Most of us are aware that cars sometimes get different names in different markets. The Ford Mondeo, for instance, was sold as the Ford Contour in the United States. The U.S. Volkswagen Jetta is called the Bora elsewhere. I could go on, but I suspect you get the picture, and if you don’t, you should probably return to YouTube commenting.
Of all the weird "other" names given to all the cars over all the years, one strikes me as the weirdest. The compact Hyundai, sold in the United States for many years as the Hyundai Elantra, was named — in Europe and Australia — just the "Hyundai Lantra." Without the "e." That’s right: Hyundai dropped one single letter from this car’s name.
I’ve always wondered why they did this, and Wikipedia provides a little clue: Hyundai tried to call the car "Elantra" in Australia, but Mitsubishi complained that the name was too similar to its "Elante" trim level on some models. That completely makes sense, except for one little question: Why did Hyundai do it in Europe, too?! I can imagine Hyundai executives, sitting at a map with darts, randomly deciding which countries would get the "Elantra" and which would get the "Lantra."
Interestingly, if it were up to Hyundai, "Elantra" wouldn’t even be the car’s name. In Hyundai’s home market of Korea, the car is called the Hyundai Avante — a name they can’t use elsewhere due to its similarity with Audi’s "Avant" designation, which is used for station wagons. So they chose Elantra for foreign markets, and then they couldn’t use that, so they went with Lantra. Fortunately, I think this whole Lantra/Elantra thing is resolved, and Hyundai now calls the car "Elantra" everywhere but Korea.
All of this is interesting to the car geek like me, but I have to wonder about one little thing: Exactly what did it cost Hyundai to create both an "Elantra" and a "Lantra"? How much extra in tooling did it cost to make the emblems different? How much did they have to spend printing additional marketing materials just to drop an "e"? I’ll never know the answer, but I’ll always wonder just how much this "e" cost Hyundai. Find a used Hyundai Elantra for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.
Photo credit: Turbo_J