Contrary to advertising, cars are rarely built out of passion. They’re usually safe, measured, middle-of-the-road investments made by huge corporations seeking to minimize their financial risks while maximizing profits. With the average new model taking upwards of $6 billion, automakers rarely take the gamble of developing niche models that would only appeal to a small segment.
That said, sometimes we get lucky, and these companies do build that great affordable sports car, or something that really stands out from the rest, or something that starts a completely new trend. But that’s a big risk, and more often than not, these cars end up costing automakers more than they’d like to spend, and they usually disappear.
Looking at 2015 auto sales through May, Autoweek has found five models whose sales numbers have fallen to dangerous levels since this time last year. Here are 5 experiments, under-appreciated gems, and has-beens that are experiencing the full brunt of indifference in the marketplace.
1. Nissan Juke
The Juke is a fun, nimble, and truly odd looking compact crossover that stands out from anything else on the road today. While many buyers embrace it for its odd looks, and the go-fast Juke Nismo RS is a lot of fun for the money, buyers just aren’t falling for Nissan’s quirkiest model like they used to. Sales are down a whopping 47.9 percent this year, making us wonder if the Juke will soon go the way of Nissan’s last weird car, the Cube.
2. Chrysler Town & Country
Chrysler may have introduced the minivan to America, but in 2015 it’s been reduced to an afterthought in the segment. Sales are down a staggering 45.9 percent this year, due to competitive offerings from Toyota, Honda, and Kia, the popularity of the growing Crossover segment, and production issues. The success of the original Chrysler minivans may have saved the company from bankruptcy in the ’80s, but its current offerings aren’t doing anybody any favors.
3. Cadillac CTS
Declining sales at Cadillac are leaving more and more people scratching their heads. Case in point: The CTS was redesigned last year, it has handsome styling, handling that rivals Germany’s best, and an interior that proves Americans can do luxury as well as anybody. General Motors announced earlier this year that it’s taking evasive action by giving Cadillac $12 billion over the next five years to overhaul its image. The bad news is that Cadillac desperately needs it – buyers seem to think the brand is radioactive, and CTS sales have slid 41.1 percent this year. The good news is that Cadillac already has one of the most formidable luxury lineups in the world, so if buyers catch on, the brand should be just fine.
4. Subaru BRZ
Subaru is experiencing unprecedented success in the American market, with sales climbing for every model it makes – except for the BRZ, that is. Along with its identical twin, the Scion FR-S, the cars are the closest thing the Mazda Miata has to a competitor. Cheap, quick, easy to modify, and incredible to drive, the BRZ has long been considered one of the best handling cars in the world at any price, yet nobody buys them. With sales plummeting 39.6 percent this year, the fantastic BRZ is in serious danger of getting the axe, and that’s a shame. The automotive world would be poorer without it.
5. Audi Allroad
Introduced in 1998, the Allroad was one considered one of the first crossover vehicles. But as that market continues to heat up, the Audi’s go-anywhere wagon has gone cold, with sales sliding 33.5 percent in 2015. The Allroad’s car-like proportions, $42,400 base price, and Audi’s cheaper Q3 and Q5 models may all be contributing to the dip in sales, but hopefully it can survive long enough for Audi to introduce a next-generation model based on this year’s lovely Allroad Avant concept.
The most remarkable thing about this list is that none of these are bad cars. Some are past their prime, and some haven’t quite caught on, but they all make the automotive landscape that much more interesting (yes, even the Town & Country). If you’re looking for a car in any of these segments, and don’t mind standing out from the status quo, give these models a look.