Automotive: January 2008 Archives

Car Brand Naming All About The Numbers (And Letters)

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lincolnmks.gifI have written before about the move that car companies have made towards alphanumeric naming, but had to smile while reading an article by Ken Bensinger that quoted a Ford exec mixing up the name for the new Lincoln MKS—he referred to it at the LA Auto Shows as the “MKX,” another model altogether.

Some of us are just as confused, with Robert Farago asking us irately “Is there a MKT for the Lincoln MKT” (referring to the new Lincoln concept car). James Poulous speaks for an entire generation of automobiles when he says “I'm a car, not a number," while another blogger laments “give me alphabet soup, I’ll give you new car names."
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Sorry, people. Alphanumeric naming is easier to trademark, gives a car a European cache and does away with the risk of being mistranslated when it moves overseas. Consumers are also pretty finicky: VW, who has brought us some classic car names (Bettle, Golf, Jetta) just gave us the new Routan, an update on its classic hippy “bus”, and it was duly dubbed “The worst car name in history” in the Businessweek Autoblog.

Now that’s gratitude for ya.

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A Green BMW Could be a Triumph in Product Naming

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bmwlogo.gif It seems that the rumors that were flying around last November are true: BMW is looking for a new brand name for a line of eco-friendly cars.

Hilton Holloway thinks the solution is to simply make the MINI brand name the eco-brand, while Lascelles Linton at AutoblogGreen argues that BMW’s hydrogen car project, alongside its fuel-efficient Mini and gas sipping Smart brand, should be enough for the Bavarians. No new brand naming required.

I am partial to the idea of BMW trotting out a clean, green Triumph, a brand it also owns, which seems to be all but languishing despite its enormous appeal.

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If the MINI can be brought back in new livery, why can’t the Triumph be a “triumph” in green engineering? I’d say that the first model should come out in British racing green and use BMW’s Efficient Dynamics Technology. That would be a sweet ride indeed.

Technorati Tags: BMW, Triumph, Product Naming, Eco-Friendly Cars

EV autos, or electric vehicles, are being taken more seriously by global auto manufacturers.

Yesterday, I thought I had blogged about the strangest names at the Detroit Auto show. I was wrong.

A Chinese auto-designer has offered us three EV concept cars that look like they have been torn from the pages of a children’s book. Their names:

    bookofsongscar.gif

  • Tang Hua Book of Songs

  • pieceofcloudcar.gif

  • Piece of Cloud

  • detroitfishcar.gif

  • Detroit Fish


Automotoportal indicates these are “The oddest-looking, and most bizarrely named cars at the show.” I have to agree. Although I would like to ride around on a “Piece of Cloud.”

VehicleVoice is having a good chuckle, wondering why anyone would drive the high voltage, amphibious Detroit Fish, which comes with fins and a propeller. Maybe we'll see the Detroit Fish in Lake Michigan someday.

tanghualogo.gifThey also direct us to a mysterious logo located on the steering wheel of each car of a man who could be “Colonel Sanders’ long lost half-brother.”

All jokes aside, designer Li Guangming points out that “If China and India burned gas at the same rate as the US, they would consume four times the fuel reserves of the entire planet. The future must point to the EV field...”

OK, I’m sold.

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Cool Green Car Product Naming An Asian Thing

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Concern for the environment has occupied a great share of our attention recently.

This focus has not been lost on auto manufacturers. At the recent Detroit Auto Show, several environmentally friendly autos were introduced:
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  • Dodge Zeo - This brand name is a clipping of the word zero to signify that this Dodge vehicle generates zero emissions.
  • ecovoyager.gifChrysler ecoVoyager - This name simply precedes the current Voyager brand with "eco" which suggests it's an environmentally friendly, battery powered vehicle.
  • JeepRConcept.gifCadillac Provoq - A hydrogen powered Cadillac with a stylized name suggesting either provoke or more likely provacative since the source of power is very unusual, provoking great admiration or interest.


Most of the rest of the new auto naming comes from taking an established brand name and adding “concept” to it (e.g. Jeep Renegade Concept).

Another tack in car branding is the Zenn and Karma, which comes from California, of all places. Or the Mazda Furai (which means “the sound of wind” in Japanese).

Toyota’s Prius has set the bar in my opinion. It’s a good name from a well known company, and a great car. If Japanese car makers grab all the good names, consumers are going to start thinking that green cars are an Asian thing, which would be a pity.

One great name for an American green car would be “Sequoia”-- now there’s a name that doesn’t simply have “eco” tacked in front of it and doesn’t sound like a Star Wars droid—plus the word is utterly green and American. Oops, Toyota has that, too.

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New Car Naming is Thought Provoqing

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Two new car names are raising eyebrows in the motoring industry today: the Cadillac Provoq, GM’s new hydrogen fuel-cell-powered concept car and yet to be officially named “People’s Car” by Tata.

Cadillac_Provoq.gifThe Provoq naming has already gotten Mork at the Trademork blog thinking about changing his name to “Morq” and prompting the Green Car advisor to say “if these guys don’t learn to spell they are going to provoke me to violence.” Hydro Kevin quips that the “Provoq is no Joke” and I must say that the very comfortable and speedy vehicle is certainly thought “provoqing.”

One name that will certainly have to go is the nickname “People’s Car” that Tata seems to have adopted for its yet to be unveiled 30 horsepower car. “People’s Car” is a direct reference to the Volkswagen, of course, and the title traditionally held by the Volkswagen Beetle, so that name is really only on loan unless Tata wants to get sued.

Aside from people’s worries over millions of new pollution causing cars hitting the roads, this car might actually bring “power to the people.”

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Technology Brand Naming Men's Health Article

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MensHealthCover122707.gifYou may have seen the special edition of Men's Health Tech Guide 2008.

There are a lot of cool gadgets covered in this issue:

  • Sierra Designs Echo Sleeping Bag TechBrands.gif
  • Yamaha 2008 FXSHO Personal Watercraft
  • Saeco Primea Cappuccino Touch Plus

Men's Health invited me to write an article on technology brand naming.

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