Grinding Gears: Badge Engineering


You know when you are lazy and don’t do your homework so you ask your friend if you can copy theirs and they tell you yeah, but change just a little bit so we don’t get caught? Well that’s basically badge engineering. Basically you take a car that one company made, you then slap badges from a different car and sell it as a different car all together. The worst part is, that sometimes companies don’t even bother changing the model name at all and just make it a different brand of the same model name. Well needless to say badge engineering makes me want to puke and I definitely hate it, hence why its on Grinding Gears this week. I mean if your company can’t produce enough cars don’t have as many brands (hint hint on next weeks topic)! With that said lets look at some of the worst badge engineering jobs of all time, now keep in mind this is just my opinion so I will be sure to miss a few that other people will deem worse than the ones on my list and keep in mind that this list is in no particular order other than how quickly they came to my mind (it is not a traditional top 1-10 list). With that said, let’s take a walk down this sad and pathetic hall of shame!

We start the list off with GM and its multi truck line up of the Colorado from Chevy and Canyon from GM, that also spawned the Isuzu I series trucks. Basically the same truck with different grills and badges, basically no effort. Oh yeah, and all three sucked.

From there we continue on with GM as they didn’t even try on this one, and that is saying something as most of these show little to now effort. GM released the Chevy Malibu and then slapped some Oldsmobile badges on it and called it a different car in the Oldsmobile Cutlass. I mean these cars are basically identical.

Can GM strike again? Yup sure can! How about the Pontiac G5 and the Chevrolet Cobalt? Yup they continued their 90’s ways well in to the 2000’s as well. Come on GM, have some pride.

This one angers me on so many levels, the most important one being that my wife once owned a Chevy Aveo and the motor in it blew up at 30k miles, and, because of the old GM vs new GM BS that happened during the recession GM was not responsible for warranting the motor. Long story short though, this isn’t a Chevy Aveo, it is a Daewoo Kalos, a garbage bag of a car that GM decided to not rebadge once, but twice with the Pontiac G3 joining the mix as well. I mean come on GM, how do you make such a horrible mistake twice?

GM wasn’t the only one playing this sad game, as Chrysler too was guilty with the Dodge Stratus, Plymouth Breeze and Chrysler Circus eh I mean Cirrus. And don’t get me started on the Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth Neon triplets. I mean how lazy can you get here, they didn’t even change the name, I mean that’s like turning in your friends homework with their name still on it! To be fair that was essentially the Chrysler business model at the time with Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler basically badge engineering almost their entire lineups between each other. A few other examples are their minivans and full size sedans like the Dodge Intrepid. Chrysler and GM basically battled for the rebadging championship in the 90’s.

Don’t worry, I wasn’t going to leave you hanging on completing the big 3, how about some Ford action with the Ford Escape and the Mazda Tribute. Yeah as a Mazda fan I try to block out the years that Mazda was under the control of Ford as it brought in some dark times for the brand.

A fairly common theme here is American companies selling the same vehicle under multiple different brands under the same umbrella and from time to time taking in a super cheap and crappy car from oversees and selling it as their own (think Chevy Aveo and Ford Aspire). But what is super strange to me is when it is the other way around (Check out the title image for this article). Toyota, a company that has been killing the compact game with cars like the Corolla for whatever reason once decided to import the Chevrolet Craptacular, er I mean Cavalier and to rebadge it as a Toyota and then sell it in Japan, I’m not sure what drugs they were on to make this decision but I am sure that they were very potent and that there were a lot of them.

Here is the deal badge engineering has once in a blue moon resulted in something cool and great (maybe I need to explore this further) but for the most part is is just a sad and lazy attempt at making money and really just makes a company look like a jackass, so can we all agree that it just needs to stop so we can stop Grinding Gears? See you all next time!

the authord.pecenkovic
Editor In Chief
Damir Pecenkovic is a passionate car enthusiast, photographer, race car driver, graphic designer, computer nerd, video editor and basketball player all rolled up in to one. Damir is currently the owner of DecalCutter.com and ShutterVelocity.com and is the founder and previous Editor in Chief of Performance Tuner Magazine. Damir currently drives the #19 Mazda MX-5 Miata for Circuit94 Racing. Damir loves to discuss cameras, computers and cars so jump in and join the conversation.

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