10 cars you won’t see on sale after 2015

June 30, 2014, 11:22 AM UTC
2014 Ford Flex
The 2014 Ford Flex seven-passenger crossover combines power, fuel economy, intuitive technology and driver-aid features in a can't-miss package. Courtesy: Ford Motor Co.

The Ford Mustang is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but where are the Pontiac Firebird, Plymouth Barracuda, or AMC Javelin? Long-lived car models are a rarity, and the changes coming with the beginning of the 2015 model are particularly bumpy.

When a nameplate is discontinued, multiple explanations are invoked: Its platform may have become obsolete, rendering future upgrades uneconomic (the reason Ford offered when it took the original Taurus out of production in 2007); Its body style may have fallen from fashion (such as full-size two-doors like the Chevy Monte Carlo); Or it may simply not have caught on with buyers (like the Honda Element).

Then there’s a CEO like Fiat Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne who likes to shuffle the deck–no nameplate is safe. His use of multiple brands combined with his insistence that FCA products be sold under only one brand apiece has caused him to eliminate many of the badge-engineered models that used to keep Chrysler and Dodge dealers afloat.

The following is list of models that have been declared defunct or are on the endangered list from FCA and a number of other automakers. They’ve suffered from a variety of ills, but they all share one thing in common: You won’t see them for sale in new car showrooms much longer.

1 Jaguar XK

Scarce resources are given as the reason behind Jaguar’s decision to halt production of the XK coupe and convertible after the 2015 model year. . The spiritual successor to the famed XK-E, the XK had been on the market since 2006, but Jag has decided to put its product development capital somewhere else. "We have other things that we need to spend our time and money on," a Jaguar executive told Automotive News. The success of the sportier F-type had taken some of the pressure off the statelier XF but also sopped up some potential sales. 

Courtesy: Jaguar

2 Chevrolet SS

Chevy thought it had exploited narrowing white space in its model lineup when it began importing the Commodore, a rear-drive sedan, from GM Holden in Australia and renaming it the SS. Powered by a V-8 Corvette engine, the SS won rapturous reviews from buff book writers, but didn’t fit in Chevy’s front-wheel-drive lineup, and with a base price of $44,470, it never found an audience. All but D.O.A. on arrival in 2013, the fate of the SS was sealed when General Motors (GM) decided to shut down production of the Commodore and everything else in Australia in 2017.

Courtesy: General Motors

3 Ford Flex

An innovative if unsuccessful attempt to blend SUV style with minivan packaging, the Flex has been on the endangered list almost since it went on sale in 2008. A cult favorite with young Californians, much as its Lincoln counterpart, the MKT, has been pressed into livery service as a car-for-hire, the Flex has never found the wide audience at which it was intended. Although Ford (F) hasn’t made any announcement regarding its fate, no replacement for the Flex or the MKT appears in John Murphy’s influential 2015-2018 “Car Wars” report.

Courtesy: Ford Motor Co.

4 Dodge Durango

2014 Dodge Durango

You would have figured Durango for a long run--and you would have been wrong. Surprisingly, it is being discontinued in 2016. The reason is less than intuitive: Dodge is being reconfigured as FCA’s performance division, and Marchionne figures he can squeeze more margin out of the Durango platform if it can be reconfigured into a three-row, seven-passenger Jeep. So the SUV that was attractively restyled as recently as a year ago will make its last appearance in 2015.

Courtesy: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

5 Dodge Grand Caravan

A Dodge Grand Caravan from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Dodge will drop another popular stalwart from its lineup in 2016 when the Grand Caravan is euthanized in favor of Chrysler’s Town and Country. A descendant of the original Dodge minivan introduced in 1984, the bargain-priced people hauler didn’t fit Marchionne’s definition of the new Dodge, and he figures he can find more profit by focusing his minivan sales on the higher-priced Chrysler model.

Courtesy: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

6 Chrysler 200 convertible

Production of the 200 convertible, the latest iteration of the old Sebring, ended last October. Convertibles are undergoing one of their periodic sales depressions, and with the phase-out of the previous 200 platform, FCA declined to invest in a new drop-top for the reengineered 2015 model.

Courtesy: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles 

7 Dodge Avenger

The Avenger nameplate, which enjoyed a short run from 1995-2000 as a coupe and was revived in 2007 as a four-door to replace the Dodge Stratus, has died for a second time. The platform that the Avenger shared with the old Chrysler 200 was discontinued, and FCA wants to focus its midsize business on the Chrysler brand going forward.

Courtesy: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles 

8 Acura TL

If you blinked, you missed it in Acura’s alphanumeric mashup, but the TL is being replaced by the new TLX midsize sedan. The TL was Acura’s bestselling car model in a division dominated by crossovers, and had been around since 1996. Longevity is no guarantee in the car business however. In yet another attempt to jumpstart Acura sales, the 2015 TLX with more aggressive styling goes on sale soon.

Courtesy: Honda Motors

9 Mini Cooper Paceman, Coupe, and Roadster

Since its launch in 2001, Mini has spawned nearly as many varieties as Heinz, and now it is going back to its roots. According to Automotive News Europe, BMW is retiring the three slow-selling models: Paceman, Coupe, and Roadster (above). That would still leave Mini with four variants, two of which, the hardtop hatch and the Countryman, account for 75% of its sales. Making fewer models should help Mini improve its perpetually dismal showing in JD Powers’ initial quality survey.

Courtesy: Mini

10 McLaren MP4-12C

Supercar makers like long production runs to amortize development costs over small volumes,but not McLaren. It ended production of the MP4-12C in April after only three years and 3,500 cars, and replaced it with a car called the 650S. Reason: Orders dried up for the old car as soon as potential buyers saw the new one. Prices start at $265,500 for the 650S, which will accelerate to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. The old MP4 takes just a tenth of a second longer and cost $35,000 less.

Courtesy: David Cooper/Toronto Star—Getty Images