What is badge engineering?
Gone are the days when every model of car was completely different from any other model. In today’s day and age of tough economy and optimum efficiencies, alliances have been formed that turn out to be win-win situations for not only the manufacturers forming them, but also for the buyers. While shared assembly lines and manufacturing resources are increasingly being seen, the most common spin-off from these alliances are what are now being termed as ‘badge engineered’ vehicles. The idea is simple, but also extremely smart at the same time.
Off late we have seen many cars that are almost entirely identical to another model from a different manufacturer. Take the Volkswagen Vento and the Skoda Rapid for example – essentially the same car under the very slightly different bodywork, both models offer the same mechanical specifications throughout their variant ranges. Of course, subtle differences exist – the two cars have their own distinct family design themes to hold forth after all. Another great example of this is obviously between the Renault-Nissan alliance. All the way from the Pulse and Micra hatchbacks to the Scala and Sunny sedans to the Duster and Terrano SUVs, these cars are exactly the same as their counterparts under the cosmetic skin of their bodywork. These cars are generally termed as ‘badge engineered’ and while they are churned off a shared assembly line in most cases, they still are easily identifiable to their parent brands.
With such vehicles, while engine options, transmission configuration and bassic foundations for the cars remain the same, they bring in subtle differences in their styling and equipment levels.
So while the Rapid bears the Skoda family theme both on the nose and the tail, the Vento sticks to VW’s more no nonsense design philosophy. The same goes for the Renault Duster and the Nissan Terrano as well. It’s truly amazing how just a cosmetic job on the outside can make the two identical products look entirely different from one another and give that many more options to a buyer to choose from.
How to make it work for you
1. While most badge engineered cars leave the mechanical bits untouched when switching from one family to another, sometimes there may be very small differences in things like the suspension setup in keeping with the image of the brand. These may not seem much but a better ride quality from one manufacturer’s model can make or break the deal against the same model from another manufacturer. Always make sure you have test driven both cars properly before coming to a decision in this case.
2. Different manufacturers also come up with their own levels of equipment in the cars – such as the Nissan Terrano, which comes loaded with a list of features over and above what Renault’s Duster offers. While the Terrano is also more expensive it gives the buyer those many more options to play with.
3. Dealer and service networks also come into play here and while you’re looking at two badge engineered cars, it may be wiser to buy the one from the manufacturer that has a service centre near your area of residence or work than from the other manufacturer who may not have a setup close by.
4. Always keep in mind that manufacturers are in the business of selling cars – so even if two cars may be rolling off the same assembly line with the same specifications, the two allied manufacturers are always looking to go one up on each other in terms of sales. Go ahead and bargain, after all you can always get the same car (technically speaking) from the other manufacturer!
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What is badge engineering?
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