Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Correcting a Corporate Mistake (Badge Engineering Reversed)

As many of you know, I recently sold my 2003 Volkswagen Bora Sportline 1.8T (Jetta IV Turbo w/180ps) and took delivery of a 2005 "Suzuki Reno". I really enjoy the car, it reminds me of how I prefer my driving experiences; In touch with the car, receiving feedback when accelerating, braking, cornering, etc., as opposed to pure isolation. As cars (both models and manufacturers) have achieved popularity, they've become over-burdened with extra weight, electronics and plushness which only serve to isolate said driver from the very action that one is to do in an automobile. Drive.

Back to the issue at hand though, I have this "Suzuki Reno" listed in the aforementioned quotes because while technically it is sold as a Suzuki, the car is a General Motors product. It is sold in Europe as a Chevrolet Lacetti, China as a Buick Excelle HSV, Korea as a GM Daewoo Lacetti, Africa, Canada and Malasia as a Chevrolet Optra. Yes, Suzuki does parter with GM and is indeed part owner of the GM Daewoo manufacturing facilities, however that is only in part because GM has ownership in Suzuki as a whole, just as with Subaru, et al.

I recently (thanks to the wonderful help of GM of Canada and Tom Smith Chevrolet in Ontario in helping me to aquire the necessary tidbits (for a wonderful price I might add) of converting my car back to the way it should've been sold in the United States; As a Chevrolet.

If Chevrolet is going to put its name on this product all over the world, why can't they put it on its product in the US. People love the Aveo (Kalos). I'm sick of badge engineering and name changing from market to market. Personally, I'd've liked to have seen the Lacetti name used (afterall, they are Italian designed bodies (interior and exterior), so it isn't outlandish an idea).

I've taken matters into my own hands. Yes, I will be converting the Suzuki logo covered grille over to the factory Chevrolet badged grille, and yes, the rear logos will be coming off of the car and will be replaced with the factory Chevrolet parts. This is my own little protest against the stupidity of badge engineering. If Daewoo still existed as a sovereign corporate entity, they would be badged as such, but as it stands, they are Chevrolets, powered by GM Opel designed, GM Holden built Family II, 16v DOHC 2.0l motors (in North America as a whole (The rest of the world gets 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, Supercharged 1.8, and as of 2006 Diesel options)).

Aside from that, the chevy grille is nicer than the Suzuki grille. I also like how the badge placement is different for every other version of this car than the Suzuki. The Suzuki places the "Suzuki" nameplate on the lower left of the rear (under the tail light just above the bumper) and the "Reno" (stupid name) badge right above the bumper on the far right side of the rear). Everywhere else, the car name (Optra 5) is located on the thin strip above the hatch release handle right below the rear window and just to the left of the center of the car, with the Chevrolet plate being symmetrically placed on the right side. It looks nicer over all.

People may wonder, and I gather some Chevy V8 heads are going to feel annoyed that a Chevrolet name is on yet another small hatchbatck (a beautifully designed one I might add) as opposed to an obnoxiously oversized car and/or SUV (Stupid Unnecessary Vomitmobile). This is where we should be heading. A family hatchback with good looks, reasonable 4 cylinder motors and nice interior space. We need more of these than SUV's. Yes, yes, you can have your new Camaro and the venerable Corvette as well, but they are specialty cars, and quite impractical, but that's the buyers choice, but at least they are purpose built and used. Too many SUV's are still driven by one person, with no real need for the "utility" part of its 'function'. Back to topic.

Louis Chevrolet was not an American he was Swiss born and French raised for the first third of his life, and while he (along with his older brother Gaston) was a cracking good racecar driver, he was still a down to earth persons-person. His idea was affordable yet good cars with a sense of style, performance and reliability. General Motors has proven they can do this, more so in the rest of the world than here (much like Ford has (neither being particularly good when it came to the style and reliabilty portions, though that is changing), it is only fair that they stop the bullshit and knock off the badge engineering, pull up their socks, drop some lines, bring focus to those which remain and don't pretend that Saab makes a V8 SUV, or that the swedes as a whole for that matter would want one. Lets not pretend that there is such a thing as a Chevrolet Forester (as is sold in Asia), and finally, Holden designed the Monaro, not Pontiac, forgetting calling it a GTO and pissing fan boys off, sell it as a Holden Monaro at GM Dealerships if you chose, but enough is enough with calling a Rose a Tulip in one Country and something else in another, it is stupid and hopefully people will wise up enough to not buy it.

