Automotive: November 2009 Archives

Alfa Romeo has decided to remove the Milano name from its new 147 model just a few days before the Bologna Motor Show.

The reason? Laid off Alfa workers in Milan feel that the company is being hypocritical by naming the car after a city they have left behind after moving to Turin.

alfa-romeo-milano-iaa.gifAlfa was founded in Milan and was there for 99 years before this cost cutting move took place thanks to Alfa's parent company, Fiat. In fact, the Milano name was once incorporated into the car's badge.

The new name will probably be Giulietta.

This would be the third Alfa to carry that name and according to The Motor Report "Previous Giulietta models include a sedan and coupe built between 1954 and 1965, and a sedan built between 1977 and 1985."

This name was also one of the names that came after Fiat switched back from alphanumeric naming.

I'm thinking this is enough for them to reconsider using alpha numeric naming.

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It's pretty much been an open secret since last month on the blogosphere that GM is planning on bringing back the Buick Regal.

This brand name revival will essentially be modeled after the Opel Insignia, which has been selling very well in Europe and was in fact the 2009 European Car of the Year - 64,000 of these have also been sold in China over the past year, where Buicks are very well regarded.

buick-regal-burgundy.gifThe mainstream news has finally broken the story, but notes that this premium brand has traditionally appealed to older buyers (the average age of a Buick buyer is 57 vs 46 for all new vehicle purchases, and five years ago it was 62). However, this new youthful, sporty design is meant to "drive the age down" into the mid 40s.

The Regal nameplate has been on the market for six years and is still one of the names most associated with Buick by consumers. Which explains why they are pushing the brand hard in LA, especially since Buick traditionally sells poorly in age-obsessed California and this is where the image of the brand name might find a lift.

Many people out there think that the Regal name, and indeed the Buick name, is beyond redemption, but its clear why GM is hanging on to both: The Chinese love the Buick and Regal names and the car itself has proven to be a winner overseas.

Buick is betting that name recognition will carry the day in the US. As an automatic win in China, a probable win here in the United States, where the car is clearly geared for the younger buyer, doesn't sound like bad odds.

This appears to be a good branding move simply because there is still a large amount of equity in the Buick Regal name. Time will tell.

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So before Chrysler could even release their new logo yesterday, the blogosphere was flooded with reviews of the change.

For one, Motor Authority described it as lovely retrospective of past logos:

chrysler-newlogo-wings.gif

The logo, which seems oddly compressed in the vertical axis, is a sort of retro-modern combination of the winged Chrysler logos of the 1990s with a modern typeface and the Chrysler name. It may be yet another visible aspect of the Fiat restructuring and rebranding of Chrysler though the symbol also bears at least a passing resemblance to Aston Martin's famous winged icon.

For those disappointed to see the old logo go, don't get too upset because it seems that the familiar Pentastar will not be wholly retired, living on as the company's corporate identity.

But the new logo hasn't been the only news coming out of Chrysler recently, the Ram brand is also making a big change, divorcing itself from Dodge.

I have written about this before, but now the company's new "My name is Ram" ad campaign is reintroducing the brand to hard core truck lovers.

One executive asks that we think of the relationship between Dodge and Ram as akin to that shared by the iPod, iMac, and iPhone brands with Apple: "They are part of Apple, but also compelling brands on their own." A very nice thought, but also a comparison that Automobile Magazine calls "a reach." I agree.

dodge-ram-logo.gifIn fact, there is much anger in the blogosphere about the Ram brand. Pickuptrucks.com gives us "5 Reasons Why It's Wrong To Divorce Ram From Dodge" and number one is "Dodge Ram pickup truck owners say they drive a 'Dodge Ram'" and dropping "Dodge" from the name leaves a "void."

The company is going to push the Ram name and the truck hard, promising "you'll never have trouble recognizing what a big bad Ram looks like."

Maybe so, but some odd combinations just seem to work well together, like a banana split. No one quite knows why, but dessert definitely sounds a lot less exciting when you're just eating a banana.

Good luck Ram, here's hoping the move proves to be a fruitful one.

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Global Brand Name in the Dictionary: Nissan Leaf

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nissan-leaf.jpgIt's extremely rare these days to have a word in the dictionary that is trademarkable globally.

Congratulations to Nissan for the Leaf brand name, for its first electric car.

To develop a trademarkable brand these days usually means a coined name or combination of words from a language other than English.

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