Badge engineering, sometimes called rebadging, is the practice of
applying a different badge or trademark (brand, logo or manufacturer's
name/make/marque) to an existing product (e.g., an automobile) and
subsequently marketing the variant as a distinct product. Due to
the high cost of designing and engineering a new model or establishing
a brand (which may take many years to gain acceptance), economies of
scale make it less expensive to rebadge a product once or multiple
times than to create different models.
The term badge engineering is an intentionally ironic misnomer, in
that little or no actual engineering takes place.
The term originated with the practice of replacing an automobile's
emblems to create an ostensibly new model sold by a different maker.
Changes may be confined to swapping badges and emblems, or may
encompass minor styling differences, as with cosmetic differences to
headlights, tail lights, front and rear fascias and outer body skins.
More extreme examples involve differing engines and drivetrains. The
term badge engineered does not apply to vehicles that share a common
platform architecture but are uniquely designed so that they may look
completely different from each other. This is achieved by not sharing
visible parts, and maintaining a host of underlying parts specific to
their respective applications.
Although platform sharing often involves rebadging, it also often
extends much further than that, as an automobile platform may be used
with many different applications; for example, using a single platform
as the basis for sedan and sport utility vehicle model variations.
Rebadging in the automotive industry can be compared with white-label
products in other consumer goods industries, such as consumer
electronics and power tools.
2 Different types
4 Luxury vehicles
5 Problems and controversy
6 Models produced under licence
7 See also
The first case of badge engineering began in 1917 with the Texan
automobile assembled in Fort Worth, Texas, that made use of Elcar
bodies made in Elkhart, Indiana.
"Probably the industry's first example of one car becoming another"
occurred in 1926 when Nash Motors' newly introduced smaller-sized Ajax
models were discontinued in 1926 after over 22,000 Ajax cars were sold
during the brand's inaugural year. The chairman and CEO of the
company, Charles W. Nash, ordered that the Ajax models be marketed as
the "Nash Light Six", Nash being a known and respected automobile
brand. Production was stopped for two days so Nash emblems, hubcaps
and radiator shells could be exchanged on all unshipped Ajax cars.
Conversion kits were also distributed at no charge to Ajax owners to
transform their cars and protect the investment they had made in
purchasing an automobile made by Nash.
Starting with the beginning of
General Motors in 1923, chassis and
platforms were shared with all brands. GMC, which historically was a
truck builder, began to offer their products branded as Chevrolet, and
vehicles produced by GM were built on common platforms shared with
Oldsmobile and Cadillac. Exterior appearances were
gradually upgraded between these vehicle brands. For 1958, GM was
promoting their fiftieth year of production, and introduced
Anniversary models for each brand; Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile,
Pontiac, and Chevrolet. The 1958 models shared a common appearance
on the top models for each brand;
Cadillac Eldorado Seville, Buick
Oldsmobile Starfire 98,
Catalina, and the
Chevrolet Bel-Air Impala.
Chevrolet Bel Air Impala Convertible
Oldsmobile 98 Convertible
1958 Buick Roadmaster Riviera
A later example was
Wolseley Motors after it was bought out by William
Morris. After World War I, the "Wolseley started to lose its identity
and eventually succumbed to badge engineering." This was repeated
with the consolidation of
Austin Motor Company
Austin Motor Company and the Nuffield
Organisation (parent company of Morris) to form the British Motor
Corporation. The rationalization of production to gain efficiencies
"did not extend to marketing" and each "model was adapted, by
variation in trim and accessories, to appeal to customer loyalties for
whom the badge denoting the company of origin was an important selling
advantage ... '
Badge Engineering', as it became known, was symptomatic
of a policy of sales competition between the constituent
Badge engineering often occurs when an individual manufacturer, such
as General Motors, owns a portfolio of different brands, and markets
the same car under a different brand. It may be done to expand the
ranges of different brands in one market without developing completely
new models, such as selling one car as a Chevrolet, a GMC and a
Cadillac by GM in the United States; for example, the
GMC Yukon and the
Cadillac Escalade. It may also be done to sell the
same model in different regions and markets simply under a different
name. For example, cars built by Daewoo, now owned by GM, are no
longer badged as Daewoos. Instead, they are now badged as Chevrolets.
Australia and New Zealand, where Daewoo was
unsuccessful, they are now rebadged as
Holden models. The Australian
car manufacturing industry experienced major badge reengineering
during the 1980s and 1990s as part of the failed Button car plan.
