Send in the clones

There are still a few people who get all bug-eyed when they see what I’m driving these days, and I endeavor to make them less impressed, usually by explaining that yeah, it’s an Infiniti, but when you get right down to it, it’s a Nissan with an overlay of glitz. Depending on how technical I want to get, I characterize this as either “badge engineering” or “platform sharing.”

Which, of course, suggests a question: where’s the line between the two? The infamous (and at the time ubiquitous) Chrysler K-cars were clearly badge-engineered: the difference between a Dodge Aries and a Plymouth Reliant was next to nil. On the other hand, there’s not so much resemblance between the Lincoln MKZ (formerly Zephyr) and the Mazda6, generally accepted as an example of a shared platform. Somewhere in between, Gwendolyn has the same floorpan and powertrain as a Maxima, but different sheetmetal at each end — the doors and roof are the same, I think — and a more extensive array of gadgetry. (And five extra horsepower, due to a larger two-stage muffler. Big deal.)

Still, this isn’t the sort of clear delineation I might have hoped for. Jonny Lieberman tossed out this question to TTAC readers, and this, I think, is the winner:

If my mom can tell that two related cars share parts, that’s badge engineering. If only the lunatics who discuss cars on the interwebs can tell, that’s platform sharing.

Of course, as one of the lunatics in question, I maintain that we don’t need no stinkin’ badges.


  1. McGehee »

    4 April 2008 · 11:31 am

    All I’m gonna say is, neither Mercury nor Lincoln ever offered a re-badged version of the Ford I drive.

  2. Prudie »

    6 April 2008 · 12:16 am

    I love re-badged cars. You get all the design of a more expensive car at a cheap car price. My first car was a Plymouth Reliant, 1986. I loved that car.

    I now drive a Kia Sportage, 2005. Which isn’t, in the strictest sense of the word, a re-badged car, but it is a knockoff of the more expensive Ford Escape, Volvo XC90 and BMW X5. I love it.

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