11 JAN. 2018

Automobile Naming Trends from 2017 International Auto Shows

Yiming Du

Brand Naming Team

After the ending of Frankfurt auto show in September and Guangzhou auto show in November, the competition among automobile manufacturers came to an end in 2017. In the second half of 2017, a majority of auto brands, old and new, launched new models and the competition among new energy cars turned white-hot. In this article, we will take a look into new trends of naming in automobile industry from international auto shows in the second half of 2017.

Naming Trends in New Automotive Brands

Three new electric automobile brands came on stage. After launching the first concept car in 2015 Frankfurt auto show, Taiwan Changwei Ltd released its electric car brand Thunder Power, taking Tesla as the benchmark.

Future Mobility Corporation(FMC,CN name“和谐富腾 [hé xié fù téng]”), co-founded by Foxconn, Tencent and Hexie auto in 2015, was renamed Zhixing(知行 [zhī xíng])after the change of investors (Hexie auto, Lihe auto, Jinheng Capital and management layer of FMC) and launched auto brand “BYTON 拜腾” [bài téng].

Polestar, used to be a high-performing department under Volvo, spin off as a new energy car brand, positioning itself as “global high-performance auto company in electrification”.

Thunder Power

These three brand names deliver different message and image.

  • Thunder Power is an example of applying astronomical term as the brand name, which is the mainstream method in automobile industry. The strength and explosive force of thunder brings out the infinite power of electric automobile. As a dictionary word, Thunder Power is easy to understand and communicate.

    The brand hasn’t launched its Chinese name yet, and the corporate name “昶洧”[chǎng wěi] is rarely used which cannot be identified by most of the consumers. It is a basic principle for a name to be readable and understandable. We hope the Chinese name of Thunder Power will be a good one.

  • BYTON means “Byte on wheels”, feeling digital and futuristic. The concept “internet + automobile” highlights the product positioning “A new generation of smart terminals”. In contrast, the Chinese name “拜腾”[bài téng] is relatively conventional, which does not deliver features of internet automobile. “腾”[téng] is also overused in the industry and therefore hard to make a difference from competitors.
  • Polestar is also named by using an astronomical term, delivering an explorative and guiding spirit. Polestar also indicates the region of Scandinavia, the birthplace of the brand. We look forward to its Chinese name.

Naming Trend in New Car Models:

Newly launched car models in 2017 Frankfurt and Guangzhou auto shows are also worthy of attention. Skoda launched the second SUV KAROQ following the first one KODIAQ released in 2017 Shanghai auto show. Hyundai launched Kona in Frankfurt auto show, but named the same car as Encino in Guangzhou auto show. 

Naming of car models follow two main methods: “sharing family root” and “recurrence of vintage”.

Volkswagen nomenclature is a representative of “sharing family root” naming method. The company launched T-ROC in 2017 Frankfurt auto show following the compact SUV model T-cross released in 2016. And the concept car Taigun released in 2012 St. Paul auto show is renamed as T-Track and the mass production will begin in 2020.

Looking at Skoda family, KAROQ carries on the DNA of KODIAQ, continuing to tell the story of exploring Alaska. The Chinese name 柯珞克 has a little problem due to the character “珞” [luò]: jade. As it is not a commonly used character, many consumers misread it as [ke]. Therefore, the name might be read as [ke ke ke] which is very bizarre.

Talking about “recurrence of vintage”, Valkyrie launched by Aston Martin and Stelvio launched by Alpha Romeo in the first half of 2017 are both good examples. In the second half of 2017, Isabella, the first non-SUV model launched by Borgward, also took the name from a coupe released in 1954. The elegant name and the retro style of the car leave a deep impression to the audience.


The meaning and concept reflected by these model names follow the cultural and lifestyle trend of the young generation. The key concept of speed and vitality is conveyed in a simple and modern way.

  • Green intelligent: Mondeo energi, EXEED TX, Encino

Nowadays, new energy and intelligent technology are strong selling points of cars. Many brands choose to reflect these elements in model names. For instance, Ford Mondeo released Energi, a plug-in hybrid car model. The letter “i” at the end brings intelligent feeling. Similarly, Chery EXEED TX uses “X” to add a sense of black technology. Enicino, introduced into China by Hyundai, well combines green technology (“evergreen” in Spanish) and vitality in California (Encino is a place in Los Angeles).


  • Personification: Model Young, Carchet 凯绅 [kǎi shēn] (Chinese name meaning: victorious gentleman)

Model Young feels like a hot-blooded youngster in “the rap of China”, pursuing individuality and fast pace. Carchet 凯绅 [kǎi shēn] is like a noble gentleman with winning spirit and good manner. The different images correspond to the different target consumers of the two models.


Model Young

  • Exotic charm: Kona

A number of car models tend to reflect exoticism through person name, place name or specific terms in foreign language. Kona, the new model launched by Hyundai in 2017 Frankfurt auto show, is the name of a type of storm in Hawaii, easily reminding of the enthusiasm and passion of tropical beach. 

From these naming trends we can tell more and more brands chose to communicate in a storytelling or personified way, rather than technically combining characters of speed or power. Storytelling can build a vivid brand image and help the brand to be more differentiated and recognizable. The main car consumers are post-90s, or even post-95s now. They pursue individuality and expect to show their own attitude and value through their beloved brands. As the leading naming expert in automobile industry (our clients include Volkswagen, Renault, Land Rover, NIO, etc.), Labbrand will continue to pay attention to new trends in the industry.

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