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Well, Toyota and Nissan both had high end cars for sale in the JDM region. They were essentially rebadged for the US market. I thought Infiniti did a better job at hiding their base roots. Though, Lexus improved very quickly and overtime. Infiniti's marketing was a disaster.
These days, Lexus has definitely improved the differentiation.



Well, wasn't the Infiniti nomenclature shift JdN's doing? Q and QX? I mean, it still makes sense. Their products just became muddled.



Well, their launch was IN the actual Hyundai lineup. Hyundai Genesis and Hyundai Equus. I remember saying back then, that this wasn't the way to build a luxury brand, despite Hyundai Equus being recognized globally already. It's take Equus 2 decades from Mitsubishi rebadge to Hyundai Equus to Hyundai Genesis to Genesis G80.

Genesis is only 5 years old. They have a LOT of work ahead still. And they actually did something Cadillac can't even do — build a competent CUV off their RWD sedan. G80/GV80.
Ah yeah reshuffling model designations...one of JdN's weaknesses...that's actually one thing I didn't like about him, he just had to do some **** to leave his mark. He's that guy that comes into an organization/position and changes **** just to change it. That was one thing he could've left alone at both Infiniti and Cadillac. Model designations were the least of their problems.

Q and QX might make sense, but G35/37 had some brand recognition that they threw out the window when they made it the Q40/50...and the poor FX, one of the original performance crossovers became an afterthought after it pretty much helped pioneer the segment. The current FX/QX70 had been out for 11 years when it finally got put out to pasture.

And agreed part of the Genesis bungling had been with the original Hyundai Genesis and Genesis coupe...especially the Couple which really should've just been called the Gen 3 Tiburon. They should've known whether they were going to go whole hog or not w/ making Genesis a full line brand and nixed that little experiment in the bud...should've just ben Genesis since day 1 sold through the Hyundai dealership.
 

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Ah yeah reshuffling model designations...one of JdN's weaknesses...that's actually one thing I didn't like about him, he just had to do some ** to leave his mark. He's that guy that comes into an organization/position and changes ** just to change it. That was one thing he could've left alone at both Infiniti and Cadillac. Model designations were the least of their problems.
To JdN's credit though, he was right... Cadillac's nomenclature needed help. I just don't think he got it quite right. After all, he did revamp Audi's nomenclature too!
But CT* and XT* works fine at Cadillac.... until you get to "Escalade." Then it still remains the outlier. And that forever is the issue. It's horrible for the brand. It's horrible for customer retention.

Q and QX might make sense, but G35/37 had some brand recognition that they threw out the window when they made it the Q40/50...and the poor FX, one of the original performance crossovers became an afterthought after it pretty much helped pioneer the segment. The current FX/QX70 had been out for 11 years when it finally got put out to pasture.
G35/37 had more notoriety because it was a Skyline, which also underpinned the Z. Not because of the name.
I'm a big fan of the FX tho. My buddy had one, and it was so fun to drive.
 

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Coincidence? Nah. It's company culture.
Mercedes knows their build the best luxury cars in the world. (Even if they may not in some cases.) But that's irrelevant to company culture. If you believe that you do, you do everything you can to maintain that reputation. And you continually improve over and over and over. That's why S-Class' reputation persists after all these decades. It's built to be the pinnacle. While everyone tries to catch up to the S, it's not lasting.

VW's emissions scandal was self inflicted. And quite stupid and damaging. That's also why Audi alone is spending $12B on EVs thru 2025 plus $6B on hybrid. The way to get away from an emissions scandal is to simply not emit anything, I suppose.
My point with VW is they excel in luxury at the expense of their mainstream vehicle business. In other words, another example of focusing on one at the expense of the other. That was going on long before the emissions scandal - they made no money on their mainstream business.

And how well will Mercedes singular focus do if they started a mainstream brand? Now management has to split their time and that "exclusive" Mercedes switchgear now shows up in a pedestrian vehicle? I know you are a big fan of Mercedes, but they have singular focus because that's all they have. Now that I think of it, they did have mainstream vehicles for ~ a decade - Chrysler, and Mercedes went on to destroy Chrysler and left it for dead. Yet another example of luxury and mainstream not mixing well. And, if I recall properly, Mercedes needed to take all of Chrysler's cash to prop up Mercedes as Mercedes was lagging the competition as for whatever reason, Mercedes management took their eye off the ball.

