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One is such a lonely number...
March 20, 2009 9:19 AM   Subscribe

What do the following cars have in common? The Chrysler Neon. The Daihatsu Charade. The Dodge Viper SRT-10. The Ferrari SuperAmerica. The Fiat Croma. The Hummer H2. The Hyundai Terracan. The Hyundai Trajet. The Rover 75. The CityRover. The Smart Cabrio. The Tata Safari. Give up? Each one of the cars listed above sold exactly one new (as in, not previously registered) unit last year in the UK, according to the Daily Telegraph. This makes them the most exclusive cars of 2008.
posted by clevershark (62 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Neon doesn't seem like a fair addition, if it was discontinued in 2006.
posted by jeffmik at 9:22 AM on March 20, 2009


Strange. The Daihatsu Charade is one of the most popular models here in Israel.
posted by Silky Slim at 9:26 AM on March 20, 2009


exclusive or excluded?
posted by fuzzypantalones at 9:26 AM on March 20, 2009


I was surprised to see this too. Apparently there's a (tiny) market in the UK for cars that are no longer produced but went unsold (also the case for the Rover 75).
posted by clevershark at 9:26 AM on March 20, 2009


BTW, the Rover and Smart Cabrio have also been discontinued. (just off the top of my head)
posted by Silky Slim at 9:27 AM on March 20, 2009


Ta-ta Safari? Really? How is this not a porn series title?
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:27 AM on March 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


And the Rover 75 was discontinued in 2005.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:28 AM on March 20, 2009


easier: four wheels.
posted by krautland at 9:32 AM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


How did they even fit a Hummer into the UK, let alone sell one?
posted by DU at 9:36 AM on March 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I bet that Neon owner is the envy of his/her block.
posted by 2sheets at 9:43 AM on March 20, 2009


I bet that Neon owner is the envy of his/her block.
...Until they go for a ride in it.
posted by howling fantods at 9:49 AM on March 20, 2009


I love Smart cars and would consider one should I ever need a small commuter, but whenever I see a Smart Cabrio I can't help but feel that its driver is actively taunting death.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:59 AM on March 20, 2009


DU: Jeremy Clarkson attempts to drive a Hummer through a narrow street.
posted by Electric Dragon at 10:03 AM on March 20, 2009


Exclusive, or "The cars that nobody wants" (as the Telegraph article is titled). One man's bucket of bolts is another man's exclusive commodity.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:05 AM on March 20, 2009


Some of these probably were imported by Top Gear. Or Ali G.
posted by Challahtronix at 10:06 AM on March 20, 2009


Electric Dragon: He also adored the Hummer H2. Because he's a twat.
posted by gc at 10:08 AM on March 20, 2009


Having moved to the UK, I find it really interesting how my standards have switched. Here an Audi TT now seems like a pretty big car to me. Back in Canada it was a small sports car.
posted by srboisvert at 10:10 AM on March 20, 2009


Having moved to the UK, I find it really interesting how my standards have switched.

It's the same the other way: in the US my Focus is considered a small car, but how I miss the little Ka I had in the UK. It still beats me that Ford didn't bring some of their smaller European models to the US when gas prices sky-rocketed; they could have made a killing and also have set the US markets a little further down the road to accepting small, fuel-efficient cars.

*grumble*
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:32 AM on March 20, 2009


It still beats me that Ford didn't bring some of their smaller European models to the US when gas prices sky-rocketed; they could have made a killing and also have set the US markets a little further down the road to accepting small, fuel-efficient cars.
Those high gas prices lasted less than a year, hardly enough time for Americans to embrace those tiny micro-cars common in the UK. I remember requesting a mid-size car the last time I rented one in England and was given a Ford Escort. Just barely enough room for three people plus luggage (the backseat passenger had to hold a suitcase in his lap). Small cars like that appeal to single folks in the US, but they're impractical for families. Ford would not have made a killing.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:39 AM on March 20, 2009


I wasn't unpopular in high school, I was just very exclusive.
posted by ScotchRox at 10:43 AM on March 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Small cars like that appeal to single folks in the US, but they're impractical for families.

With respect: that's just cultural norms speaking. Millions of UK families find such cars entirely practical for everyday use.

