The 4 Best Badly-Selling Cars in the World

New sales figures published earlier this month revealed the UK’s best selling cars of the year. To be honest, there weren’t many surprises.

The Ford Fiesta still remains top dog, selling an astonishing 76,000 units. The Vauxhall Corsa limped in second, shifting a paltry 50,000 cars, followed by the Ford Focus in third, the Volkswagen Golf in fourth and Nissan Qashqai in fifth.

And that got us thinking. There’s a lot of good cars that sell well and a lot of bad cars that sell badly — but what about the other way round?

What are the best badly-selling cars in the world?


Cadillac Allante

Cadillac Allanté

The Cadillac Allanté is a landmark in Cadillac’s history — although not for the best reasons. Cadillac’s answer to the Mercedes-Benz and the Jaguar XJS, the Allanté fell flat and kickstarted the decline of the once-mighty GM.

Here is Associate Prof. of Management at Doane University in Nebraska, Timothy Wiedman, on the merits — and failures — of the Allanté.

Over its seven-year production span (from 1987 through 1993) the Cadillac Allanté only sold a total of 21,430 units, an average of just 3,061 cars per year.

The body of the Allanté was designed and manufactured in Italy by Pininfarina, and then completed bodies were air-freighted to Detroit to be mated with a fairly advanced Cadillac drive-train and chassis.

The final result was a beautiful car that had good power, handled well, had ABS disc brakes on all four wheels and sported a Bose-designed sound system. Further, it had the best warranty in the industry during that era, featuring 7-years or 100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection.

Originally conceived to compete with the Mercedes-Benz SL and Jaguar XJS, the Cadillac Allanté was a fairly pricey car. But with extensively-equipped base models available in the mid-50s, the Allanté was priced quite a bit lower than its foreign competition. Combining Italian styling with GM reliability, this reasonably-priced luxury car was a darn good deal. Why it sold so poorly is a mystery to me!

In its short seven-year life, the Cadillac Allanté sold just 21,430 cars. That’s less than a third of the number of Ford Fiestas shifted in the UK last year!

Despite an ageing design and hefty price tag, the Mercedes easily outsold the Cadillac, perhaps showing just how important brand is to the success of a car. And that’s a shame because the Allanté was a genuinely great car.


Volkswagen Phaeton

Volkswagen Phaeton

Dissed by Top Gear, disregarded by AutoCar and binned by Car Magazine, the Phaeton didn’t have the easiest start in life.

“A luxury limousine… with a Volkswagen badge?” wrote Car Magazine’s Greg Fountain. “The People’s Limousine? A Prime Ministerial ride for Jeremy Corbyn?”

Yes, the Phaeton, like so many other great cars, is a victim to its badge, which is a shame because its ostensible a good car.

Rated 4.7/5 by actual owners on AutoTrader, it’s clear that people do enjoy driving and riding in the car. Just look at this section from the two-star Top Gear review:

If you were to set off a large nuclear device inside the Volkswagen Phaeton, the large nuclear device would probably come off worse. The interior is solidly built using the finest leather and wood Volkswagen could find. All the buttons and switches have a fabulous damped action and there’s thankfully, nothing recognisable from the Polo. The engines and running gear are extremely strong and should be still ticking over when you’ve gone to the knacker’s yard.

It’s quite sad that such a great car, a car that’s been precisely engineered and lovingly crafted, fails to gain any traction because it’s got the wrong badge on the bonnet.

And so, after 13 long and hard years, Volkswagen finally axed the Phaeton in the UK this summer. While some are blaming the aeging engine’s poor emission performance, the sales figures tell a different story.

Across Europe, only 1,510 cars were sold in 2015, falling to a measly 148 in 2016.

Robust sales in China — 4,000 units annually — may have prolonged Phaeton’s life but, ultimately, the writing was on the wall.


Buick Riviera

Buick Riviera

After a two-year hiatus, Buick revived the famous Riveria brand in 1995. Taking the brave decision to discard the iconic angular styling, the Riviera’s designers updated the bodywork with sleek, modern curves.

A new engine made the eighth-generation Riviera the most powerful model in its 36-year history. The stock V6 came delivered 205 horsepower, with a supercharged option upping the power to 225 horsepower.

However, times were changing.

Coupe sales were plummeting in the US and the Riviera felt the full force. People wanted better efficiency, better safety and more convenience. With its 18 miles to the gallon and three doors, the Riveria simply wasn’t what the modern public wanted.

Sales haemorrhaged and were a fraction of the success enjoyed in the 1960s where production rarely fell below 40,000.

During its final year of production, only 1,956 Rivieras rolled off the Michigan line.


Infiniti Q60

Infiniti Q60

Shayrgo Barazi, automotive engineer turned motoring entrepreneur, explains exactly what the Q60 offered.

The Q60 is a luxury sports coupe with an aggressive design and is intended to compete with BMW 4-series and Audi A5 coupes. Besides beautiful exterior styling, the performance of the Q60 is competitive with it’s 3.7-L V6 engine (Same as in the Nissan 370z) and goes 0-60 in 5.7 seconds. While it’s not the fastest luxury coupe on the market, it is certainly a well-rounded alternative and fairly priced at $40,000.

However, the Q60 was introduced at a time of massive upheaval within Infiniti.

The company was reinventing what it was, replacing the older G-line with the revamped Q-line. During the Q60 launch, Infiniti continued to the older G37, cannibalising the replacement model’s sales and tripping up the launch. What should have marked a landmark event in the company’s history eventually ended up fizzling out.

Sales dropped by 50 percent and Infiniti shifted just 3,949 units in 2015.


What do you think?

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