Curbside Newsstand: Carpocalypse Edition – Which Brands Will Soon Be Car Free?

News of manufacturers discontinuing their cars has been coming in fast and furious over the past several months, a trend that is being accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic. Let’s take a step back and look at the fallout from the Carpocalypse, and see how many brands are going to be bereft of (passenger) cars/sedans in the near future (spoiler alert: potentially a lot).

Soon to be Car Free

The pantheon of historically car-free brands (GMC, Jeep, RAM, Land Rover) is about to get much larger, as these traditional car brands will offer only trucks and utility vehicles starting in 2021.

Lincoln

The last MKZ (and platform-mate Ford Fusion) already rolled off the Hermosillo assembly line on July 31 – At this point dealers are just selling down what is left in inventory. 2020 will also be the last year of Continental, meaning that 2021 Lincoln lineup will consist solely of SUVs and crossovers. Quite a turnaround for a brand whose first SUV, the Navigator, appeared just a scant two decades ago in 1998.

I don’t see this changing any time soon. Every couple of years rumors of a Lincoln bodied Mustang coupe pop up, but so far these have never panned out past the conjecture stage. Lincoln’s car pipeline is currently empty.

Buick

The LaCrosse (and platform-mate Chevrolet Impala) are already gone. 2020 is the last year for the Regal, so for 2021 Buick will be a crossover only brand, at least in the US.

Buick’s transformation into an all crossover brand was even more rapid than that of Lincoln: Buick’s first SUV, the Rendezvous, came out in only 2002. A refreshed 2021 Regal will still be sold in China, and could theoretically be brought back to the US in the unlikely event consumers demand another Regal.

Down to a Single Car

These brands are not quite yet free of cars but are getting dangerously close.

Ford

The rapid contraction of Ford’s car lineup in the past 24 months has been more dramatic than that of any other automaker. Gone are the Taurus, Fiesta, Focus, and Fusion, leaving just the Mustang as the sole mainstream automobile in Ford’s US lineup (OK, technically the limited production GT is still for sale, but a $500,000 it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of Ford’s lineup).

Plans on bringing a variant of the next-generation European Focus to the US got knifed in 2018, so the Ford brand will be without any new cars for the foreseeable future. Rumors are circulating that the Fusion name might be resurrected on an Outback-style wagon in 2022, which I guess is kind of a car, but nothing firm has been announced, and COVID could upset that apple cart.

Mitsubishi

The Mirage is the sole car remaining in Mitsubishi’s US lineup. Mitsubishi recently performed a mild update of the Mirage for overseas markets, which it has committed to bringing to the US in 2021. Still, with a base price of under $15,000 and sales volumes of around 25,000 units per year, it is unlikely that the Mirage is making much if any profit for Mitsubishi. This makes its future very uncertain, given the current financial troubles Mitsubishi finds itself in.

Chrysler

Chrysler has been a brand without a clear direction for several decades now. Now down to just two products (the Pacifica/Voyager minivans and the 300 sedan), this could soon be just one. The current bones of the 300’s LX platform date back to 2011 (or 2005, depending on whether you view the 2011 update as a wholly new platform or not).

Rumors of the 300’s demise have been swirling for years, and come one step closer in 2021, with the 300 product offerings reduced to just two trim levels and with several options being eliminated. While the 300 has no officially been killed yet, no replacement has been announced either.

FCA had put forth some vague vision of Chrysler being an all-electric “people mover” brand in the future, but without any firm product commitments. That was pre-PSA merger, so expect more roadmap changes in the future. For now, Chrysler’s product pipeline is empty, and the only Chrysler-branded vehicles with a certain future are the Pacifica and Voyager minivan.

Outlook is Uncertain

Dodge

Much like Chrysler, the sole cars remaining in Dodge’s lineup are based on the rapidly aging LX platform: The Charger and Challenger. The Journey and Grand Caravan are gone after 2020, so cars will actually represent a larger portion of the Dodge lineup in 2021 than in 2020 in an odd twist of fate. The only other vehicle in the Dodge lineup for 2021 is Durango, whose foundations also date to 2011, which means all the vehicles in the Dodge lineup will be riding on 10+ year-old platforms.

As with the Chrysler brand, PSA has been tight-lipped about any future vehicles for Dodge, leading to speculation about the future of not just Dodge cars, but the Dodge brand in general.

Cadillac

Wagon and coupe body styles are already gone at Cadillac, leaving the luxury maker with a trio of slow-selling sedans to hold the fort on the car side of the showroom. The CT6 is already dead after 2020, its Hamtramck assembly plant being repurposed to start making EV GMC Hummers. The CT4 and CT5 are both new, having launched this past year, although you would never know it given the lack of marketing support and “meh” names Cadillac has affixed to them. Cadillac sedans have struggled for years to get a toehold in the luxury sedan market dominated by their German competitors. If these compact and midsize sedans fail to succeed where their predecessors have failed, it is not hard to see the current generation of Cadillac sedans being the last.

Chevrolet

Already gone are the Cruze, Volt, and Impala. The U.S. is the only country where you can still buy a Sonic, the model having already been discontinued elsewhere in the world, including Canada, Mexico, and Korea. Expect it to disappear from the U.S. as well in 2021 or 2022. The Malibu’s future is even more uncertain: The current model, introduced in 2016, was originally planned to be sold through 2025. COVID may accelerate its retirement to 2022 or 2023, as Malibu sales have since fallen off a cliff. Development on a seventh-generation Camaro has supposedly been halted, effectively killing the model after 2022. If true, this would be one more nail in the coffin of Alpha platform mates CT4 and CT5 (see above), with which the Camaro shares a platform. For now, only the Spark, Bolt, and Corvette seem to have secure futures in Chevrolet’s car lineup.

Infiniti

The Q70 is already gone, leaving just the Q50 sedan and Q60 coupe in Infiniti’s automobile lineup. The FM platform that underpins all three traces its origins back almost two decades, and is no longer competitive. Nissan was working on an AWD replacement platform, but that got killed by Nissan’s recent cash crunch. Nissan is now saying that Inifinitis will no longer ride on bespoke platforms, but will instead share bones with Nissan vehicles. The future vision for Infiniti is now “Nissan-plus” rather than as true luxury brand. Nissan has not committed to any replacement cars for Infiniti after the Q50 and Q60 expire; if any are made they will be based on existing Nissan cars.