December 4, 2006
Brand Names: GM Hybrids - Haunted by the EV1, Pursued by Prius
GM Chairman Rick Wagoner just announced at the LA auto show that his company plans on getting serious about hybrid vehicles. They plan on producing traditional cars with better fuel efficiency as well as working on partial fuel substitutes, like biofuels and synthetics. They are also pushing forward on electrically driven vehicles. He introduced GM’s first hybrid car, the Saturn Aura Green Line. They also emphasized the VUE brand name further with the introduction of the new Saturn 2008 VUE.
As GM makes these breathless announcements, I cannot help but be reminded of a great documentary called “Who Killed the Electric Car” that describes the mysterious demise of the ill fated GM EV1, a brand name that must be turning in its grave.
This must also be interesting news for Toyota, who is busy building up the mighty Prius brand name with a focus on creating a full line of vehicles - Relly Brennan wonders if the Prius name is actually a stronger brand name than Toyota when it comes to hybrid cars.
The IRS has made things easier for people considering making the switch from guzzler to green by offering tax credit eligibility for hybrid and natural gas vehicles including the Honda Civic GX and its very well named home refueling appliance called, charmingly, “Phil”.
I have been thinking a great deal about hybrids lately and the various automotive names and acronyms attached to them. It seems that stand alone brand names, rather than appended alphanumeric monikers, are more appropriate for signaling a different kind of vehicle. Toyota Prius is far easier to remember than the Lexus RX 400h or for that matter the Honda Civic GX. These cars are very popular, true, but I really believe a new brand name sweeps clean.
I think the Saturn brand name is fun and edgy enough to be the means through which GM breaks into this Asian dominated market (Prius accounts for 70%+ of hybrid car sales) and the name “VUE” is a good one, as it works well to connote visibility and a view into the future.
Taking a funky niche brand and making it the hybrid brand may be the way forward and I agree with the blogger at Oh Futura! that the VW Beetle brand name could easily be the means through which the German carmaker gets into the game.
Seriously, how cool would the tagline, "Fueled by Flower Power" be?
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