It's probably more common in the UK to use roof-racks etc for hauling luggage, though; I remember family camping holidays in a Renault 5 with a full load on the roof.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:47 AM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, the Fiat Croma has changed a lot over the past decade or so. The Saab 9000-based Turbo Diesel of the early 90s was a blast to drive, if unrefined. That new-ish one doesn't look like it would be nearly as much fun.
posted by The World Famous at 10:49 AM on March 20, 2009


Oh, and I find this comment on the linked article amusing:
I LIVE IN CANADA AND A NEW JEEP COMMANDER IS LESS THAN THE EQUIVERLENT OF 17K GBP
OMG CONSUMER GOODS COST MORE IN THE UK STOP THE PRESSES
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:49 AM on March 20, 2009


It still beats me that Ford didn't bring some of their smaller European models to the US when gas prices sky-rocketed; they could have made a killing and also have set the US markets a little further down the road to accepting small, fuel-efficient cars.

If we sold gas by the liter in the states and had much higher taxes on fuels of all kinds, then there would be more efficient vehicles.

Re: the cars. City Rover was cheap, but it had good mileage. I fully expected Solihull to get taken over by Daihatsu to keep making them. I wonder if SAIC is still planning on making MGs in Oklahoma.
posted by parmanparman at 10:51 AM on March 20, 2009


I drove a used 1996 Neon for a while... It turns out that the automatic transmission lines all leak (it started to drink a container of tranny fluid a week), and all the seals started leaking, and then some sort of belt got all wet from that and snapped and then the valves basically exploded and that was that.

Good gas mileage, though.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:54 AM on March 20, 2009


It still beats me that Ford didn't bring some of their smaller European models to the US when gas prices sky-rocketed; they could have made a killing and also have set the US markets a little further down the road to accepting small, fuel-efficient cars.

The profit margins on smaller cars are relatively slim. For example, the Honda Fit is the best-selling car in Japan right now, and this poses a real problem for Honda.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:55 AM on March 20, 2009


Lest people unleash the hate on Ford, whatever they've done in the past they are now frantically trying to get various Euro-models on sale here in the US. These ships turn slowly, however, and significantly different safety and environmental regulations don't help. It's not just a matter of putting a bunch of cars on a ship and then wheeling them into your neighborhood showroom.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 11:11 AM on March 20, 2009


I remember when the Viper first came out, my local Dodge dealer was ecstatic to score one to sell. People came by the dealership just to see it. They had hotdogs and ballons.

4 years later it was still sitting, as a "new model' on the showroom floor with 1 mile on the odometer.

I think eventually the dealer just took it as a personal car.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:35 AM on March 20, 2009


> Small cars like that appeal to single folks in the US, but they're impractical for families. Ford would not have made a killing.

Actually, those "small" cars are practical, it is just people are shopping for the car that fits the 5% of usage instead of 95%.

I have Jetta, a car that easily fits 5 people and their stuff in the truck. I have driven 27,000 miles in it. Probably only 300 miles with ALL FIVE PEOPLE in it, if even that. (I got the car for another reason that had value for me: Diesel engine that could run on biodiesel).

How many times are folks going to cram 3 people + luggage into an escort and go on a road trip vs just be the one guy driving the car to or from work? Instead you see folks go and buy an escort, and then get a roof rack for that 1% of the time they need to stick 4 people + luggage in the car.

As consumers, the US market is geared entirely towards purchasing items that allow us to fantasize about the potential of living the life we want to live, without us ever having to actually risk such endeavors. Keeping those thing a fantasy is a part of what motivates the marketers and resellers. Once you've actually gone real offroading, or road tripping, or whatever, you find out the difference between what marketers tell you what you need and what you actually end up using.

At the peak of the SUV craze, I witnessed mothers picking up kids from the dayschool my mom works at in Landrovers that had snorkles on them. For all those river crossing they were going to have to do on the way home through back country greenwich, ct.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:49 AM on March 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


I made a bet I would not have to scroll down to see a joke about the "Tata Safari." nebulawindphone owes me one of these.
posted by nanojath at 12:05 PM on March 20, 2009


Daihatsu "Charade?" That's a travesty of a name for a car.
posted by googly at 12:05 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought Toyota Carina and Chevrolet Captiva sounded pretty bad.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:13 PM on March 20, 2009


Ford Probe is still the worst name for a car AFAIK.
posted by clevershark at 12:28 PM on March 20, 2009


How many times are folks going to cram 3 people + luggage into an escort and go on a road trip vs just be the one guy driving the car to or from work?
That's my point. The average American family with two kids needs enough space for four passengers, plus assorted baggage, whether it be equipment for the soccer/hockey/softball game, or traditional backpack every school kid seems to carry, or hauling a week's worth of groceries home. The tiny Escort we were given in the UK would never work for an average two-child family.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:05 PM on March 20, 2009


Oriole- the same standard issue american family is supposed to have two cars, correct? What you are describing is primarily the tasks for the stay at home parent. In that case, a slightly bigger four door / station wagon would be adequate, and the commuter/driver/office worker parent has an escort/mondeo/smart/what have you.

