Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer 2015 Product Launches Part IV, Another Dumb Idea from Nissan, Plus The Return of the Large American Car

Alexander Carabitses

Here we go again.  First up is the new 2016 Renault Talisman.  It is about the size of a Nissan Maxima, only a tad bit shorter, and they are not made on the same architecture, so don't think for a minute that it is a heavily restyled Maxima for Europe, even though that's basically the idea.
(Image credited to

Next up is the refreshed 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500.  The front end is new, and it looks much different than the previous generation truck (last seen in the 2013 model year).  Many people couldn't tell that truck apart from the 2014 and 2015 truck, but that didn't stop it from surpassing Ford F-150 sales in the month of June.  The only major mechanical change that has been mentioned is that the 8-speed automatic transmission will be more widely available.  The truck will have a public debut in the fall and should go on sale just in time for Christmas.
(Image credited to

In the meantime, the Silverado's sister truck, the 2016 GMC Sierra 1500, also receives some upgrades, all of which happen to be exactly the same ones that the Silverado received.  However, the grille change is minimal compared to that of the Silverado, while the GMC also gets new headlights and taillights.
(Image credited to

Nissan Apparently Loves to Screw Up

Moving away from the endless list of summer product launches, I have to add some commentary on a plan highlighted by Nissan to launch two new crossovers in the U.S.  The first comes as a direct attack on the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.  Called the Rogue Hybrid, it is a hybrid version of the Rogue, and given how well the Pathfinder Hybrid sold and also given the decline in hybrid sales in the U.S. market, my sarcastic description of the car is quite fitting.  If that isn't enough for you, I will just go back to the title of my Chicago Auto Show post for reference:  Where did this come from and why should I care?

The second new model is a compact crossover, currently sold in Europe and Australia, called the Qashqai.  I assume that Nissan is still deciding whether or not to change the name of the vehicle for our market.  My second assumption is that this will officially replace the first generation Rogue, which has currently been on sale as the Rogue Select.  My final assumption is that Nissan has thought this out long and hard, and realizes that this may cannibalize Rogue sales, unless it is priced drastically cheaper, or unless the vehicle is marketed as the Rogue Sport, or something like that.  Either way, I find this to be a completely stupid move.  Most automakers know that selling two cars that compete in the exact same segment of the car market is a bad idea, just ask Chevrolet with the Prism and Cavailier from the early 2000s.  There is a 50/50 chance that this will be a success or it will blow up in Nissan's face.  And given the recent failures of the Altima Coupe, the Cube, the Murano Cross Cabriolet, and the Pathfinder Hybrid, don't count failure out, even if the segment is strong (not that the others were).  A picture of the European market Qashqai is below.
(Image credited to

The Large American Luxury Car is Back

Back when I was very nieve, I didn't think much of American cars from the 1950s.  To me they were just old irrelevant fossils from the past; I was keen on focusing on the new stuff coming out.  Then on the Fourth of July last year, I was perusing through my uncle's man cave when I came across a book consisting of 1950s advertising.  The section of ads that covered cars was long, but engaging; it was here where I started to appreciate the beauty of old American sheetmetal like I never had before.  My uncle gave me the book, and when I brought it home I looked some more; by the end of the day I had fallen in love with the styling on these cars.  

When most people think of 50s cars, they think of land yachts with fins and whitewall tires.  That is pretty accurate, but there is more to that.  1950s car design reflected a time of optimism in America, a time when everything was going great, even though the Cold War was going on. Americans felt superior, so American car stylists (as they were called back then) styled big, luxurious cars.  Consumers then gobbled these things up.  It didn't matter that the cars handled poorly, because people cruised back then.  Styling was always the key to success in the 1950s, as well as the 1960s and early 1970s.  Then a bunch of crap happened that, by 2009, nearly killed the American car companies, but that's another story.  

However, the 2009 Lincoln MKS, the 2010 Ford Taurus, and the 2010 Buick Lacrosse came along and marked the triumphant return of the large American car (although those cars would probably be considered mid-sized in the 50s).  Then along came the 2013 Cadillac XTS and the 2014 Chevrolet Impala, and now things just keep getting better.  The Cadillac Ciel Concept and the Elmiraj Concept both signaled that Cadillac would be going big, literally.  And this year, the CT6, the brand's new flagship (for the time being, until the CT8 comes out) was unveiled.  This year, Buick unveiled the Avenir Concept, which is based on the same platform as the CT6, and although GM has no plans to build it, it does pose as a good business case for China; for me it is a Buick Roadmaster or Skylark for the 21st century and it is a beautiful car.  Finally, there was the Lincoln Continental Concept, which will make production and go on sale next year, and it too looks stunning (and who cares if it has a similar siluiete to the Bentley Flying Spur).

Some of you will ask, "What are the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 compatible to?"  I'd say that the current 300, is a slightly less luxurious and modern interpretation of the 300s of old, while the Charger is more sport, than luxury; it is similar to how it would be hard to compare a 2009 Pontiac G8 to a 1959 Pontiac Bonneville.  The large American cars I'm talking about evoke memories of the past in terms of their size and possibly their names, while everything else is geared towards the future.  It is a great combination because it works.  And I should add that it is great to see American car companies are remembering their heritage when trying to outdo the competition, especially in the cases of Cadillac and Lincoln.  It is safe to say that most of these cars exist because it is anticipated they will sell well in China, while also serving as a status symbol to compete against the German luxury brands.  We'll have to wait and see if it works, but the things look promising.  

The American car scene has changed since the 1950s, with styling being toned down quite a bit and brands like Pontiac, Plymouth, Desoto, Edsel, Nash, Hudson, Packard, Imperial, Oldsmobile, and Mercury being shut down.  However, American car design is still strong as the large American sedan makes a triumphant return; these cars are made for modern times and look towards the future, but deep down they are the spiritual successors of the cars made in the 1950s.

I have put a nice collage/photo gallery together, which shows a 1950s car and a 21st century car that I felt it was compatible too. I am probably not accurate with the compatibility, but I still hardly know the lineups, price points, and segments of these 50s cars.  If anyone has accurate information on this, please let me know.  By the way, the names of the cars are in the photo credits. 

With that said, enjoy the photos and enjoy the rest of you week.

(2014 Chevrolet Impala image credited to
(1959 Chevrolet Impala image credited to

(1956 Lincoln Continental image credited to
(Lincoln Continental Concept credited to

(1953 Buick Roadmaster Skylark image credited to
(1957 Buick Roadmaster image credited to
(Buick Avenir Concept image credited to

(1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible image credited to
(Cadillac Ciel Concept image credited to

(1959 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special image credited to 
(2016 Cadillac CT6 image credited to

(1959 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham image credited to
(Cadillac CT8 rendering image credited to

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