• Apr 21, 2006

The Wall Street Journal has finally picked up on the increasingly popular (and entropic) automotive trend that is alphanumeric naming. Writer Gina Chon is less than complementary about the whole business of going from actual word-based name to strings of numbers and letters, going to great lengths to catalog the legal mess that has ensued between manufacturers (Lincoln MKX vs Acura MDX, etc.), as well as the confusion that the practice has been causing consumers.

Most of this isn't news, but interestingly, Chon speaks with a brand consultant who points out that car companies are avoiding certain letters due to undesirable associations. Namely, O, P, U and Y, with B, F and N not far behind. The article also nicely sums up the clinic process as it applies to automotive monikers.

Further ranting on the subject can be read here.

[Source: Wall Street Journal via Arizona Republic; TheTruthAboutCars.com; Surfnetkids.com]



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  • 14 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      bloggaru, the Integra is now the RSX, but... i think that your slip-up might actually prove the point :)
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm in favor of numbering as long as it's logical and means something. For instance, I always like it best when Volvo's 240-series denoted the number of doors and cylinders. (thus 242, 244, 245, 265, etc.).

      I'm guessing Europeans have tended to use numbers because a car is more of a technical product. (BMW, M-B, Volvo)

      Americans use names because they're selling fantasy and myth, and the automobile is such a big part of our history and the way we see ourselves. Thus, sometimes rather ho-hom and dumpy cars get names than invoke exotic geographic places, status, and prestige (Caprice, Malibu, Zephyr, Seville, Biarittz, etc., "LTD"- what was 'limited' about it)

      We're also traditionally big on animal names that invoke a sense of speed or attributes of that animal(Mustang, Bronco, Maverick, Cougar, Phoenix, Impala, various Pontiacs ending in '-bird')

      On the other hand, I've never been able to keep up with Acura's lineup ever since they stopped using Integra, Legend, and Vigor. Now I can never remember what's what.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Caddy is the worse, Mercedes is a mess, Chrysler has just a 300 a retro name, Caravan is a great name for a boring MiniVan... Nissan is a mixed bag...Volvo loves numbers, always has. Dumping Legend was a big mistake for Acura.
      • 8 Years Ago
      One word about the alphanumeric (and just plain alphabetic) names:

      STOP!!!!

      Leave it to the companies who have been doing all along and know how to do it right (BMW, MB, Lexus, Volvo, Saab). No one else!

      The aforementioned have logical names that make obvious sense (like Bill's example). Everyone else just has stupid alphabet soup. Besides, cars have character, why not give them a name that exudes it?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think that non alphanumeric names will make a comeback at some point. Look at all the classic nameplates being revived (Ford Galaxy, Dodge Charger, Challenger etc. )
      I do think that ford is doing a grave disservice with their Acura/Cadillac aping of 3 letter alpha numerics. MKS MKX, whats the difference??
      So the very nicely named Zepyr is turning into the MKS?
      Their new Aviator is now the MKX? How does this denote upscale? I'm sure Acura is happy about that one.

      Classic names are classic names, alphanumeric or otherwise,
      There is a reason that Cadillac's truck is still called the Escalade, and that Mazda is having a hard time stopping people from calling the Miata instead of its "official" name MX-5.

      • 8 Years Ago
      "undesirable associations?"

      Does that mean I won't be able to buy a Ford IPP anytimes soon? That's a shame...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Alphanumeric names arent trends, in fact, they have been around since when vehicles were coming about. In the 1970's, most SUVs (now Im talking about REAL SUV's) were alphanumeric:
      Toyota FJ40
      Land Rover SeriesIIA
      Jeep CJ5
      Naming vehicles alphanumerically is better in some cases; look at some of the ridiculos vehicle names out there right now that aren't alphanumeric. I'd rather drive something called a CJ5 then a "Patriot".
      • 8 Years Ago
      I can hardly care. Some auto enthusiasts forget their car's given name altogether by referring them to their chassis codes and/or engine codes (BMW E46, E92, etc.). If auto makers are going to get in a bind about name similarities, I should probably follow suit since my name is Matthew, shared with millions of other Americans as well. Damn it, I was first!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Uhh... no link to the article? What kind of entry is this?
      • 8 Years Ago
      isn't this trend in the US market only? i remember when the acura intregra changed to acura tsx, it remained the integra in other parts of the world. it seems the american consumer is responding better to alphanumeric names?
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Acura brand's decline to near irrelevance can be traced to the abandonment of the famous Legend nameplate. It forfeited the near insurmountable lead it gained as the first premium Japanese car.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I actually don't mind it much. It's better in ways then coming up with senseless made up words. It's kind of like calling something by it's model number instead of it made up name. Gives info about the product and doesn't sound stupid or contrived
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