With cars getting fatter, uglier, and more detached with every new generation, it's easy to say which carmaker hasn't lost its way, but Jalopnik readers know ten brands that stand out for losing their shit this year.
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It's not always easy to figure out if a company is off the rails. Most decisions in car companies are made behind closed doors, and thanks to the time it takes to develop tooling for a new car, to produce a new line of vehicles in a factory, and to ship them out to customers, we don't even see the ramifications of executive's decisions until years after the fact.
Still, this year there have been some painfully clear mistakes made in the auto industry, with some companies failing to move forward while their competitors make strong advances, as well as other companies that took steps backwards all on their own.
If you think we forgot a company that did a nosedive this year that we forgot, let us know in Kinja below. If you think that a company does not deserve to be on this list, feel free to scream at us about it, too.
Photo Credit: Lincoln
The lifestyle brand and former carmaker Lotus still hasn't figured out how to grow, even after they fired Danny Bahar, who had at least some good ideas. We love the cars they make, but the company is slipping.
The French are kings of building excellent cheap cars, and those are the only cars people are buying in Europe right now. Renault nailed it by expanding high-quality Dacia production to North Africa while Peugeot… didn't.
On top of not breaking into the budget car market where it should excel, Peugeot tried to tie up with GM and failed at that, too.
Suggested By: Mallthus2, Photo Credit: Getty Images
Fiat's long-awaited second car in America should be peerless, stylish, and fun if the brand wants to ride on what momentum is left from the 500. Instead Fiat is bringing the bloated, ugly 500L. This could end very poorly.
Also, Fiat deserves our endless scorn for giving Lancia a fate worse than death: rebadged Chryslers.
Mitsubishi's lineup is so hopelessly old, so hopelessly outdated, that we almost feel sorry for having them on this list. Take any look at the company's website, or visit their threadbare booth in the basement of any auto show and it's clear this company is off the rails.
Suzuki has been on death watch for quite a while now, but 2012 is when they gurgled their last words here in America, died, and shat themselves. While we like the Kizashi, long for the Swift Sport, and even hold a crush on their Indian subcompacts that dominate that market, we hate the company for squandering its tie-up with Volkswagen and giving up in the USA.
Given everyone's expectations for the brand, this company fell harder than anyone this year.
Suggested By: Matt Hardigree, Photo Credit: Jalopnik
GM is on this list for three reasons. One: it screwed up the launch of their bread-and-butter midsize family car, then when the right version of the Malibu finally came out it wasn't even very good. Two: in Europe, GM still can't figure out what to do with Opel, which probably hopes to expand its global sales by showering markets in pixie dust. Three: we didn't really see as enough new product from the whole company this year, which felt like a refresh of last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.
It's possible Lincoln knows that it has little to no hope in the market these days. We certainly hope so. Why else would you hide your new product at an auto show, and then display that the last time your company made a good car, Kennedy was still alive? We have little hope for their big ad campaign, and unless they have a secret plan to make a humongous, rear-drive halo car to take our breath away, we have little hope for the brand as a whole.
Honda has been losing its act since it went from double front wishbones on the Civic to cheaper, simpler MacPherson struts over a decade ago, so the slip is nothing new. In 2012, though, Honda continued to squander its image of making high-quality and reliable cars with advanced technology. We used to recommend Hondas to anyone looking for a new car. Maybe the company is going to turn itself around based on the 2013 Civic, but we're not convinced.
BMW used to stand for something: exclusive, focused driver's cars. Now BMWs are bought so commonly and uncritically by doctors and mid-level professionals, that the brand has become the new Buick. It's only a matter of time before people realize the company isn't selling anything special (a host of front-wheel-drive compacts should help that along), and smart buyers will move onto the next big thing. At least BMW is raking in the dough with their porky new cars while the success lasts.