How automobiles get their names
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Source: General_Motors_ (GM_Europe)
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Kadett, Carina, Taunus – these car names once went down well with buyers. Anyone who, as a manufacturer, would rely on them today would soon be broke. Tiguan, Touareg, Qashqai – car names sound exotic these days, are selected from 10,000 suggestions. The naming testifies to the change in society.
At that time cars were called Kadett, Manta or Taunus. Names were proposed in a small group, nodded off by the board, it’s okay. Today “verbal designers” like Sybille Kircher from Nomen International in Dusseldorf or Manfred Gotta in Baden-Baden create car names. Your creations must be easy to pronounce, marketable internationally and free from negative associations. In addition, they must not be found among the more than 100,000 legally protected name variants. Up to 10,000 suggestions are developed to give a new car a name.
In the 1960s, the car names were handy and reflected social advancement: Opel called its models Kadett, Kapitan, Commodore, Admiral. And of course the maritime hierarchy corresponded to the purchase price and size of the cars. But then the clear military order gives way to diplomacy: "Opel introduces the diplomat and the senator, Ford counters with the escort and the consul," says Kircher.
The student movement finally marks another break. “After two decades of hard work, the time has come for a reward. The Germans long for a vacation in the sunny south. ”The Ford Capri will be a hit with the budding travel world champions, and the Ascona and Granada also want to spread a Mediterranean flair. Volkswagen secures distant winds with the Passat and the Scirocco. Ford combines the new love for life and travel with the Fiesta (Spanish for celebration).
The 1980s are getting sporty: while Boris Becker and Steffi Graf are becoming new folk heroes, Volkswagen is focusing on elegant sports such as golf and polo. In the 1990s, car names became global after the collapse of the East-West conflict. Opel becomes futuristic with Astra and Omega, Ford relies on Mondeo (derived from the Latin mundus for world) and Galaxy.
The car companies are now focusing on linking the model name with the manufacturer using recurring typical letters and thus forming a car family: Citroën initially relies on the X (Saxo, Xantia, Xsara) and later on the C, Toyota with the ending "-Is". Instead of Corolla, Starlet and Carina, Auris, Yaris and Avensis roll through the streets. “Today women’s names are unsexy and unmanly – and they don’t go down well with women either,” says Kircher.
But do car names make sense at all? After all, Audi, Mercedes and BMW still rely on numbers and letters. “A name is an instrument that creates an image. Numbers and digits are harder to remember and difficult to protect legally, ”says automotive expert Prof. Ferdinand Dudenhoffer from the Gelsenkirchen University of Applied Sciences. After all, even Porsche is now using names, although the company has very successfully linked sequences of numbers such as "911" to its cars.
“The name doesn’t need to make sense. You can mint artificial names yourself. It is becoming a synonym for the car – with the Passat, nobody thinks of a wind anymore, ”says Dudenhoffer. “Names like Smart and Twingo fit the car and have an impact on the customer. But it doesn’t make sense to replace expensive and permanently established digits – that would be nonsense. ”And:“ The name has to match the character of the car. Cayenne, Cayman and Boxster don’t leave many questions unanswered, ”says name creator Manfred Gotta. Mercedes in particular has an increasing problem with its letter combinations: "CLK, CLS – it’s no longer easy to understand," says Gotta.
In the new millennium, car buyers will no longer find a flower pot in the Mediterranean, says Kircher. Exoticism and adventure call, the distance is in demand. Extravagant word creations like Aygo are supposed to convey individual mobility based on the English “I go”. It is better to avoid names with an all too obvious meaning – the groups of buyers have become too diverse.
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