The point I am trying to make is there is a market for small cars (even for families!) in the US, it is just that people seem to be making a cascading choice of assumptions of what they MUST HAVE in a vehicle when in fact it turns out they really don't, and they are paying way more for more stuff that they wont have any use for.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:37 PM on March 20, 2009


This is confusing. Do you think that in the UK families make the kids run alongside the car, schoolbags and football boots trailing in the slipstream, so they can fit the shopping in?

As We Had A Deal, Kyle said, this is a cultural norms thing.
posted by reynir at 1:39 PM on March 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


The tiny Escort we were given in the UK would never work for an average two-child family.

And yet that Escort does work for the average two-child UK family; and is in fact not considered particularly tiny.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:12 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know they have things called trunks where you can put all that equipment / backpack / groceries you seem to want to lug around. I'm always amazed how big cars have gotten in the last decade or so. The Camry my parents owned for most of my childhood (and I'm the youngest) is now smaller than a Civic (or even your oh so tiny Ford Escort) and I pretty that passenger room has grown on equivalently sized cars.
posted by aspo at 3:16 PM on March 20, 2009


Every car thread on the internet seems to be full of American's saying what Oriole Adams is saying here, and yet throughout the rest of the world these so called "small" cars do that job just fine. It's the same as how many people seem to need this in the US for all the stuff they have to carry for work, and yet every tradesman in this country seems to manage just fine with something like this. Cultural norms.
posted by markr at 3:36 PM on March 20, 2009


I remember requesting a mid-size car the last time I rented one in England and was given a Ford Escort. Just barely enough room for three people plus luggage (the backseat passenger had to hold a suitcase in his lap).

Hmm, the last time I rented a mid-size car in the US I got a Ford Explorer. We were five adult men, light on luggage, and, frankly, although big outside, it was far less than spacious inside: we probably would have been more comfortable in a Focus. The frame and transmission clearly raised the floor so much that us rear-seat passengers had our knees around our ears. Big? Sure, but very poorly designed.
posted by Skeptic at 4:15 PM on March 20, 2009


markr- the f150 is the defacto ford truck.

The problem is, ford and other US car companies have decided that marketing these big cars is where all the money is, so they have artificially created the market for these huge vehicles, by convincing everyone they need them.

So now the same companies, in the middle of the economic downturn, are trying to sell vehicles that they were just calling weak, wimpy and 'not practical for american needs' last year.

And then there is just the groupthink associated with things such as SUVs. I know people who drive them because they would feel unsafe and intimidated in smaller cars. Well, guess what? They aren't fixing the problem by getting into an SUV, they are perpetuating it. And usually, those 'smaller cars' are safer than those supposedly safe SUVs.

I guess it just goes to show that consumers are rarely rational in their decisions, and probably americans as some of the least rational when it comes to automobiles.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:37 PM on March 20, 2009


The last car that my parents had to take all five of us on a family holiday was a Vauxhall Cavalier. It was classed as a large family car, while the same model in the US was a compact (or even a subcompact).

One of the neighbours back in Glasgow had a Country Squire, which really didn't fit the suburban roads at all.
posted by scruss at 4:37 PM on March 20, 2009


The relevant question for a car company looking to possibly sell any given car, such as a compact (or anything else) in the U.S. (or any other market) is not whether people should be content to drive that sort of car. It is whether people will buy that sort of car in that market.

Sure, we can sit here all day and make arguments about why Americans are dumb for liking the cars they like, how they ought to be content and happy to drive smaller cars than they do, how American cars, including the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, BMW X5, and a host of other "foreign" cars that are actually built in the U.S. for the U.S. market are bloated and unnecessary. But it would be stupid for a car company to decide that the American consumer is just too dumb to know what he/she really needs and to then refuse to sell what consumers will buy.

Furthermore, small, economical cars are simply not profitable. Do you know how much money Toyota makes every time they sell a Prius? Nothing. Zero. They lose money. The big expensive cars are the ones they make a profit on.

In 2008, Toyota sold more vehicles than any other company on earth: 8972 million vehicles. For the fiscal year ending March 1, 2009, Toyota had a net loss of over $3 Billion.

Contrast that with a company that only sells gas-guzzling, outrageously expensive, hand-built cars that are not practical or environmentally friendly in any way: Ferrari sold 6500 cars worldwide in 2008 for a profit of $437.7 million.

