What It Is Called Again?

The twists and turns of successfully naming a car.

The car marketplace is facing a serious crisis. Where there doesn’t are any way out. They’ve done everything easy to rectify the circumstance. They’ve called in consultants, they’ve hired experts and they’ve even brainstormed for several days. But no, it all seems hopeless. There’s little doubt, not only are we not having enough fossil fuels (the Arabs are already telling us that considering that the ’70s), our company is now running out of names. It’s a crisis of Biblical proportions.

Of course, a technique out is usually to play it safe. Can’t think of a adequate new name? Not to worry – you could always use the FIA-mandated word ‘Grand’ to differentiate your new model. And there’ve been several Grands, several. There were scores of others who’ve used the word to re-name a product or service, even though hyundai’s Grand i10 may be the newest ‘Grand’ offender. Let’s see. There’s the Armada Grand, the Sumo Grande, the Grande Punto, the Grand Vitara, the Grand Cherokee, and last but not minimal, the Ambassador Grand. Why no one has registered the name Grande or Grand is, however, beyond me.

But jokes apart, it is actually daunting to list a car. You have everything to lose and almost nothing to gain. And once you’ve named a vehicle, there’s no pulling back. “Err, sorry guys, we’ve had a change of heart. We’re changing the name of the car next week” – you merely can’t do this. So, manufacturers sometimes get stuck with names they know are somewhat rude or inappropriate. Mazda’s version of the Suzuki K-car, for example, was referred to as Laputa, which in Spanish translates to ‘lady of the night’. Pajero is even ruder, and Daihatsu even called one of its best cars a Charade.


Some companies, however, have got away from it by the skin of their teeth. Audi’s strategically located hyphen in e-tron prevented it from meaning ‘natural manure’ in French, and Honda almost named its large hatch Fitta. It was shortened to Fit within the nick of time; this is another very rude word in Swedish and French. We’ve had our own naming disaster here too. Skoda infamously named its Octavia replacement the Laura: how?

For names that are simply hilarious, check out the Chinese car industry. Here are some random gems – Gonow, Great Wall Wingle, Huanghai Landscape, Jiangsu Golden Lake Continental, Jonway A380 and Golden Dragon Righto: yes, these are all cars. It’s impossible to help make this up.

In contrast, Indian manufacturers haven’t done too badly. While both Tata and M&M have used Grande or Grand, they’ve managed to be distinctive and original recently. This can’t be said of Maruti though, especially when it comes to special editions. It’s been trawling names of successful cars of late; just how do you explain Swift RS and and God help us, Wagon R Stingray? Isn’t anything holy? And what is an AltoK10 Knightracer and a Swift Alpha? And what of Royal Enfield’s Bentley-like Continental GT, the confusing McLaren MP4-12C and also the distinctly odd LaFerrari?

So, if you’re responsible for naming a car, make sure you avoid already successful names, stay away from the phrase Grand or Grande, and try not to name the car after random bits of genitalia.

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