I don't know what causes it, but I think there is more than meets the eye to running a combined mainstream & luxury auto make. It seems like it should be doable - but there aren't any unequivocally successful examples in modern times. Nor am I saying "see, Cadillac is doing the best they can", they aren't** - but at the same time, I think, for whatever reason, it is more difficult than it looks.

** Lexus shows it can be done better, but Lexus still falls short of BMW and Mercedes.
 

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My point with VW is they excel in luxury at the expense of their mainstream vehicle business. In other words, another example of focusing on one at the expense of the other. That was going on long before the emissions scandal - they made no money on their mainstream business.
VW knows where the margins are. Hence you focus on the higher margin products that bring in the money. That then props up the lower end cars like VW, SEAT, Skoda, etc. And those cars are largely well done rebadges anyways.
The auto industry has very tight margins, so it makes sense to focus on the higher margin products whenever possible.

GM's drawback is that they can't get top dollar for Cadillac, which should be their high margin brand. So they cheapen the brand's products in order to get to the higher margin. GM's high margin products are their trucks. But the problem there is that it's sensitive to high gas prices. When that happens....

And how well will Mercedes singular focus do if they started a mainstream brand? Now management has to split their time and that "exclusive" Mercedes switchgear now shows up in a pedestrian vehicle? I know you are a big fan of Mercedes, but they have singular focus because that's all they have. Now that I think of it, they did have mainstream vehicles for ~ a decade - Chrysler, and Mercedes went on to destroy Chrysler and left it for dead. Yet another example of luxury and mainstream not mixing well. And, if I recall properly, Mercedes needed to take all of Chrysler's cash to prop up Mercedes as Mercedes was lagging the competition as for whatever reason, Mercedes management took their eye off the ball.
Mercedes doesn't need a "low end brand." Their product lineup is large enough to cover that on entry-level versions of their cars, as well as the A-C lineup. Just remember, the US doesn't get the entry level versions that Europe gets. But even then, you'll still be paying a premium for the Mercedes name, so it's never a real direct comparison anyways.

Mercedes plan was to acquire Chrysler and let them be the low end. But that ended in a disaster, as it really wasn't a merger of equals as billed. Plus there was the corporate culture clash as well, among other things. This also tied into the time where Mercedes cheapened their entire product lineup and didn't built them like tanks like they used to, resulting in crappy quality for over a decade.

I don't know what causes it, but I think there is more than meets the eye to running a combined mainstream & luxury auto make. It seems like it should be doable - but there aren't any unequivocally successful examples in modern times. Nor am I saying "see, Cadillac is doing the best they can", they aren't** - but at the same time, I think, for whatever reason, it is more difficult than it looks.

** Lexus shows it can be done better, but Lexus still falls short of BMW and Mercedes.
Toyota has done well with Lexus in the US. Elsewhere in the world, Lexus IS an also ran. Same with Infiniti. Genesis is still too new. Cadillac isn't there. BMW doesn't really have a low-end brand. Even Mini is a premium brand. And who knows what will be left over at Stellantis once the brand axe falls.

The best is really VW, but Bentley is still sort of in that high-end middle ground. And VW loses millions on every Bugatti sold. Which leaves Audi, which has done really well.
 

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VW knows where the margins are. Hence you focus on the higher margin products that bring in the money. That then props up the lower end cars like VW, SEAT, Skoda, etc. And those cars are largely well done rebadges anyways.
The auto industry has very tight margins, so it makes sense to focus on the higher margin products whenever possible.

GM's drawback is that they can't get top dollar for Cadillac, which should be their high margin brand. So they cheapen the brand's products in order to get to the higher margin. GM's high margin products are their trucks. But the problem there is that it's sensitive to high gas prices. When that happens....



