Fleet News

Every car maker has a 'why?' car

JUST about every manufacturer has got one, in some form or another, and that is a 'Why?' car. Look at any price list and one will jump out at you, prompting the question 'why have they made that?'.

From the basic concept of the car, or where it sits in the market place, through to its practicality or simply how it looks, there is always a question mark. I won't go through all the cars on this list, but some are fairly obvious. It could be the front end or the back end of the vehicle that is wrong, or the interior design that has to be questioned.

But somebody somewhere signed off the design and everyone now has to live with it. These 'Why?' cars also suffer on the used market and prove just as difficult as new examples to move.

This is hardly surprising because used car buyers are almost always spending their own money and if a car looks a bit strange it gets the thumbs down on the forecourt. So why do manufacturers do it? You can't blame them for daring to be different and, in fact, it can be argued that they deserve some admiration for being so brave.

However, you have to face facts and sometimes they just don't work.

This leads us nicely to the demise of the Renault Avantime – a good idea and a nice concept vehicle. But in reality there were never enough people out there to buy it. With a huge investment in its development, shared between Renault and its partner in this project, Matra, it ended up selling just 4,661 units in 2002 in Europe.

So what will happen to the Avantime in years to come? Will it be remembered as the 'mother of all lemons' or will we all begin to wish we had bought a couple and stored them in heated garages, because they could turn out to be the ultimate collectors' item?

It is true that this sometimes happens and the once unwanted becomes a much prized possession.

Limited numbers are guaranteed to bring rarity value. It is also unusual for a car to have such a short production run and I struggle to think of another car that has lived for just a few months before being discontinued.

So which will be the next manufacturer to do some serious re-thinking on one of its models, followed by an early facelift or re-design? Or will someone, like Renault, bite the bullet and cease production earlier than originally planned?

The rare cars making over list

It is a rare occurrence these days to have a car selling for more than list price. It is normally the exotic car manufacturers which ask premium money for used cars, and some are still doing it. But now we are seeing MINI and Volvo XC90 making over list.

Some may say the public are 'crazy' for paying more than cost new for two relatively easy to get new cars. Waiting times are no more than six months – a far cry from having to join a waiting list for years to own the ultimate sports car. But these two are doing 'overs' and are expected to do so for some time.

The MINI is very desirable as both a new and used car and some say the XC90 is, if anything, too cheap new. Some even maintain this belief at up to £4,000 over list, which is what some have been changing hands for.

Personally I would not pay over list for anything and nor would the majority of the trade or public. But you have to salute the achievement of any manufacturer which manages to attain such desirability in a vehicle.

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