Holden VZ Monaro CV8Z
Vauxhall Monaro VXR
In Japan, Toyota,
Honda used this approach to expand
vehicle production by offering one car at multiple Japanese
Toyota took the Corolla, which was exclusive to Toyota
Corolla Store locations and sold it as the
Toyota Sprinter, which was
Toyota Auto Store locations.
Nissan followed suit with
Nissan Cedric, and sold an identical bodystyle of the Cedric,
Nissan Gloria, and sold the Cedric at
Store, while the Gloria was sold at
Nissan Prince Store.
pursued this marketing approach with the
Honda Accord, sold in 1984 at
Honda Clio locations and sold it as the
Honda Vigor at
locations. The difference to this method as opposed to the North
American and European implementation of selling one product under
different brand names with minor changes to exterior bodywork is that
the Japanese sold the same car under the same brand name, but with a
different model name.
Another way badge engineering may occur is when two separate companies
trade off products that each brand lacks in its line-up. A prime
example of this would be the first-generation
Honda Odyssey being
rebadged as an
Isuzu Oasis because
Isuzu needed a minivan, while the
Isuzu Rodeo was rebadged as the
Honda Passport because
Honda had the
need for an SUV. Another example is the Mitsubishi GTO/3000GT, which
was sold as the
Dodge Stealth in the North American market.
Badge engineering may occur when one company allows another, otherwise
unaffiliated, company to market a revised version of their product, as
Volkswagen marketing a re-skinned version of the
Dodge Caravan or
Chrysler Town and Country
Chrysler Town and Country as the
Volkswagen Routan, or the joint
venture of Mitsubishi and
Chrysler resulting in the short lived
Chrysler Town & Country, Generation V
Dodge Grand Caravan, Generation V
Two different automakers can also pool resources by operating a joint
venture to create a product, then selling it each as their own. For
General Motors and
Toyota formed NUMMI. The vehicles
produced from this venture (though not necessarily at
Chevrolet Prizm, and later the Toyota
Pontiac Vibe. Another example was the cooperative work between
Ford to create the VW Sharan,
Ford Galaxy and SEAT
Opel Sintra/Vauxhall Sintra
Buick GL8/Buick Terraza
General Motors used extensive re-engineering starting with the
Chevrolet Caprice to produce smaller and more efficient cars which
retained the nameplates and brand equity of larger cars, effectively
using the same name on an entirely new car. An alternative
strategy to give the impression of improving the efficiency of a new
car without the expense of engineering changes was to move the badge
of a larger car to a smaller vehicle, sometimes with mild styling
changes, as nameplates such as the
Ford LTD and
Plymouth Fury were
successively applied to smaller previously midsize and then compact
Badge engineering occurs in the luxury-type market segments. An
automobile manufacturer will use a model from its mainstream brand,
upgrade it with more features, technology, luxury and/or style, then
market it as a more expensive model under a premium marque. The luxury
models may have more than just cosmetic differences; they may receive
improved engines and drivetrains.
An example of this is that the
Ford Motor Company took its well-known
Ford Fusion, and sold it as the Lincoln MKZ, or the
being sold as the Lincoln Navigator. Another example is General Motors
Chevrolet Tahoe, a shorter version of the Suburban, as
Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon. An example of "Fake Prestige" was
the Cygnet city car marketed by Aston Martin, with a price of more
than $45,000 in its most basic version, but the vehicle was actually
Toyota iQ and, except for the Cygnet's special trim and special
luggage set, sold for $17,000.
The business strategy of
Volkswagen is to standardize platforms,
components, and technologies, thus improving the firm's profitability
and growth. For example,
Audi uses components from their more
pedestrian counterparts, sold as
Volkswagen Group's mass market
brands. As an effort to place
Audi as a "premium" marque,
Volkswagen introduces new technologies in Audi-branded cars before
fitting them to mainstream products (such as the Direct-Shift
Volkswagen uses platform sharing extensively.
For example, the basic A platform underpins the Golf, Jetta, New
Audi TT and A3,
SEAT Leon and Toledo, as well as the Škoda
Octavia, while the "top end" D platform served the VW Phaeton and
Bentley Continental GT in steel form, and the
Audi A8 in aluminum form
during the 2000s.
