Audi gets Q2 and Q4 badges in trademark swap with FCA

But What Does Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Get In Return?

Audi has swapped trademarks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to snare the rights to the Q2 and Q4 badges for upcoming crossover SUVs. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler confirmed at the Detroit Motor Show that the automaker had finally persuaded FCA to release the two names that would let Audi lock up the Q1 to Q9 badges for its growing SUV family.

Audi already plans to drop the Q2 name onto its MQB-based city crossover five-door this year, while the Q4 badge will slot onto the rump of a coupe-like version of the next Q3. It will also reserve the Q1 badge for a 2018 baby crossover, based around the architecture of the next A1 hatch. The A1 will share a lot of its engineering with Volkswagen's Polo-based soft-roader, dubbed T-Cross in concept form. The German company has also pounced on the naming rights for SQ versions of all of its Q-cars, along with F-Tron to cover the day when it pushes hydrogen fuel cell cars into production.

Stadler insisted that no money had changed hands in order to pry the two badges off FCA, admitting that they had "each found something we needed."

"We promised each other we wouldn't disclose what it cost, but it was not something they were willing to sell," Stadler said. "We tried to get it years ago and they said 'No, never,' but there is never 'never' in business. ... This year I went back to them with a proposal and we talked and there were some negotiations and then we agreed to it."

Those negotiations are believed to have centered on a trademark swap with a Volkswagen Group name that FCA desperately (evidently) wants to use on a Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge or Maserati. Asked if Audi had given FCA a trademark in return for Q2 and Q4, Stadler replied, "Something very much like that, yes."

Audi has used Italian names on past concept cars that FCA could be interested in, such as the 2001 Avantissimo concept and the 2003 Nuvolari coupe. The latter was named after legendary pre-war racer Tazio, who won grands prix for both Alfa Romeo and Audi's forerunner, Auto Union. Both are unlikely trade chips, with laws in Europe preventing the trademarking of the names of actual people.

There is always "quattro" (Italian for "four"), but after investing nearly four decades locking it in as an Audi all-wheel-drive name, it's just not anything like trade bait.

Audi has held the rights to "Duo" since 1997, but the only name sitting unused inside the Volkswagen Group with enough weight behind it is "Bora." That moniker was used on two Maserati coupes (from 1973 to 1974, and from 1975 to 1980) until the company fell into such dire financial straights that it couldn't renew the trademark and Volkswagen then used it on a Golf-based sedan from 1999 to 2004.

Both Maserati and Volkswagen had a thing for naming their cars after winds of the world, with "Bora," the name of a wind in the Adriatic Sea. Maserati's wind-name list also includes Mistral and the Khamsin.

The only Volkswagen wind name still in production is "Scirocco," a North African wind, though the Golf-based large three-door sporty hatch is unlikely to be replaced at the end of its lifecycle. The only other Italian-language name sitting unused in Volkswagen's legal department is Lupo (Italian for "wolf"), which fell out of use in 2004.

FCA had retained Q2 as a technology badge to cover its limited-slip differential technology, which morphed from mechanical to electric control. The Q4 badge, denoting all-wheel drive, last rested on the back of Maserati's Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans.

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