Studebaker president and CEO RW Reed explains the initial phase of the company’s return is to introduce a range of petrol and electric scooters, starting off with small-engined models and progressing with more powerful versions in the future. Reed says a number of successful manufacturers – including BMW, Honda and Suzuki – have proved the potential of this business case in the past.
The next step will be re-introducing the brand’s small car, the Studebaker Lark. Reed says the Lark must be a well-priced compact sedan powered by a fuel-efficient petrol engine, a diesel-hybrid powertrain or a fully electric drive system. The company plans to build its vehicles in the US, and is hopeful of resuming production in Detroit or at South Bend – two of its previous assembly sites.
Step three involves full-scale production of the Lark, with annual sales targets of 20,000 vehicles.
The following two steps see the re-introduction and mass production of the Hawk, President and Champ model lines and the launch of the new Avonaco model, as Studebaker expands with more modern-day passenger vehicles, crossovers, SUVs and pick-ups.
The final step – assuming all goes well and the comeback is deemed a success – is to take Studebaker public, although Reed admits there have not been any serious discussions about this so far.
Before any of that happens, however, Reed says the company will need significant funding, and is currently working on ways to secure capital to kick off phase one of the plan.
Reed has pencilled in the ‘First annual Studebaker Motor Company convention’ for May 2013, where staff members will meet with prospective dealers and Studebaker enthusiasts in the lead-up to the brand’s relaunch.
The Studebaker name dates back to 1852, when the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company started producing wagons for farmers, miners and the military. By 1875, Studebaker was officially the largest vehicle house in the world.
Studebaker entered the automotive industry in 1902 and established a reputation for reliability and quality. Studebaker’s 1913 six-cylinder models were the first to employ monobloc engine casting.
In 1926, Studebaker became the first US automaker to open an outdoor proving ground. The site it still marked by a 5000-strong group of pine trees that spells out ‘Studebaker’.
Studebaker produced 19 different cars and eight pick-ups/trucks while in operation, but was eventually forced to close in 1967 after struggling for years to keep up with the price war started by Ford and General Motors in the 1950s.