Mercedes doesn't need a "low end brand." Their product lineup is large enough to cover that on entry-level versions of their cars, as well as the A-C lineup. Just remember, the US doesn't get the entry level versions that Europe gets. But even then, you'll still be paying a premium for the Mercedes name, so it's never a real direct comparison anyways.

Mercedes plan was to acquire Chrysler and let them be the low end. But that ended in a disaster, as it really wasn't a merger of equals as billed. Plus there was the corporate culture clash as well, among other things. This also tied into the time where Mercedes cheapened their entire product lineup and didn't built them like tanks like they used to, resulting in crappy quality for over a decade.



Toyota has done well with Lexus in the US. Elsewhere in the world, Lexus IS an also ran. Same with Infiniti. Genesis is still too new. Cadillac isn't there. BMW doesn't really have a low-end brand. Even Mini is a premium brand. And who knows what will be left over at Stellantis once the brand axe falls.

The best is really VW, but Bentley is still sort of in that high-end middle ground. And VW loses millions on every Bugatti sold. Which leaves Audi, which has done really well.
Toyota might have something to say to VW where the profits are. Mainstream brands make profit via volume and Toyota shows there is a vast amount of profit to be had with mainstream vehicles. VW left all of that on the table. Back to my one or the other theory.

What you said, to me, proves out that it does seem to be one or the other.
 

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Toyota might have something to say to VW where the profits are. Mainstream brands make profit via volume and Toyota shows there is a vast amount of profit to be had with mainstream vehicles. VW left all of that on the table. Back to my one or the other theory.

What you said, to me, proves out that it does seem to be one or the other.

Toyota is a very special manufacturing company. They can squeeze high margins out of a turnip.
Their efficiencies aren't just in the manufacture and design but stretch out into the supply chain. There's nothing really extraneous in their cars.

Volume will only get you so far. You can still manufacture at a loss. Just look at GM.
 

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Toyota is a very special manufacturing company. They can squeeze high margins out of a turnip.
Their efficiencies aren't just in the manufacture and design but stretch out into the supply chain. There's nothing really extraneous in their cars.

Volume will only get you so far. You can still manufacture at a loss. Just look at GM.
Right, but it can be done and Toyota shows a path, as does Honda. Goes back to there is more to meets the eye for combined mass/luxury auto makes to excel in both fronts.

You can explain why each manufacturer has failed, but why has no company succeeded at a highly successful mainstream operation AND luxury? Imagine VW's profits (all from luxury) combined with Toyota's profits (presumably largely from mainstream).
 

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Right, but it can be done and Toyota shows a path, as does Honda. Goes back to there is more to meets the eye for combined mass/luxury auto makes to excel in both fronts.
Depends on what that path is.
Honda has no choice. They're still an independent manufacturer — one of the last. So literally everything they have is based on variations of the Civic and Accord... with an exception or two.

Gotta remember, Acura still doesn't exist in JDM either. They're really just premium Hondas. I still argue that Acura isn't a luxury brand. It's a premium brand.
It took a while for Lexus to get introduced in JDM as well. But they're worldwide now. IT took a while for Lexus to evolve from premium Toyotas to where they are now. Though, they still have varying degrees of success in certain regions.


You can explain why each manufacturer has failed, but why has no company succeeded at a highly successful mainstream operation AND luxury? Imagine VW's profits (all from luxury) combined with Toyota's profits (presumably largely from mainstream).

The only way it truly works is if the luxury brand has, for the most part, it's own platform and engines. This allows the brand(s) to distinguish themselves from the more mainstream brands. Only VW's been able to do that effectively.... or at least "the most effective" of all the auto manufacturers.

Building luxury and maintaining the air of luxury is an investment. It's taken Audi at least 20+ years to get where it is, and it's challenging Mercedes in key regions for a while now. Plus it's attracted the eye of the up-and-coming market (younger, wealthier, more educated demographic).

How do you quantify that cost at VW? I dunno.

As for Toyota? They still have a lot of work to do. And if Genesis really makes a run, then either Toyota backs off (doubtful) or the double-down (most likely) in key markets (i.e. the US). That will further marginalize Lincoln and Cadillac in their home market as a value luxury car, which in the luxury market is just not a good place to be.
 

