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Badge Snobs Beware: Same Car, Different Name

By Stephen Turvil | November 24, 2014

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Car Makers Cut Costs By Reusing Design

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Badge snobs beware: did you know that motor manufacturers often design one car then sell it with a range of badges?

Their objectives are to minimise design and production costs, and create a portfolio of vehicles that appeal to a wide market from one, cost effective, concept.

The Volkswagen Group

The Volkswagen Group incorporates brands such as Skoda and SEAT - and produces city cars such as the Volkswagen up!, SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo. Such models are built in the same factory and share mechanical components such as the 1.0-litre 60PS, and 75PS, petrol engines. These city class vehicles are distinguished by their brand specific styling – as seen in our image gallery – trim levels, price and image. Image is a particularly important factor for many buyers. Some, for example, crave the prestige associated with the Volkswagen badge. These might happily purchase a Volkswagen up! but would never consider a Skoda. That, in comparison, is perceived as a non-pretentious budget brand which helps it appeal to those with different priorities. In contrast, buyers that like SEAT's sporty image can choose the Seat Mii. So, the VW Group attracts a wide range of customers with what is – in real terms - one design concept. Simply selling as (say) a VW could limit its appeal and reduce Group profitability.

Volkswagen Group And Ford

While today’s manufacturers are increasingly looking for economies of scale, the practice of putting different badges on the “same” car is nothing new. The Ford Galaxy, Volkswagen Sharan and SEAT Alhambra from the 1990s shared components too. These are large, multi-purpoise vehicles, with up to 7 seats. The Ford Galaxy uses Volkswagen engines such as the 2.8-litre VR6 petrol and the 1.9-litre TDI. The Galaxy interior – in its earliest form - also incorporates Volkswagen Group parts. Notable features include the Golf-derived instrument pack and most of the switchgear. The curved fascia moulding, in contrast, is inspired by the Ford Mondeo of the period. Ford has now distanced itself from the Volkswagen Group and its latest Galaxy is more closely related to the Ford Mondeo. However, the Sharan and Alhambra continue their association.

Peugeot, Citroen And Toyota

The Peugeot 107, Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo are also closely related. The Presidents of Toyota and PSA Peugeot Citroën - Fujio Cho and Jean-Martin Folz, respectively - decided in July 2001 to jointly create a new generation city car. The project was called B-Zero.

Production of all three vehicles began in 2005 at a factory in Kolin (Czech Republic).

Is it good for consumers?

Highly successful, the partnership highlighted the way that manufacturers targeting different demographic markets are increasingly able to meet the needs of target consumers. Whether that drives prices up or down for consumers is a moot point.

Sharing component design and production should mean that prices fall. But with different brands now often working together to offer what are effectively the same vehicles, there is arguably less reason to offer competitive pricing than ever before. 

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