Manufacturers experience a wide range of ups and downs over the years, but very few every reach a point where their very survival is questioned. Others are not so lucky, though. The difference between success and bankruptcy often depends on a single model, a vehicle so well designed that it manages to pull an automaker out of trouble all by itself.
Here are five vehicles that essentially saved their company, or at least allowed the manufacturer to develop other models and strengthen its position in the market.
Infiniti was not going anywhere in the early 2000s. With models like the QX4, G20 and Q45 in its lineup, it was virtually impossible for the Japanese luxury automaker to stand out from its German rivals.
Then in 2001, Infiniti introduced the G35, an entry-level luxury sedan that offered a powerful V6 engine at a very reasonable cost for the segment. The G35 was the first car that was not built in Germany to really compete with the BMW 3 Series. Sales were excellent as were the critics and Infiniti followed with the FX utility which was also very well received. The brand was back.
The Volvo XC90 did very well when it was introduced in 2002, but the problem is that it never really changed after. Indeed, it remained substantially the same until 2014, an eternity for a luxury SUV, especially since the popularity of SUVs exploded during this period. Meanwhile, Volvo introduced some successful models like the XC60 and the S60, but limited availability mitigated the impact of these vehicles.
In 2014, Volvo launched the second generation of the XC90. The latter has a modern and refined design, a luxurious and very upscale interior, and an on-road behavior that almost perfectly blends performance with comfort. This earned it several titles and awards, and Volvo has taken advantage of this success to develop a brand new XC60 in addition to introducing the all-new Volvo XC40.
Porsche was not necessarily in trouble when it introduced the Cayenne sport utility in 2002. Some would even say that it’s the Boxster that should get credit for solidifying Porsche’s position in the market.
That said, the popularity of the Porsche Cayenne took everyone by surprise, including Porsche probably. It gave the German manufacturer exponential cash flow which led to the development of several other models and countless versions of the legendary 911. Today, Porsche is one of the most profitable manufacturers on the planet.
Like Porsche, several models could be on this list including the XF and the recent F-Pace. Nevertheless, it is the F-Type that deserves to be here, especially because without it there is no guarantee that the XF and the F-Pace would get the attention they have today.
The Jaguar F-Type is not only sublime, but it is also very powerful in addition to having a unique sound that has no competition in the market. It’s a low-volume model, but a great flagship for the English brand.
Aston Martin DB7
Aston Martin has produced fabulous models over the years, but the brand had its share of difficulties in the early 1990s. Then, the British manufacturer unveiled the spectacular DB7 in 1994. Better still, in 1999, the V12-powered DB7 was born. A total of 7000 DB7 were sold, which allowed the development of DB9 and all DB models that followed.
Other models could also make this list, like the BMW New Class of models (1500, 1800, and 2000) that came before the 2002, the Dodge Omni, and the Ford Taurus of 1985.