Which Car Brands Will Be Dead by 2035?
Not all car companies can survive the transition to the electrified era.
All signs point to the 2020s being a downer of a decade for the auto industry. We're probably past peak car, and automakers are scrambling to optimize for the era of electrification while dealing with supply chain disruptions—an expensive endeavor that will put companies already in rough places on the ropes. So, because everyone likes a good stare into the abyss, let's talk about who we think the casualties will be.
It's pretty easy to identify which companies are at the greatest risk of failure. Financial instability, reliability problems, or limited brand loyalty may not on their own sink an international carmaker, but as comorbidities, they easily could, and there are multiple brands with all three problems. Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, and Maserati are all in a tight spot, and so could be Mitsubishi if it doesn't turn things around some time soon (sad as that'd be for me).
Then there are those that fall in the "debatable" category like Infiniti, which has over the last few years been retreating from major markets, having not made much obvious headway against rivals like Lexus. Reliability doesn't seem to be a problem, but brand identity definitely is; there aren't many reasons to buy an Infiniti over a competing product. It's like the Rei Ayanami of car companies, born with no identity, and just going with the flow until it goes POP as things keep tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down.
There are others I can see faltering too, like Chrysler, which has a decade for its new models to turn things around, while I have some concerns about Mazda too. Its SUV sales are strong, sure, but its move upmarket hasn't been without growing pains, as shown by its first attempts at electrification.
Subaru is my outside choice because beyond platitudes about love and dogs and hiking and nature, its entire brand identity is built around ideas that have become developmental dead-ends. Opposed-cylinder engines don't seem to be doing Subaru much good, and everyone's doing all-wheel drive now. There's enough brand loyalty that I don't see Subaru going bankrupt, but rather being absorbed into the Gravemind that is Toyota, and producing nothing but badge-engineered products. And if the BRZ and Solterra are anything to go by, that process may already be well underway.
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