Thanks to massive development costs, long lead times, and hard-to-pin-down customer tastes, every move in the auto industry is risky. These ten moves, though, needed absolute balls of steel.
10.) BMW i3
Launching a new sub-brand and spending upwards of $2 billion on developing a new hybrid system and a factory that's capable of producing carbon fiber in high volume for a city car was a ballsy move from BMW. And a smart one too, says alvape:
Multiple times already I've heard/read people claiming that current BMWs are not as good as they could be because of the enormous investments necessary to develop the "i" range.
Well, I've test driven an i3 and think it's a very impressive vehicle. If it succeeds and they can distill the technology of that car into their other products, the gamble could pay off big-time!
Suggested By: Zergonn, Photo Credit: BMW
9.) The second generation Dodge Ram
It took them longer to develop than planned, and success depended hugely on Phillip E. Payne's design which was supposed to give it a "look of a big rig truck." It wasn't better, just better looking with a V10.
That hairy-chested attitude has paid off big time for Chrysler.
Suggested By: Zoom, Photo Credit: Dodge
8.) Toyota Prius
You could argue that as the biggest car maker in the universe, Toyota had enough cash to play around a little.
Having said that, telling Americans in 1997 — the year of the Nokia 6110 — that here's a car with experimental technology and heavy high-voltage batteries inside that may need to be replaced at some point was an honorable move, especially after witnessing the Honda Insight's failure.
Hollywood sold it from the second-generation on.
Suggested By: DennyCrane, Photo Credit: Toyota
7.) Lexus LS
Guys, what if we built a S-Class, only it's dependable, cheaper to fix, and 20 grand less expensive to buy? You think that might work?
Also : better
Oh and we should probably start an entire brand to do it, with dealers and the works.
And there was this too.
Suggested By: DontPanic1, Photo Credit: Lexus
6.) Ford Taurus
Doing something crazy in the mid-eighties? No cocaine jokes please.
I remember when my dad got one of these in 1986 as a company car. It blew my 7 year old mind. It was like something straight out of the future compared to the K Car that he had before.
Ford basically bet the company on the Taurus.
Consider that the Ford LTD was the Taurus' predecessor, and you can see the giant limb that Ford went out on with the styling.
Suggested By: SomethingGerman, Photo Credit: Ford
Elon Musk is super rich and very well connected, and sure there was some government money involved as well.
But if you think about the effort it took to start a new car company in 2003 using cutting-edge (and very expensive) electric technology knowing how tough the market is, you have to agree that Tesla is the Tucker of the modern day, with the difference of being successful.
By the way, they managed to pay back that loan long before it was due, so no tax money was harmed in the process.
Suggested By: Automatch Tom, Photo Credit: Tesla
4.) Citroën CX
André Citroën had lost his company to Michelin because creating the Traction Avant, the world's first front-wheeled drive production car using unibody construction cost him so much that he went bankrupt.
Citroën's next hit, the DS also happened to be the most advanced car on the planet. To follow up on that, the CX used all the tricks of the DS like the complex hydraulic system and the streamlined body, but was also supposed to have a rotary engine for lightness.
The project was cancelled at the last minute due to economy concerns (just like how GM cancelled their rotary engine for the AMC Pacer), making Citroën lose millions and end up in the hands of Peugeot.
The CX was Car of the Year nevertheless and almost 1.2 million got sold in the sixteen years of production.
Suggested By: duurtlang, Photo Credit: Citroën
3.) 1958 AMC Rambler
AMC has always been the brave one, says N2Skylark:
For 1958, AMC dropped their big-car Nash and Hudson marques as sales in those lines was dying. Instead, they decided to "sink or swim with the Rambler" compacts from 1958-on. This was a last-ditch effort to save a deeply troubled American Motors.
It was massively risky because every other car maker in the US was going from strength to strength on profitable big cars. Chrysler had 5 divisions of them. GM had 5. And Ford launched their 4th car big-car division that year, too, with Edsel.
So here was AMC, dropping their big cars, and selling only compact and midsize cars, with lower profit margins, instead. And the thing is, it worked. Incredibly well. The '58 line bowed just in time for the "Eisenhower Recession", where sales of big cars, and particularly mid-priced cars, plummeted.
And Rambler was the only brand to see a sales increase in '58. By almost 100%. They inspired Studebaker to drop all their big cars and launch the compact Lark the next year. They inspired the Big Three to jump into the compact/intermediate fray in 1960 and '61.
By 1960, Rambler was the 3rd best-selling brand, beaten only by Chevrolet and Ford. Pretty crazy considering less than 100k Ramblers had been sold in 1957.
It was a massive risk for AMC. And it paid off. Massively.
He went to Northern Ireland to build a car. In the seventies.
Launching a new brand that doesn't fit anywhere with a vagina nose. Shooting yourself in the leg.
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