It happens all the time. Vehicles that seem to be an important part of an automakers lineup get the axe while other, less-worthy vehicles soldier on for years to come. Take the Dodge Viper as an example. The car was a performance icon, and it had just set numerous lap-time records at different well-known racetracks around the world, but it still got the axe.

Many times it comes down to profit margins and the number of sales a particular vehicle is making. But is the number of vehicles sold the only factor in determining why some vehicle’s live and others die? With the shift to crossovers and fewer traditional cars on the market, we thought it worth it to take a closer look at why automakers kill models.

Poor Sales Usually Contribute

Dodge Viper profile view at a racetrack

If a car or truck doesn’t sell, then you can bet it won’t be around very long. That said, not all cars have to sell at super high numbers. Instead of making hundreds of thousands of sales, the model just has to reach expectations of the automaker and be cost effective.

A perfect example of this is the Toyota 86. Toyota knows it won’t sell as many 86s as it will Camrys. It has managed its expectations and found a way for the model to make sense within its lineup. That said, if the car company sold fewer 86s than it planned to, you can bet the car would be, well, eighty-sixed. Toyota couldn’t keep it around if it didn’t meet sales expectations.

There are Other Reasons For Cancellation

Kia Forte Coupe

Sales may be one of the biggest reasons a car company kills a model, like with the Kia Forte Koup shown above, but it’s not the only reason. According to an article in Road and Track by former auto executive Bob Lutz, there are several reasons a car company may choose to end a model’s run, including shifts in the market, government regulations, and other business issues.

Lutz recounts a story where Chrysler had to kill off a full-sized SUV that would probably have sold well due to the fact that it would have negatively impacted the corporate fuel-economy too much. Lutz notes that factors outside the company's control are often the culprit for a vehicle's cancellation.

Chrysler Aspen SUV front end

Economic booms and busts impact automakers offerings just as much as other companies. If gas prices were to skyrocket, you can bet that many companies would kill off some of their larger, less fuel-efficient models in favor of smaller higher mile-per-gallon machines. It doesn’t matter how comfy, practical, and all around good those big SUVs are. The bottom line is that a vehicle has to make business sense to be produced. If it doesn’t, it’s getting the axe.