I apologise for the haphazard manner in which these ideas were strewn together, but I hope I was able to get my point across and that those who have read this, got the gist of what I was trying to convey.

Bravo, well said. On THIS I agree 99% with you.

Although I will always remember what my Marketing professor in College told me about the Chevy Nova, and why it couldn't be sold under that name in Spanish speaking countries. Nova sounds too much No Va, which is loosely No Go .
Yeah, i was always amused by that one. Obviously companies which use generic alphanumeric naming conventions won't have the "NoVa" issues, but how often does that really happen, especially amongst Western market company names.

I was more so bothered by the actual corporate branding exchanges, making a Chevy a Suzuki, and a VW a Toyota (yup), and a Chevy as a Toyota (in Japan), etc. or even worse, remember there were 5 different companies selling what was essentially a Cavalier? That is ludicrous. Much the same as how Ford and Mercury sell slightly different versions of the same cars, just a bit more dressed up for Mercury. Make it one or the other, either it is an up range car, or it isn't, don't try to make it both, focus, focus, focus (and I'm not talking about the Ford Focus).

Your thoughts?

Again, I agree with much of what you say. Badge engineering in general is not a great idea. I too well recall the J cars from GM (Cavalier to Cimaron and all between) And the Escort/Lynx(Tracer) and of course how many permutations of the Bora (Jeta) do you need? (Seat & Skoda)

The idea of selling a Chevy/Suzuki/Daewoo is unique in a way, because unlike Ford who sell under the same name in all markets, GM has so many subsidiaries around the world and partnerships, that it can be dificult to unravel the thread.
You have a point about the Laceti (sp?). At least they did away with Geo.

Ford is aa guilt of badge engineering and dilution of brand as anyone, with the new Fusion/Milan/Zephyr/Mazda6/Edge/CX7/Aviator(MKX) 500/Montego/MKS.

What surprises me is the constant call for a Mercury or Lincoln version of the Mustang on message boards and blogs. Further dilution, that didn't work in the past when they took the Ford Capri name and slapped it on a Mercury Mustang.

Oh what a tangled web the industry weaves, with Hondas that have been rebadged Isuzu and vice versa (Rodeo/Pilot) and Pontiacs that are Toyota (Vibe/Matrix), but what to do?
As a side note, the Bora and Golf variants by Seat (and Skoda) to a degree actually do use different sheet metal, and interiors differ oft time more than not from the VW brethren. Seat variations usually have a much smoother body with more curved lines and what not.

When do we cross the line of badge engineering and building a different car based on another's underpinnings? The GM J cars really were badge engineering. Throwing chrome and an egg crate grill on the front of a Cavalier did not a Caddy make.

The whole funny part about Geo was that they were Suzuki vehicles, but not only that, they were Suzuki's that Suzuki weren't selling at their own dealers during the same years. Why would Suzuki have chosen to NOT sell the Swift (and Swift GTi) while letting Chevy sell it as a "Geo". Suzuki had cars and they weren't selling them at their dealers opting to sell mainly trucks. Now all their doing is the exact thing GM did with Geo. Selling GM cars to fill the gap in their product line (in the US) which they themselves allowed to be created.

Even more interesting regarding some of the badge confusion. The Pontiac Vibe is a Toyota, and in Canada (where they do have the Vibe), they also have the Pontiac Wave which is a GM Daewoo Kalos. Technically, that's two vehicles (neither designed (in their current incarnations) by GM but sold as Pontiacs, at least in the US the Kalos gets sold as a Chevy (like the rest of the world)

Remember back in the late 80's when Rover sold cars in the US as Sterling which amounted to Honda Legends with Connolly leather interiors and electrics by Lucas (go uphill the windows go down, go downhill the windows go up, unless it is raining, in which case they stay down whether you hit the switches or not).

Note: This is not like Lotus using the drivetrain of the MR2 spyder for US Emissions legalities. That car is still a Lotus, drives like one, and isn't sharing anything else with the MR2 spyder.

Thanks for you input.


They sell the aveos here in the US ?
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