Japanese carmakers have followed this practice of rebadging as well,
such as Honda's
Acura line, Nissan's
Infiniti brand, and Toyota's
Lexus marque, as the entry-level luxury models were based on their
mainstream lineup. For example, the
Lexus ES shares the drivetrain and
is based on the same platform as the
Toyota Camry (and from the
2013 model year, on the stretched version used by the Avalon); the
Lexus LX is an upgraded rebadge of the
Toyota Land Cruiser, and the
Acura TSX is a rebadge of the JDM
Problems and controversy
Although intended to save development costs by spreading design and
research costs over several vehicles, excessive badge engineering can
be problematic if not implemented properly. Having multiple car brands
can greatly increase selling cost, as each brand must be marketed
separately and often requires its own dealership network. Badge
engineering can also hurt overall sales by resulting in "cannibalism"
between two or more brands owned by the same company, by failing to
develop a distinct image for each brand, or by allowing the failure of
one version of a model to carry over to its rebadged "siblings." The
failure of the short-lived Eagle brand sold by
Chrysler is often
attributed to it being crowded out by the company's other more
established divisions and the failure to effectively incorporate the
new marque into Chrysler's dealer network.
Origins of General Motors' badge engineering dates back to the early
1970s when the
Chevrolet Nova compact was rebadged by the upscale
Buick Apollo (Skylark after 1975),
Oldsmobile (Omega), and Pontiac
(Ventura II and Phoenix) divisions as entry-level cars. By the late
1970s, GM's downsized B-, C- and D-platform cars set the standard of
the inevitable when badge engineering and platform sharing were fused
together to trim excess production expenditures--similar-looking
bodystyles with distinctive appearances which was a trend throughout
the 1980s. This trend continued with subsequent platforms from the
J-car to its redesigned front-wheel drive full-size sedans - later to
include minivans, SUVs, and crossovers e.g. minivan versions of the
GM10 platform (Lumina APV, Trans Sport, Silhouette) along with the
Oldsmobile Bravada (an upscale variant of the S10 Blazer and Jimmy)
which was a competitor to the upscale variants of the Explorer
(Mercury Mountaineer, Lincoln Aviator) and Jeep Cherokee/Grand
Cherokee. The ill-received
Cadillac Cimarron is one of the most widely
cited examples of problems with badge engineering. The car was
essentially identical to the
Chevrolet Cavalier except for cosmetic
differences, which resulted in poor sales, as the company found few
buyers willing to pay nearly twice as much for a car that offered
little more than the Cavalier. This resulted in damage to the Cadillac
brand image. Other manufacturers have given badge-engineered cars
distinct branding and style, high-quality interior materials, wide
range of convenience features and performance powertrains, as these
are key to distinguishing them from mass-market equivalents and making
these appeal to consumers; successful luxury cars following this
formula include the
Acura TL, and
Audi A3. For
Toyota, "Camry's reliability and quality - and Lexus' dealership
experience" helped the
Lexus ES succeed in the market, but it
reinforced negative connotations of
Lexus vehicles being largely more
The Lincoln Navigator, derived from the
Ford Expedition, proved very
successful. However, the
Lincoln Aviator failed.
The fact that the Aviator was virtually identical to the Navigator in
all regards but size made it difficult to generate attention among
potential buyers, and the
Mercury Mountaineer had already proved
sufficient to cater to buyers wanting a slightly more upscale
alternative to the Explorer.
As the U.S. entered into a recession, the Big Three automakers
discontinued brand divisions as a cost-cutting measure. General Motors
Pontiac and Saturn models in 2010 (which was done
earlier when the
Oldsmobile brand disappeared in 2004), and
its Volvo division (which was previously a separate carmaker in its
own right) to the Chinese manufacturer Geely
Automobile (after it had
sold its other luxury brands of Jaguar, Land Rover, and Aston Martin).
Its Mercury brand was also phased out in December 2010.
In Indonesia, the Timor, derived from the South Korean Mazda 323-based
Kia Sephia, proved very controversial. The fact that the Timor was not
Indonesia but was imported completely built-up, stirred
up annoyance among the car companies, especially Toyota, that were
producing many vehicles in the country. The same problem arose in 2008
onwards, when the so-called national car "Esemka" was found to have
significant similarities to a Chinese car, the only different
components being the grill and emblem. Its two products, namely Esemka
Digdaya and Esemka Garuda 1, is believed to be rebadged
Foday F22 and
Foday Landfort, respectively. This made the Indonesian public, who
Indonesia to produce a national car, dissapointed.
Models produced under licence
A variant on rebadging is licensing models to be produced by other
companies, typically in another country. One example of this is the
British Hillman Hunter, which was license-built in
Iran as the iconic
Paykan, as well as Naza, building vehicles under license from Kia and
Naza 206 Bestari).
VAZ-2101 / Lada
Tofaş Murat 124
Another example of licensed badge-engineered products would be the
Volga Siber, a rebadged version of the
Chrysler Sebring sedan and the
Dodge Stratus sedan produced in Russia from 2008-2010.
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