We recently created a series of illustrations showing European Cars Americanised – focusing on how European car manufacturers could adapt their cars to better appeal to an American audience. This got us contemplating the reverse scenario. In the second part of our series focusing on the relationship between Europe and America when it comes to cars - we investigate the cars that American’s love, but don’t sell very well when it comes to the European market.
We chose 8 of our favourite cars from across the pond that we wish were more of a common sight on European roads.
The Ford Mustang is a classic American muscle car, with the first edition being created in 1964. The Mustang was responsible for creating the “pony class” of American muscle cars, which are typically sporty coupes identifiable for both their long hoods and short rear trunk. The car is so popular that in August 2018, Ford celebrated production of their 10 millionth Mustang. The success of the Mustang lead to competitors entering the market, such as the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger. American’s love the Mustang for its famous V8 engine and iconic design.
As the sales figures show, the Mustang has not enjoyed quite the same success in the European market, with just over 7,000 sold since 2000. However, in the US, American’s love their Mustang, with Ford never having failed to sell below 65,000 in a single year.
The two door Chevrolet Corvette has now been in production for over 60 years and has proven to be a mainstay of American motoring industry, being widely known as “America’s Sports Car”. In 2019, Chevrolet will release the eight generation of the Corvette; the Stingray, which has a staggering reported 0–60 time of just 3.7 seconds. After starring in the 1960’s TV show Route 66, the Corvette became known for freedom and adventure - an image that the car still retains to this day in the US.
Although the Corvette has shown brief signs of sparking into life in Europe, sales trends have continuously plateaued around the 700 per year mark. This is in stark contrast to the US market, with Chevrolet selling around 20,000 units of the sports car in 2018.
A four-wheel drive off-road SUV, the Jeep Wrangler has been on roads since 1986. The Wrangler is said to descended from the original army Jeeps used during WW2. The Wrangler is the model most central to Jeep’s identity, similar to how the 911 is for Porsche. The overall look and feel of the Wrangler has more or less remained unchanged since it was first manufactured in 1986, a testament to the classic design and mass appeal of the vehicle.
Even after three decades, the Wrangler continues to grow its user base in the US, and in 2018 over 240,000 units were sold. However, Jeep continuously struggles to gain a foothold in Europe with not only the Wrangler, but with the Cherokee, Renegade and Compass models.
The Pathfinder, an SUV manufactured by Nissan, was originally introduced to roads in 1986. Now in its fourth generation, the Pathfinder has had several facelifts over the years, introducing a four-door model in 1990, a revised front grille in 1999 and restyled headlights and taillights in 2017. The SUV market in the US is currently booming and the Nissan Pathfinder has gleefully ridden that wave, from selling under 20,000 per year in 2009 it's popularity skyrocketed to nearly 90,000 in 2013.
At first glance, you would expect the Pathfinder to do well in Europe due to the popular Nissan brand and the upsurge in SUV sales. Indeed, the SUV enjoyed some moderate success in Europe between 2004 and 2008, but since then sales have tailed off dramatically.
A high-end SUV, the Cadillac Escalade is synonymous in the US with luxury and quality, the SUV has been on sale since 1998 and was Cadillac’s first foray into the SUV market. The Escalade was named after the medieval wartime tactic of scaling walls of castle’s with ladders or siege towers, something they perhaps thought might appeal to the European market. Updated several times since it’s first inception, the Escalade remains one of the go-to luxury SUV’s in America, selling around 25,000 in 2018.
However, in Europe, the Escalade has not enjoyed anywhere near the same level of success, perhaps due to Europeans unfamiliarity with the Cadillac brandand the high volume of competitors it faces across Europe.
The Hummer H3 enjoyed a cult status when it was on sale between 2005 and 2010 due to its military roots. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously oversaw an army convoy featuring a Hummer while filming a movie and insisted that there be a road legal version created. Billed as an all action off-roader, the H3 was larger than the H1 and H2, with a modified and reinforced chassis for harsh environments. It's many celebrity owners including Mike Tyson, Tom Clancy and Coolio added to the Hummer’s popularity.
Despite this, the H3 didn’t have the same appeal in Europe. Throughout its life cycle, Hummer only managed to sell just over 2,500 across the continent. After the H3’s initial booming success, it was discontinued in 2010, however with it’s unqiue design, size and Hollywood links the cult status of the oversized SUV remains ever present in popular culture.
Infiniti, the luxury division of Japanese automaker Nissan, isn’t a common sight on European roads, this being especially true for the QX50. Despite this, GQ magazine has named the QX50 as one of the top 10 luxury SUVs on the road for three years in a row. In the previous two years, Infiniti have sold just one of the crossover in Europe, compared to more than 40,000 in the US. However, the popularity of this SUV shows no signs of slowing in the States, selling over 25,000 in 2018, its most popular year to date.
In fact, Infiniti are having such a hard time of it in Europe that they recently announced they will be withdrawing their entire line-up from the region in 2020, with the automaker saying that they will focus their efforts on the US and Chinese markets from 2021.
The Toyota Camry has long been a best seller in the US, enjoying 340,000 new registrations in 2018, the seventh most of any car in the country. Known as Toyota’s second “world car” after the Corolla, the Camry has not been sold in Europe since 2003, however things are about to change. Toyota are bringing back the mid-size saloon in 2019, with a reported value starting price of £30,000. The Camry is loved by Americans for its reliability and low MPG.
During the Camry’s 16-year hiatus from Europe, Toyota have enjoyed an ongoing success in the US, annually selling around 370,000 units of the model. With this in mind, coupled with Toyota's undoubted global strength, it will be very interesting to see how the three quarters of a billion Europeans re-take to the 2019 model this year.
*Sales figures are sourced from Carsalesbase.