What's in a name? This cliched phrase probably gets tossed out at every marketing meeting that happens when a new car gets its nomenclature. We know the answer, though: everything. The name of a car has all the potential to make or break it with fickle customers that are more conscious than ever about what their purchases say about them.

That's giving headaches to marketing folks across the automotive industry. "It's tough. In 1985 there were about 75,000 names trademarked in the automotive space. Today there are 800,000," Chevrolet's head of marketing, Russ Clark, told Automotive News. Infiniti's president, Johan de Nysschen, echoed Clark's sentiment, saying, "The truth of the matter is, across the world, there is hardly a name or a letter that hasn't already been claimed by one car manufacturer or another. You can go through the alphabet - A, B, C and so forth - and you will quickly see that almost all available letters are taken."

What has that left automakers to do? Get creative. In the case of Infiniti, it made the controversial move to bring all of its cars' names into a new scheme, classifying them as Q#0 for cars and QX#0 for SUVs and crossovers. So the Infiniti G, which was available as the G25 and G37, is now the Q50. The FX37 and FX50 are now the QX70.

Chevrolet got equally creative in naming its three new compact cars - Spark, Sonic and Cruze. "The new names of the small cars communicate a break with the past, where Chevrolet wasn't so good at small cars," Jeff Schsuter, senior vice president of analysis firm LMC Automotive, told AN. The small-car approach contrasted with the Impala, though, with Schuster saying, "What Chevy is communicating [with the Impala name] is that this is the car's true heritage. They're saying, 'This is the real Impala that you know and expect from Chevrolet.'"

And while Chevy has seen success with all four of its new models, the name change thing isn't being recommended by analysts, with ALG's president, Larry Dominique, telling AN, "My feeling is always that, unless you're trying to get away from a bad association, just keep the name you have."


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 19 Comments
      taucephei
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think the new Impala is pretty sweet... and I've always hated the Impala.
      imoore
      • 1 Year Ago
      Frankly, this alphanumeric deal is getting ridiculous. Why not use a familiar name, add a new twist to a familiar name, or just create something out of the blue? The Chinese, for example, come up with weird and crazy names for their cars, but al least they're original.
        S.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @imoore
        The 2015 Chevrolet Happy Fun Car
        HH
        • 1 Year Ago
        @imoore
        Mazda GLC (Great Little Car)? Personally I preferred Integra, Legend, and NSX to the current Acura names. It also helped that those were standout products, of course. But even 'Vigor' seems more evocative to me than TL (or TLX for that matter.)
      Cruising
      • 1 Year Ago
      Still waiting for the Ford Mulally, Chevy Lutz and the Dodge Gilles SRT models.
      nocommie11
      • 1 Year Ago
      What about Family Truckster or The Homer, those are the classic names.
      Greg
      • 1 Year Ago
      How many of these car names have actually been used on a real car? If they haven't strip them of the trademark. That would clear the clutter and encourage companies to actually use the names they claim.
      dohc73
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hmm, I thought it was just logical that when Chevy named the Cruze, it was trying to group themselves with with the other compact cars that were most popular that happened to be spelled with the letter "C", Corolla and Civic. Or maybe it was just to stick with names that start with the letter "C" as they did in the past as with the Cavalier and Cobalt.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        [blocked]
      Kevin Potts
      • 1 Year Ago
      Should be illegal to own/sell a trademark without it being part of an actual product/service. It's just wasteful litigation.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Big Squid
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm sure most of those are junk. Who wants to buy a Ford Hijodeputa or a Honda Necrotizing Fascitis anyway?
    • Load More Comments