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Buying a Car: Why Do Automakers Discontinue Car Models?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro September 2015

If you're interested in buying a car, you may have found that some models are headed for cancellation -- which can make them good deals -- while others merely get redesigned and keep the same name over many generations. But why do car models get discontinued? Why do some survive? And how can that knowledge help you if you're searching for a vehicle? We have some answers.

Reasons For Cancellation

There are a few reasons a car model might get canceled. One is simply that it's an old design and tastes have shifted, giving the automaker no reason to replace the vehicle with a newer one. A good example of this is the recently canceled Nissan Xterra, which debuted back when truck-based, body-on-frame SUVs were popular -- before the rise of the car-based crossover.

Another reason an automaker may cancel a vehicle is if it plans to replace the model with something entirely new. A good example of this is the Chevrolet Blazer, which was replaced with the far more modern Chevrolet Trailblazer in the early 2000s. In this case, Chevrolet gave its SUV a new look, new powerplants, new features and even a new size class -- so the automaker felt a new name was also fitting.

Finally, sometimes it seems like an automaker has canceled a vehicle when really that model has just been renamed. An example of this is the Infiniti G37 Coupe, which was recently renamed the "Q60." In this case, the model lives on, but Infiniti wanted to bring the coupe's naming in line with the brand's other models, such as the Q50 and Q70. In this case, the G37 Coupe wasn't really canceled -- just renamed.

How Can It Help You Buy a Car?

Now that you know why automakers cancel vehicles, you might be wondering how this information will help you if you're buying a car. Here's how: by knowing when a vehicle is being canceled -- and for what reason -- you might be able to get a better deal, or avoid buying an outdated car that's on the verge of replacement.

For instance: If you happen to like the Nissan Xterra, you can probably get a good deal on an outgoing model now that the SUV's cancellation has already been announced. If you had been considering a Chevy Blazer in the early 2000s, however, knowledge of the model's impending cancellation probably would've helped you avoid buying an outdated vehicle. That's because the Trailblazer was more efficient, more powerful, roomier and better equipped than the Blazer it replaced -- and drivers who chose the old Blazer instead of the new Trailblazer may have regretted their decisions.

Before you buy a car, do your research to find out how long that design has been on the market. If it has been four or five years, cancellation -- or at least replacement -- is possible. Also, do some Internet searches to make sure the model you're interested in isn't slated for cancellation. If rumors suggest that it might be, consider another more modern car that likely has a longer life left -- or be prepared to negotiate a great deal, as most dealers do their best to quickly clear out cars that are slated for the chopping block.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Buying a Car: Why Do Automakers Discontinue Car Models? - Autotrader