer scenario, but one that you should remain vigilant of when you’re researching cars.

Pros and Cons of Buying Discontinued Cars

Discontinued cars are one of the best value buys you’ll ever find, especially if the last model year is still in showrooms. By knowing that the item is being axed, you can often save thousands off the sticker price. Unfortunately, discontinued vehicles also have some drawbacks. Resale value is always a wild card, as models may have a cult following or become largely forgotten. Parts can also become harder to find the further away you get from the model year.

Before you decide that the discounted price on a discontinued car is worth the purchase, always research the potential pitfalls of the model, and whether or not it’s a good fit for what you need.