Batman and Robin, Bonnie and Clyde, some of history's most dynamic duos. To this list I would add the Toyota Camry and Corolla, and the Honda Accord and Civic. These four cars have caused more headaches for Detroit than any other vehicles ever made. What has Detroit offered as competition to these perennial best-sellers? Let's take Chevrolet from 1983 to 2005 for example.
Eight nameplates in comparison to two each from the Japanese. Only the last three are around today, the rest having faded into obscurity. If you owned a Celebrity or Corsica,and liked the car, what does Chevy offer you today? My mother has owned three Corolla's, she doesn't even bother to test drive 'em anymore. When it's time for a new car she goes to the Toyota dealer and picks the color and options she wants. There's no wondering if new model will meet her needs, no trying to decipher what name is the equivalent of the last car.
The reason the Camry and Corolla, Accord and Civic are still around is that the manufacturers never stop improving them on a timely basis. Each generation has been better than the last (although the loss of the double-wishbone suspension on the Civic is really a downgrade), instead of leaving the cars the same to get as much profit from the design as possible.
In other words, the profit comes from the continual advancement of the product, not a continous focus on the profit. Letting a vehicle get stale in the marketplace, and redisigning only when profits start to fall (a la Ford Taurus) or bringing out the next model while keeping the old in production ( Celebrity to Lumina) only diminishes the value of the name. GM has been smart by bringing back the Malibu and Impala names, but the Citation, Celebrity, and Lumina names should never have existed in the first place. The new Cavalier has to be called the Cobalt to avoid the negative association with the previous version. A car's name should be timeless, not a flash in the pan.
2 hours ago