A little more on naming systems

Yesterday I took Lincoln to task for their model name system. I argued that since all their models bar one had an MK prefix, that part served no purpose. Lincoln are not alone though.

2015 Cadillac line-up. Image: Cadillac.com
2015 Cadillac line-up. Image: Cadillac.com

Automotive News  report that Citroen is thinking of revising their own model nomenclature. Currently Citroen use a C prefix and this too is redundant. Unlike Lincoln´s fairly lame scheme, at least the MK might remind one of the glory days of Lincoln´s Mark-series, the Continentals. The C-system doesn´t even do that as it simply

2015 Cadlillac ELR. Image: Cadillac.com
2015 Cadlillac ELR. Image: Cadillac.com

repeats the capital in Citroen. Guilty of the same crime is Audi with their A-prefix. In mitigation they also have a Q series, an R, RS and a TT plus the out-of-series e-Tron (of which I had not heard or at least not remembered). The RS and e-Tron are variants of the A3 so perhaps they might have considered having a suffix for the A3 cars instead of implying they are stand-alone models.Cadillac also have an alphanumeric system which is as unhelpful as Lincoln’s. For your information they are: the ATS coupe and saloon, the ELR coupe, CTS saloon, XTS saloon, the SRX cross-over and the odd-man-out Escalade ESV. This range offers a more convincing argument for Cadillac than Lincoln´s. GM has Buick to act as a middle-market brand and thus helps Cadillac avoid having cars that stray too far from the brand´s values. The argument over Cadillac and Lincoln´s systems are on-going, with some saying the old names had too much baggage and that alphanumerics are more modern, in the German style. The companies´arguments are that people should be directed to the brands’ names and not to the nameplates under those brands.

Part of Audi´s UK range, This shows the tail of the A-range, the Q-range and the misfits at the end. Image: Audi UK.
Part of Audi´s UK range, This shows the tail of the A-range, the Q-range and the misfits at the end.
Image: Audi UK.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

10 thoughts on “A little more on naming systems”

  1. With 3 numbers, you have 1,000 options to play with, assuming you would accept a 000. With the English alphabet you have 13,824. Obviously this gives Cadillac the chance to give practically any option choice its own letter sequence. Why not do that? Or use a lettering code with some logic? But theirs just confuses. Incidentally, does the Lexus system make have a logic?

  2. ‘The RS and e-Tron are variants of the A3’

    No. S, RS and e-Tron are all variants of more than one model, and the Audi naming convention is a lot more coherent than what you suggest.

  3. … I don’t find Audi’s system anywhere near as silly as Lincoln’s. It is sensible in parts but not flexible to deal with the RS and e-Tron versions. I think the RS and -Trons should be presented as suffix models to the main models. A graphic designer has the answer.

  4. Actually RS and e-Tron appear as separate entries – on the UK site at least:
    http://www.audi.co.uk/

    As for the nomenclature and whether special denominations should appear as a suffix in all case, I think you’re right even though it doesn’t really cause any confusion.

    1. That’s the page I looked at too. But when you click on RS and e-Tron you will see that there is more than one model in each category, which can also be found under each model as one of many variants. Makes a lot of sense to me.

  5. In marked contrast, I find myself applauding Rolls-Royce’s naming scheme. Making a distinction between the post-War Silver ranges that still acknowledged the past was an elegant solution, as are the names for models following the Phantom, the Wraith in particular being a favourite.

  6. With a range as small and slowly evolving such a system can last long time. For generalists like Mercedes and Ford, it has harder to sustain. I think model names are good. You can keep a name for as long as it has positive connotations and add more or delete some as needed. The Ford and Opel names are quite fine by me. If a firm has a few models they can use a few alphanumerics as it is not hard to keep track of them. Lincoln chose the appearance of a logical alphanumeric system but not the substance. They might just as well have called their six cars 932, 874, 893, 087, 319 and 889 or DFE, DFY, DFA, DFP, DF3, DRR and Navigator.

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