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Depends on what that path is.
Honda has no choice. They're still an independent manufacturer — one of the last. So literally everything they have is based on variations of the Civic and Accord... with an exception or two.

Gotta remember, Acura still doesn't exist in JDM either. They're really just premium Hondas. I still argue that Acura isn't a luxury brand. It's a premium brand.
It took a while for Lexus to get introduced in JDM as well. But they're worldwide now. IT took a while for Lexus to evolve from premium Toyotas to where they are now. Though, they still have varying degrees of success in certain regions.





The only way it truly works is if the luxury brand has, for the most part, it's own platform and engines. This allows the brand(s) to distinguish themselves from the more mainstream brands. Only VW's been able to do that effectively.... or at least "the most effective" of all the auto manufacturers.

Building luxury and maintaining the air of luxury is an investment. It's taken Audi at least 20+ years to get where it is, and it's challenging Mercedes in key regions for a while now. Plus it's attracted the eye of the up-and-coming market (younger, wealthier, more educated demographic).

How do you quantify that cost at VW? I dunno.

As for Toyota? They still have a lot of work to do. And if Genesis really makes a run, then either Toyota backs off (doubtful) or the double-down (most likely) in key markets (i.e. the US). That will further marginalize Lincoln and Cadillac in their home market as a value luxury car, which in the luxury market is just not a good place to be.
Just an interesting thought I had when I realized no company has successfully "done it", or at least I think it is an interesting thought. Lexus definitely has a long way to go to get to the BMW/Mercedes level, while VW is there with luxury, but has a long way to go with mainstream. Cadillac/Lincoln/Infiniti, etc have a lot of work to even get to the Lexus level.

That parts bin, including shared chassis, is definitely a difficult one. On the higher end I am 100% on board. Maybe on the low end it is ok as long as adequately upgraded. I've always been of the mind that the Escalade looks to much like a Yukon, even though a Yukon is a luxury vehicle in its own right.

And yes I agree, Acura is not a luxury brand, they are near luxury.
 

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Just an interesting thought I had when I realized no company has successfully "done it", or at least I think it is an interesting thought. Lexus definitely has a long way to go to get to the BMW/Mercedes level, while VW is there with luxury, but has a long way to go with mainstream. Cadillac/Lincoln/Infiniti, etc have a lot of work to even get to the Lexus level.
Lexus has a ways to go. But Toyota plays the long game here. They're not GM when it comes to that. Slow and steady wins the race. You need to build mindshare in many of these areas.

I still argue that VW has to get there in the mainstream. They have 3 brands in that space, though, they're not global; only VW is global.
Cadillac/Lincoln/Infiniti/Genesis, to put it simply, are non-competitive, for various reasons.

That parts bin, including shared chassis, is definitely a difficult one. On the higher end I am 100% on board. Maybe on the low end it is ok as long as adequately upgraded. I've always been of the mind that the Escalade looks to much like a Yukon, even though a Yukon is a luxury vehicle in its own right.

And yes I agree, Acura is not a luxury brand, they are near luxury.
Yukon isn't luxury. Denali is closer, but I'd still argue that it's premium. And IMHO, Denali still sits too close to Escalade for my comfort. Escalade has been pulling away from Denali for some time and getting better, but I agree, it's too close to Yukon.

The parts bin is difficult. For high end brands, you can't use the low end parts in areas where the driver/passengers will see it regularly. It needs to be hidden. So, do you do 2 sets of parts items? The short answer is ... Yes. But that's added cost, etc etc etc.
But even between Audi and Bentley or BMW and Rolls, that doesn't quite work. Because no matter how good the Audi or BMW part is, it doesn't necessarily fly at the Bentley or Rolls segment either. But they both do it.
So the question then becomes, "Where do you draw the line?"

Here's the other thing. My dad has a Lexus UX, which is essentially a fancy Corolla/CH-R. I've had a hard time finding any part that is truly out of place in the UX. I mean, other than the general shape of the car, the differences are quite distinct. Even the materials used in the UX are great. It's obvious Lexus took its time with the UX hiding its foundational roots. And that's goal.

