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Fighting for Figures: It’s All We Niche.

Chris Haining October 15, 2015 All Things Hoon 14 Comments

Ford of Europe have recently announced that, starting on the 30th February next year all models of Mondeo apart from the forthcoming ST-Xross series (shown above) will be axed. It turns out that rivals with off-road ability, or at least the look of it, were impossible for the company to ignore any further.

Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Europe told Redusernab “It’s really not fair. Our cars are awesome, but some taller, more muscular cars look much cooler when reflected in storefront windows, so people are buying them instead. It’s making me feel sad” or something. So he decided, screw it, we’re only going to sell cars which look a bit like 4x4s from this point onwards.*

All lies, of course, but I honestly can see something like that happening. I’m not saying it ever will, but it’s the kind of crazy product planning manoeuvre that goes on. Sometimes it’s better to grab a narrow niche and exploit it than to just offer a variation of what everybody else sells.

The tricky bit is in identifying the niche.

Mercedes-Benz are recent gate-crashers to a very exclusive party that BMW started hosting back in 2009. That was when some drunken members of their R+D team took a belt sander to the rear end of an old clay model of the X5 and didn’t stop until they had created a modern day successor to the AMC Eagle SX4. Only bigger. And uglier.

The X6 was born. And then, BMW started actually selling it. Next, and most ridiculously of all, people started buying them. You now find them all over the place, often being driven extremely badly. People can even buy an “M” version if they want to drive badly and really fast.

It took fully six years before Mercedes did the same thing to the ML to create the GLE Coupé, which is now high on the must-have list of impressionable folk hungry to be tied into crippling finance agreements the world over. It’s a niche. A slim one, but it’s one that two of the world’s biggest names are pleased to occupy.

I couldn’t have predicted X6, let alone the GLE Coupé.

So now it’s your turn. It’s time to offer your collective wisdom to those influential industry representatives who read every word of every feature Redusernab hosts. They need your help, your guidance. Your inspiration. Either type your answer, or, if you can slyly misappropriate sufficient office-time, knock together a quick p-chop. Extra points for MS-Paint renderings.

What niche can you think of which needs exploiting?

(Lead image copyright Redusernab Industrial Espionage division 2015. Other images BMW / MB Media Depts)

*Jim Farley said no such thing.

  • Citric

    Well clearly there will be tall coupe backlash and we’re going to see people go the opposite, short wagons.

    • CraigSu

      The Virgo wheels and the tail lamp assembly finally clued me in to this vehicle beginning its life as a 240 wagon. I had to look twice though, and I’ve owned a 240 wagon for 22 years.

    • ramLlama

      I can totally see car manufacturers doing this. “Well, we tried regular size struts, and everyone went to the pseudo-offroaders. I know! Chop the top.”

  • bigredcavetroll

    I think automakers are almost there, but they just need a push over the edge to get these types of cars to where they really need to be. What they need is, as you mentioned, vehicles like the AMC Eagle SX/4, but more Mad-Max in their design philosophy. Make something like the AMC Eagle, but give it an actual solid front axle, with lockers front and rear, give it a real transfer case, a mid-travel suspension, and some power for it, like, a modern small block with a 6-71 style blower sticking out of the hood. Heck, they could take their existing platforms and modify them like this. They’d sell like hotcakes. Maybe.

    • Tiller188

      *ahem*.

      Granted, it’s got fancy-shmancy independent A-arms up front and is RWD, but it was the first thing to mind when I read your description.

      • bigredcavetroll

        I really like those, actually, and that’s kind of where I got that idea from.

      • Manic_King

        The French were at it already in 1992 though. The MEGA TRACK, 395 hp from MB V12:

    • Tiller188

      And to establish the Mad Max cred:

  • 1977ChevyTruck

    I think their would be a niche for a true MPV:

    Take a modern pickup truck. Give it a range of removable roofs, like the Scout had:

    And put in removable seats in the back, like a minivan.

    Basically a Scout/Bronco/Blazer/4Runner/Jimmy/Ramcharger/Jeep revival, but make it more modern, more car-like/less agricultural.

    Then sell it it with various tire/rim combos.

    33″ mudders for the rednecks
    33″ chrome low-profiles for the wannabee pimps
    15″ steelies for farmers/construction workers
    16″ alloys for everyone else.

    • ??????

      Profit!

  • duurtlang

    Very brown mid engined sports cars seating 3 people should make a comeback. Especially if they’re made by the French.


  • Alff

    Cab forward car-based pickups.

    • They are the future. Go ahead and prove me wrong.

      • Tiller188

        Well, they’re certainly forward-looking.

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