It's not about selling more cars. It's about making more money per car sold. Toyota sold over a million times as many cars as Ferrari did in 2008. That is staggering -- for each and every Ferrari sold in 2008, there were more than a million new Toyotas sold. Toyota ended up with a net loss in the billions of dollars. Ferrari made a $437.7 million profit. Toyota became the world's largest automaker in 2008. Now it is begging the Japanese government for a bailout. And what about other companies that sell small, economical cars? Honda is begging for a bailout and has threatened to leave Japan entirely if the Japanese government does not pay up. Subary? Nissan? Yep, them too. Of the European companies, the ones that are hurting the least are the ones that, by and large, do not sell little economical cars. BMW, Audi, Porsche, Daimler (Mercedes) are all in much better shape than, say, Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Alfa, Lancia, etc.

What the American companies ought to do if they want to stay in business and be profitable is build and sell cars that a) people want to buy and b) have a decent profit margin, and not build more cars than they can actually sell (since surplusses cut into total profits and also increase depreciation of the cars that they do sell).

What the American companies (and, frankly, Toyota) failed to do that precipitated (but did not cause) their current problems was to think long-term and plan a product line that would be less susceptible to a down market caused either by their core demographic having less money/credit or by escalating gas prices. Since even Honda is hurting bad now--and they really didn't get into the SUV thing like everyone else--it is apparent that only the most robust long-term economic stability strategy could weather what we're going through now. Is it possible to have a staggeringly big global car company that is not susceptible to global economic collapse and an oil crisis? No. It is not. But the same things that help a company to do well in the good times helps in the bad times. Namely, they need to build brand equity and loyalty by never, ever compromising on delivering a product that every customer will be happy with every single day until they buy their next car. Heck, Toyota generally gets by with delivering a product that customers just don't hate.
posted by The World Famous at 4:44 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


every tradesman in this country seems to manage just fine with something like this

As an aside, the standard tradesman's vehicle in the UK is the Transit van -- hence the white van man stereotype. As a further aside: Transit vans are enormously fun to drive.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:25 PM on March 20, 2009


Strange. The Daihatsu Charade is one of the most popular models here in Israel.

"The car the computer created... IS HERE!" Went the jingle in Australia in the early 80s. The motherfucken computer, maaan.

Fond memories of 10 or so years borrowing my old man's 796cc Charade. Absolute ripper of a car, but a fair dinkum coffin on wheels. It was only due to my totally awesome driving skillz that I am alive today. One accident and I was toast.

IIRC Daihatsu left Australia 1 or 2 years ago. As in: no dealerships. Unbelievable.

Was driving behind one of these yesterday. Tell me this car isn't going to become a classic.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:39 PM on March 20, 2009


That's not a car, that's a lady's shoe!
posted by clevershark at 7:15 PM on March 20, 2009


While we're talking about the Copen, check out the most ill-advised set of scissor doors ever.
posted by clevershark at 7:18 PM on March 20, 2009


That's not a car, that's a lady's shoe!

Yeah but the roll bars are exactly like an AC Cobra.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:27 PM on March 20, 2009


clevershark- so those doors, they don't rotate vertically enough to be out of the way of the well (such as the koenigsegg's CRAZY ASS DOORS), and at the same time, they don't move wide enough to let you actually get into the car. So I imagine getting into the car would be some process of diagonal shimmy.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:32 PM on March 20, 2009


In 2008, Toyota sold more vehicles than any other company on earth: 8972 million vehicles. For the fiscal year ending March 1, 2009, Toyota had a net loss of over $3 Billion.

Toyota did not sell 8.9 billion cars in 2008. It sold 8.9 million.

I had assumed this was a typo, but then you expand on it with your Ferrari math later, not once but twice, and it is clear you really thought this was the case.

A little critical thinking would go a long ways... there's only a few short of 7 billion people on the planet. You thought everyone on Earth bought a Toyota, and a few bought 2?

If Ferrari sold 6500 cars, then Toyota sold roughly 1400 cars for every Ferrari. Which honestly I would have thought the difference would have been more, but not a million to one.

One interesting note: at almost 9 million cars, a $3 billion loss is only about $350 per car. Many new Toyotas in the US are over $20,000, with some over $30,000. They probably could have raised the price $350 and few people would have noticed.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:49 PM on March 20, 2009


I had assumed this was a typo, but then you expand on it with your Ferrari math later, not once but twice, and it is clear you really thought this was the case.

Yeah, I thought it seemed crazy, too, but I found it worded exactly as I did in multiple news websites.

A little critical thinking would go a long ways... there's only a few short of 7 billion people on the planet. You thought everyone on Earth bought a Toyota, and a few bought 2?

Ouch. This is just a little too much of a personal attack. I pasted a statistic after checking multiple sources.