And as you go up the line, the differences between Camry and ES are even more striking.
 

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Lexus has a ways to go. But Toyota plays the long game here. They're not GM when it comes to that. Slow and steady wins the race. You need to build mindshare in many of these areas.

I still argue that VW has to get there in the mainstream. They have 3 brands in that space, though, they're not global; only VW is global.
Cadillac/Lincoln/Infiniti/Genesis, to put it simply, are non-competitive, for various reasons.



Yukon isn't luxury. Denali is closer, but I'd still argue that it's premium. And IMHO, Denali still sits too close to Escalade for my comfort. Escalade has been pulling away from Denali for some time and getting better, but I agree, it's too close to Yukon.

The parts bin is difficult. For high end brands, you can't use the low end parts in areas where the driver/passengers will see it regularly. It needs to be hidden. So, do you do 2 sets of parts items? The short answer is ... Yes. But that's added cost, etc etc etc.
But even between Audi and Bentley or BMW and Rolls, that doesn't quite work. Because no matter how good the Audi or BMW part is, it doesn't necessarily fly at the Bentley or Rolls segment either. But they both do it.
So the question then becomes, "Where do you draw the line?"

Here's the other thing. My dad has a Lexus UX, which is essentially a fancy Corolla/CH-R. I've had a hard time finding any part that is truly out of place in the UX. I mean, other than the general shape of the car, the differences are quite distinct. Even the materials used in the UX are great. It's obvious Lexus took its time with the UX hiding its foundational roots. And that's goal.

And as you go up the line, the differences between Camry and ES are even more striking.
That's where having a single brand, such as Mercedes, is an advantage. They can use a part that is cheap, but they don't have a Chevy version with that same part and people can point to and say "look, Chevy part". Cadillac, et al have to go that extra mile to not use those obvious parts, even though they are of the same quality as BMW/Merc.. My wife's Volvo vs. my CT4 is a good example (similarly priced). My window switch gear is of higher quality than the Volvo's, but many on GMI will say "Chevy part". I bet those Volvo window switches come off a Chinese vehicle, but no one sees that, so it is ok.
 

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how well will Mercedes singular focus do if they started a mainstream brand?
'mercedes' is a mainstream brand. They sell multi-millions of units in most segments, all the way down below the median new car price and in commercial/utilitarian segments. Other than pickups, their fingers are in all the pies. The brand's overall price range may be larger than any other brand globally.
 

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'Mercedes' is a mainstream brand. They sell multi-millions of units in most segments, all the way down below the median new car price and in commercial/utilitarian segments. Other than pickups, their fingers are in all the pies. The brand's overall price range may be larger than any other brand globally.
Mercedes and Chevrolet are very similar. Something in the low and things passing $130K... Where will the Zora's and E-ray's price at? How about the upcoming performance electric vehicles?
Yeah, Mercedes has vehicles way above $130K, however, beyond $100K, its out of reach for regular buyers anyways, doesn't matter.. its all rich people at that point...

That can be said for the Ford brand too...
 

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Gotta remember, Acura still doesn't exist in JDM either. They're really just premium Hondas. I still argue that Acura isn't a luxury brand. It's a premium brand.
The new Acura TLX Type S seems to be a close competitor to Cadillac CT5-V AWD in terms of size, power, and price:

Acura TLX Type S SH-AWD
  • 194.6 in (4,943 mm) length
  • 355 hp engine
  • $53,345 base price (U.S.)

Cadillac CT5-V AWD
  • 193.8 in (4,923 mm) length
  • 360 hp engine
  • $51,590 base price (U.S.)
 

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The new Acura TLX Type S seems to be a close competitor to Cadillac CT5-V AWD in terms of size, power, and price:

Acura TLX Type S SH-AWD
  • 194.6 in (4,943 mm) length
  • 355 hp engine
  • $53,345 base price (U.S.)

