“Model Sharing” has been going on for as long as I can remember (the Brits started the concept over 80 years ago). One pair of manufacturers in Australia that had a couple of models which blessed our streets for an extended period of time was Ford and Mazda with their top selling small and mid-size cars of the 80’s and 90’s – Ford Laser/Mazda 323 and Ford Telstar/Mazda 626. These cars won awards in the Australian new car marketplace time and time again (including the coveted Wheels Car of the Year in 1983 and 1992 for the Telstar/Mazda 626). For their time, they were stylish, feature-packed, reliable cars that appealed too many. There weren’t many badge engineered cars that shared the same level of success as these 2 pairs. Some other examples from the early to mid 90’s are:
- Toyota Camry/Holden Apollo
- Nissan Pintara/Ford Corsair
- Toyota Corolla/Holden Nova
- Ford Fiesta/Mazda 121
- Holden Commodore/Toyota Lexcen
- Holden Barina/Suzuki Swift
and more recently…
- Peugeot 4007/Mitsubishi Outlander
- Daewoo Lacetti and Holden Viva
So why do some manufacturers adopt the badge engineering approach?
There are considerable costs in designing and engineering a totally new model and quite often a new model can take many years to gain consumer acceptance. Therefore, manufacturers find it a lot more cost-effective to re-badge a single product.
The obvious down-side of badge engineering is the prolific number of cars on our roads that look practically identical to each other. This is especially bad if the cars lack any visual excitement or flair. The consumer out there is also more limited to the range of available cars that have a touch of individuality.
My biggest gripe with badge engineered cars is the daylight robbery, in terms of original purchase price, that sometimes occurs between virtually identical cars. Manufacturers that are perceived to be more exclusive by the motoring public, will inevitably have a considerable higher initial purchase price than its badge engineered equivalent. The Peugeot 4007/Mitsubishi Outlander is a case in point. The cheapest new Outlander on the market is $28,990 (2.4 litre petrol) as opposed to a price tag of $41,990 for the Peugeot 4007 ST (with a diesel engine fitted). A considerable difference to pay when the few visual differences are (usually) logos, head or tail lights and some bits and pieces in the cabin.
If only the motoring public was more savvy about these over-priced badge engineered cars, then we could safely assume that the demise of these cars would only be a matter of time.