The automotive world is one where people develop fierce loyalties to brands they’ve come to trust. This loyalty is strongest in the pickup segment, but definitely spills over into everything from minivans to economy cars. Engineering a vehicle from the ground up is a long, complicated process (a car could enter design in 2012, be bought in 2015, but be marketed as the 2016 model year). Often times companies will “share” a vehicles platform, and sell the vehicle under two different names. This allows for two companies to get a new product in half the time, while gaining the benefits of working with another leading manufacturer. This process is known as “rebadging”, or taking the same car and tweaking them slightly (or sometimes, literally only rebadging the emblems) to create two models of the same car. Today, we look at famous (or infamous) examples of rebadged cars.
Spotting Twins – Rebadged Cars In The Wild
Rebadged cars can lead to a number of outcomes. It can let a struggling manufacturer attach their name to a good car, or the opposite, in that a good manufacturer soils their name with a bad product. It can lead to a better vehicle than either manufacturer could make on their own, or it could lead to a lemon for both companies. Lets start with a fairly obvious example of rebadging:
Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 – For years, automotive enthusiasts have been clamouring for a RWD sports car that is affordable for everyone. This vehicle was developed in partnership with Toyota and Subaru, and is being manufactured by Subaru. Affectionately nicknamed the “Toyobaru” the vehicle has been enjoying success as an entry-level performance option. The Toyobaru has won many car of the year awards, including being awarded coupe of the year by Jeremy Clarkson, beating out competition from Porsche, Lotus, and McLaren. The Subaru BRZ is available worldwide, the Scion FR-S is a Canada & US only model, while the Toyota 86 is sold in Asia, South Africa, South America and Australia. The only major differences between the models is the badge seen on the hood of the car.
Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra – While it’s no secret that GM owns both the Chevrolet and GMC brands, the fact that they produce two vehicles in a competing market is strange. Under the hood, both vehicles are identical. For many truck enthusiasts power is what’s important, and these two trucks offer completely identical drive trains (excluding different trims). The major difference between the Silverado and the Sierra is the amount GM sells. GM sells roughly three times more Silverados than Sierras, which can be attributed to their prices. The Sierra is sold as GM’s premium model truck, while the Silverado features a lower price.
Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix – Before Pontiac fell under the axe of GM’s bankruptcy in 2009, they managed to team up with the worlds leading manufacturer to produce the Pontiac Vibe, based on the Toyota Matrix. GM and Toyota have a long partnership, with companies frequently exchanging technologies and ideas. While brand loyalty can most easily be divided by domestic and import cars, the Pontiac Vibe (a domestic vehicle) and the Toyota Matrix (an import) are mechanically the same vehicle, with parts and engineering coming from both companies (but mainly Toyota). There are some large style differences between the two vehicles, and at first glance you may not notice that these are the same car. The advantage in this partnership went to GM, as the Vibe was sold for less than the Matrix and offered more base features, despite being the same car.
Mazda 2/Ford Fiesta/Toyota Yaris – Until 2014, the Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2 was a joint venture between the two companies. Ford has had investments in Mazda, and has owned a large share of the company at times. This lead to the co-developing of the B-car platform, which created the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta. Now that Mazda is looking to make it on their own, the partnership with Ford is ending, allowing both companies to create their own vehicles. The all-new Mazda 2 promises to be the best version yet, and with Ford unveiling options for Fiesta RS and ST trims, the future looks great for both companies small hatches.
Staring in the 2015 model year, the Mazda 2 and the Toyota Yaris will be the same. Mazda has been experiencing some incredible growth over the last few years, mainly from producing high quality low cost economy cars. This market has been traditionally dominated by Toyota. Toyota has had some troubles moving a satisfactory amount of Yaris’, and has decided that the model still retains value, but not enough to be developed in-house. Under the hood, the vehicles are identical. The partnership is great for both companies, in that Toyota cuts costs on creating a new Yaris, and Mazda gets to double its growth by appearing in Toyota dealerships as a Yaris. The Sky active engine will be supplied by Mazda.
Ford Taurus/Lincoln MKS – Many people are unaware of the revival of the Ford Taurus, and even more unaware that it has a luxury brand counterpart. Under the hood, the new Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS are identical. Where the differences begin is in the price, with the MKS costing $10k more as a base MSRP. Lincoln has always been Ford’s luxury brand, and this isn’t the first time a Lincoln has been sold as an upscale Ford. The Lincoln Navigator is an upscale Ford Expedition, with the same $10k increase to the base MSRP.
Knowing When To Compare
There are many other vehicles that share similar platforms, given that manufacturers often create more than one brand: Lexus is a luxury Toyota, Infinity is a luxury Nissan, Acura is a luxury Honda, Lincoln is a luxury Ford, Cadillac is a luxury GM and so on.
If you’re looking at vehicles, it’s important to note where it’s worthwhile to spend money on getting a different vehicle, and where you’re spending more on a vehicle that could be had for less. No matter your vehicle, you can count on AutoShack.com for high quality, low-cost parts!
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