Australia, with its long list of carmakers and much longer list of models, offers up no end of competition in almost every segment of the new car market.
But with a population of only 24 million there isn’t always room for all of those models, and, as they say, nothing lasts forever (and some last not very long at all).
The local market said farewell to its fair share of cars during 2015. Some, very few, will be missed, while others prompted a ‘was that still for sale?’ response.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, and some models merely experienced change rather than extinction.
Take Kia’s decision to drop the manual model from its Soul hatch range, for example, leaving the Soul with just a single variant on the Australian market (Kia even trimmed the list of available colours).
Kia also cut the diesel-powered Rondo from its range, leaving two petrol-powered options matched with an automatic transmission.
But while we’re on the subject of Kia, we’ll kick things off with the Kia pro_cee’d GT.
Vale Kia pro_cee'd GT
One of the more recent casualties of 2015, the pro_cee’d GT was Exhibit A in why people-power and hollers from the gallery of public opinion doesn’t always translate into sales.
Kia’s wave of success in the local market over recent years led to inevitable calls for a ‘proper’ sports model, and the pro_cee’d GT duly delivered.
But it seems the effort of operating a clutch pedal is now beyond most of the Australian population. And that sealed the pro_cee’d’s fate.
The manual-only model with its three-door body couldn’t keep up with sales expectations, so Kia cruely slashed it from the local line-up.
Complicating matters, however, is the Kia Cerato Koup Turbo, which is available with the Australian-compulsory automatic transmission in a similar three-door body and with an identical turbocharged four-cylinder engine to that of the pro_cee’d.
Despite these features, Koup sales are struggling even more than the pro_cee’d was, but sales may pick up now that the Koup is standing alone.
Arrivederci Fiats Panda and Punto
Both were cut due to poor sales, and for the Punto, it was second-time-unlucky in its attempt to stir up interest with local buyers.
Au revoir Citroen C3
According to importer Sime Darby, the C3 proved too expensive and under-equipped in the ultra-competitive light car market.
Citroen has left the door open for an all-new C3 to return to local shores one day, but that crack in the door is a narrow one, and the C3 is on permanent hiatus for now.
Sayonara Toyota Rukus
Despite another all-conquering year for Toyota in Australia, not every model could 'do-no-wrong' as the carmaker culled the quirky Rukus from its local range.
Well, we say ‘culled’, but it’s more of a ‘last drinks’, as Toyota has imported one final shipment of Rukuses which means the model remains in the line-up until stocks are exhausted.
On your way Holdens Volt and Captiva 5
One car that is definitely out-of-stock is Holden’s Volt range-extended electric vehicle.
The all-new, second-generation Volt was unveiled at the start of this year, but Holden soon confirmed that the new model will not be built in right-hand-drive meaning we won’t see it in Australia.
General Motors also debuted the smaller (and cheaper) Bolt EV in 2015, and the Bolt is still a possibility for Australia at some stage.
Holden cut the Captiva 5 from its SUV range late in the year, but the strong-selling Captiva continues in updated form in the Captiva 7 body (with the ‘7’ dropped from the name).
The Captiva 5 was in rare territory as an SUV model to see change, with the local SUV market going from strength-to-strength in 2015.
But as far as SUV casualties go in Australia for 2015, that’s about it; proving how strong the local market is.
Pack your bags Alto, CR-Z, Accord Euro, Fluence, Expert, MiTo and MINI twins
A pair of Honda models had a somewhat quiet exit from the Australian market this year, with the hybrid Honda CR-Z bidding farewell in February.
And though Honda Australia would have loved to see it continue, production for the Accord Euro ended this year - a model that is being discontinued world-wide and which is unlikely to be replaced.
A quiet exit was also on the cards for the Renault Fluence this year. The model had chalked up zero sales in 2015 at the time it was deleted, and just 124 sales last year.
The last of Peugeot’s local stocks for its Partner and Expert vans were sold this year, but the new Partner (unveiled in February) at least is under consideration for a local debut.
Also in short supply is the Alfa Romeo MiTo. The model has been removed from Alfa’s local website, and just one sale was registered last month.
As predicted, MINI began streamlining its range during 2015 and the Coupe and Roadster models were the first to exit the line-up.
The MINI Paceman is also expected to feel the surgeon’s knife at some stage, but the model survives in the local range for now.
THE YEAR AHEAD
For some models in Australia (that we know of), their last Christmas has passed and their final New Year’s is approaching.
Buyers looking to secure one of the last-ever Land Rover Defenders may have already missed the boat, as worldwide production of the iconic 4WD is due to cease any day now.
The Defender may be back one day - as either an all-new model or a rebadged effort if Land Rover sells the tooling to another carmaker. But for devoted fans of the original, the clock is ticking fast.
Another icon knocking on death’s door in Australia, and in every other market, is Mitsubishi’s fabulous Lancer Evolution.
The Final Edition model is on sale now, but once the run of 150 units is sold it’ll be goodnight to the performance sedan forever.
In the ‘maybe’ pile are Jeep’s Patriot and Compass models. The pair is due to be replaced with a single model in 2016, likely to wear the Compass name.
An all-new Compass could appear at the Geneva Motor Show in March, but whether Australian buyers will have the chance to buy it before New Year’s Eve, 2016, remains to be seen.
Therefore, both the current Compass and Patriot may yet serve another full year in Jeep’s local range.
We’ll save the final words of this car eulogy for Australia’s own Ford Falcon.
Yes, the Ford Territory is on the way out as well, but it’s fair to say that the majority of tears shed will be reserved for the Falcon.
Most people would be aware that 2016 will be the last year on Planet Earth for the Falcon badge, as Ford has already confirmed that the name will be retired.
Ford has also confirmed that the ‘Sprint’ name will be revived for at least one last Falcon hurrah, and Ford may yet have another surprise in store for local fans next year.
But one thing’s for sure - the Ford Falcon has entered the final straight and is powering towards the finish line of its long Australian journey. And only a click-of-the-fingers will pass before it’s gone for good.
Image, top of page, via Dave Reichert.
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