As American manufacturing companies go, Studebaker had a pretty good run. Founded in 1852 as a wagon builder, the company switched to building automobiles (electric, at first) in 1902.
Over the next 64 years, Studebaker
managed to survive two world wars and the Great Depression, before falling victim to mismanagement and an indifferent public. In 1966, Studebaker built its last automobile at its Hamilton, Ontario, Canada plant.
Studebaker was an innovative company, and many of its affiliated businesses live on to this day. The automaker was an early importer of Mercedes-Benz
and Auto Union (now Audi
) cars, and it once owned generator manufacturer Onan, supercharger manufacturer Paxton and automotive chemical company STP.
Now comes word from Autoblog
that the storied nameplate may live again, if an Arvada, Colorado company has anything to say about it. Headed by president and CEO R.W. Reed, the Studebaker Motor Company
has plans for vehicles ranging from scooters to motorcycles to (eventually) a range of automobiles.
Long term, its goal is to build affordable-but-green cars, powered by gasoline, diesel and series-hybrid drivetrains. Beginning with second-generation scooter models, it plans to manufacture (or have manufactured, under contract) all of its products in the United States.
Short term, the company’s goal is to attract investors to further the development of its products. It would also love to hear from potential dealers in North America, although it isn’t exactly clear when Studebaker will have product to offer.
Color us “cautiously optimistic” on this one. As much as we’d love to see the revival of a classic American automotive nameplate, this is still a difficult economy for any new transportation-centered business to thrive in.