The historic British automaker has grand plans for 2015, but it doesn't include the current and aged version of the Elise, the bones underpinning the Tesla Roadster, Hennessey Venom and several other exotic roadsters. Citing a lack of Toyota engines and toughening emissions rules, Lotus says U.S. buyers will have to wait a few years for an all-new Elise with Lotus-bred power. Lotus' move is the driving reason for the end of Tesla Roadster production as well, and why Tesla is pushing to get its new Model S sedan on the road next year.
The last rotary-engined car for sale in America, Mazda has vowed to revive Mr. Wankel's invention in the near future — despite its growing disadvantage in fuel efficiency and pollution with typical gasoline engines. The free-revving advantages of the RX-8 only lured 664 buyers this year through September, and Mazda only sold 1,134 last year.
Mitsubishi Eclipse, Endeavour
While the Endeavour was a moderately popular SUV at its peak, the death of the Eclipse might deserve a clip in the Oscars' "In Memoriam" segment. The Eclipse has been a mainstay of street racers across America thanks to its starring roles in "The Fast and the Furious" movies. Almost radical in its day, the Eclipse fell victim to Mitsubishi's financial woes and shift to more environmentally friendly models. The Illinois plant assembled its last Eclipse in August.
Volvo S40, Volvo V50
Ever since Volvo first arrived on American shores offering Swedish engineering, the company has sold some kind of station wagon, and the name "Volvo" still conjures for many the sight of a cream-colored 240DL with 130,000 miles trundling around Vermont with parking tags from several liberal-arts colleges. Sold by Ford to Chinese auto company Geely, Volvo has a bit of an identity crisis, with some of its leaders vowing to chase the world's best global automakers rather than hewing to its Nordic stoicism. With the S40 and V50 suffering slow sales, Volvo says it wants to focus on its SUV range, including the XC70, which is just the V70 wagon raised and given all-wheel-drive to qualify as a "truck" under U.S. fuel economy rules. When two roads diverge in a wood, automakers always take the one more traveled.