But, be that as it may, the point stands: The idea is to make a profit, not to sell more units. Some Toyota models are profitable, while others are not. The bigger the company, the harder it is to make sure that those numbers result in a net profit. And selling small economical cars generally makes it harder to do, since they are generally the low-if-any-profit-margin vehicles.
posted by The World Famous at 9:03 PM on March 20, 2009


Just so you don't think I'm completely insane: There are several sources that give the 8972 million figure. I may be slow, but I guess I'm not alone.
posted by The World Famous at 9:06 PM on March 20, 2009


Huh, Daihatsu sold cars in the US for a few years about 20 years ago. I don't think that I ever saw one on the road.
posted by octothorpe at 9:09 PM on March 20, 2009


World famous- It appears someone dropped the decimal point (8.972 million, as in 8,972,000 cars)

Looking at the second result for your search, you see they got it write, BUT because . isn't allowed in URLs, it was dropped in the page title, which makes up the URL in most articles.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:30 PM on March 20, 2009


Yeah, I picked up on that. Thanks.
posted by The World Famous at 9:33 PM on March 20, 2009


In 2008, Toyota sold more vehicles than any other company on earth: 8972 million vehicles.

Cite please.
posted by ryanrs at 12:04 AM on March 21, 2009


oops, preview fail
posted by ryanrs at 12:05 AM on March 21, 2009


"I remember when the Viper first came out, my local Dodge dealer was ecstatic to score one to sell. People came by the dealership just to see it. They had hotdogs and ballons.

"4 years later it was still sitting, as a 'new model" on the showroom floor with 1 mile on the odometer.

"I think eventually the dealer just took it as a personal car."


FYI that dealer didn't want to sell the Viper. It was strictly a draw to sell Intrepids, Neons, and Caravans.
posted by Mitheral at 3:49 AM on March 21, 2009


The average American family with two kids needs enough space for four passengers, plus assorted baggage, whether it be equipment for the soccer/hockey/softball game, or traditional backpack every school kid seems to carry, or hauling a week's worth of groceries home. The tiny Escort we were given in the UK would never work for an average two-child family.

The design of the Ford Escort has changed a lot over the years; was it a long time ago you went on this trip?

I ask because a ford escort like this one can fit four adults, and everything I own at the same time. You could fit in two backpacks, a week's worth of shopping, and some sporting equipment, all at the same time.
posted by Mike1024 at 9:58 AM on March 21, 2009


Ouch. This is just a little too much of a personal attack. I pasted a statistic after checking multiple sources.

My apologies, I didn't mean for it to come off as aggressive as it apparently did.

I think that this is a clear example of how the internet gives us access to everything, but is dulling our critical thinking skills. In other words, we have all the knowledge at our fingertips, but we aren't any smarter. In fact, perhaps the opposite.

See, if I had told you, in English "Hey, Toyota sold 9 billion cars last year. Can you believe that?" you would have instantly said "What? Impossible."

But, because it was written, and copy/paste is so easy, it got passed along as fact without you even questioning it because it was on a couple of web sites.

I know I probably sound like someone's high school math teacher saying that calculators are making all the kids stupid. But this really is to me a bit of a problem.

In a world that I have to show people Snopes at least a half-dozen times per week, it makes me worried, that's all.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:03 PM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mike1024, I actually own that Ford Escort you linked to (the American version, that is). The mid-90s Ford Escort wagon is one of the best practical cars around. My Dad had one that got up to 175,000 miles before he unfortunately wrecked it. Mine has 70,000 miles and I'm hoping for 200,000. The only thing I don't like about it is excessive road noise.
posted by Slothrop at 2:37 PM on March 21, 2009


Furthermore, small, economical cars are simply not profitable. Do you know how much money Toyota makes every time they sell a Prius? Nothing. Zero. They lose money. The big expensive cars are the ones they make a profit on.

I don't think that's the case. Of course there's a bigger margin on their bigger, more expensive cars (and everything in the Lexus brand) but they're still selling millions of small cars. Toyota's bread-and-butter is small cars in most world markets, and even in the US I'm quite certain they're still making money on the Yaris, Corolla, and the whole Scion lineup. Especially in the case of the Yaris--which is imported and doesn't have a complicated local network of production facilities and suppliers--if they weren't profitable, they would have stopped shipping them over by now.

The Prius doesn't count as an average small car. It's an experiment in engineering and marketing that cost a ton of money to develop (which is why they're apparently still losing money on each sale--however, one can assume that the Prius is a "gateway drug" to the brand. Get the someone driving a Prius now, and when the hybrid fad dies off they'll stick with Toyota. Hard to say that's a loss in the long term.)
posted by bhayes82 at 5:34 PM on March 21, 2009


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