Cadillac CT5-V AWD
  • 193.8 in (4,923 mm) length
  • 360 hp engine
  • $51,590 base price (U.S.)
remember, you have to know what the difference between what luxury and premium is. The feeling you get from certain sponge for example is different .. depending...
 

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'mercedes' is a mainstream brand. They sell multi-millions of units in most segments, all the way down below the median new car price and in commercial/utilitarian segments. Other than pickups, their fingers are in all the pies. The brand's overall price range may be larger than any other brand globally.
Mercedes has had pickup trucks on and off in the global market for the past 3 decades. The last attempt — the X-Class — didn't last too long. It was a mildly warmed over Nissan Frontier.
They'll probably try again down the road. There's really no reason why they can't build one off the MRA platform or even the W167 platform.

They do have the largest lineup, that I know of.

12 SUVs, 3 of which are electric.
6 sedans
6 coupes, including 4-door coupes
4 roadsters/cabrio, counting the upcoming SL
4 wagons/all-terrains
2 vans, 1 is electric
2 compact hatches

And it's done on 3-4 platforms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #117 · (Edited)
'mercedes' is a mainstream brand. They sell multi-millions of units in most segments, all the way down below the median new car price and in commercial/utilitarian segments. Other than pickups, their fingers are in all the pies. The brand's overall price range may be larger than any other brand globally.
Please don’t play word games to gain attention.

When key terms are used it’s well to stick with the understanding of their meaning in the context of the discussion rather than proving how clever you are by trying to shift the meaning of those terms.

We know in the context of luxury brands vs mainstream brands in the automotive world, Mercedes, regardless of sales volume, is a luxury brand not a mainstream brand.

Doing that kind of thing indicates you don’t really have anything productive to add to the discussion so you are seeking attention for cleverly redefining an otherwise understood term.

Besides, if you define luxury by sales, then wouldn’t Fiat be a luxury brand?
 

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Discussion Starter · #118 ·
My point with VW is they excel in luxury at the expense of their mainstream vehicle business. In other words, another example of focusing on one at the expense of the other. That was going on long before the emissions scandal - they made no money on their mainstream business.

And how well will Mercedes singular focus do if they started a mainstream brand? Now management has to split their time and that "exclusive" Mercedes switchgear now shows up in a pedestrian vehicle? I know you are a big fan of Mercedes, but they have singular focus because that's all they have. Now that I think of it, they did have mainstream vehicles for ~ a decade - Chrysler, and Mercedes went on to destroy Chrysler and left it for dead. Yet another example of luxury and mainstream not mixing well. And, if I recall properly, Mercedes needed to take all of Chrysler's cash to prop up Mercedes as Mercedes was lagging the competition as for whatever reason, Mercedes management took their eye off the ball.

I don't know what causes it, but I think there is more than meets the eye to running a combined mainstream & luxury auto make. It seems like it should be doable - but there aren't any unequivocally successful examples in modern times. Nor am I saying "see, Cadillac is doing the best they can", they aren't** - but at the same time, I think, for whatever reason, it is more difficult than it looks.

** Lexus shows it can be done better, but Lexus still falls short of BMW and Mercedes.
Does BMW have a mainstream brand other than Mini?
 

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Does BMW have a mainstream brand other than Mini?
Mini isn't really a "mainstream" brand. It's a premium boutique brand. They essentially sell iterations of 1 car.
BMW's mainstream brand would have been/was Rover.
I'm probably gonna get this wrong because it's confusing, but BMW broke up the original Rover Group, selling Land Rover to Ford, where Ford merged Land Rover with Jaguar and Lincoln to form PAG. Ford then sold off Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata, forming JLR. BMW kept MG Rover for a few more years and sold that off to SAIC, except for Mini, which BMW retained.
But the actual "Rover" name went to Tata, along with the ultra-high end "Daimler" name. I think BMW retains the "Triumph" name and another one. All the remaining names went to SAIC. They can't use "Rover" so they created "Roewe."

So, if JLR ever wanted to pursue a "mainstream volume" brand, they could revive "Rover." And if they wanted to re-enter the ultra-high end, they could bring back Daimler, with a similar strategy as Mercedes-Maybach.
 
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