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Why Do Concept Cars Have Such Weird Names?

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author photo by Eric Brandt January 2018

When the Subaru Ascent was unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show in November, my first thought was "It's a shame it doesn't look more like ... that one Subaru concept." Then I realized "that one concept" I was thinking of was called the Viziv-7 -- not exactly a memorable name.

After I had to do some Googling to find the Viziv-7, that really got me thinking about how weird concept car names have become. Viziv-7? What does that mean? The "7" could reasonably represent the number of seats in the vehicle, but what does the bizarre palindrome "Viziv" mean? An easy conclusion would be that automakers have simply run out of names to give to cars, but Subaru managed to come up with "Ascent" -- a far better name for a crossover.

That's not to say making up names for cars is a bad thing. "Camaro" isn't a real word, and that's a fantastic name. But names of concept cars are just getting too weird. A couple other good examples are the Toyota FT-AC and FT-4X SUV concepts. What do those jumbles of letters and numbers mean? I thought meaningless abbreviations were a luxury-car thing. Is that annoying trend going to bleed into regular cars too?

Then there's the Volkswagen I.D. Crozz crossover (crozzover?). So close to being a real word, but they just had to be quirky and weird and throw in those "z"s at the end. The I.D. part is fine, as that's the name of Volkswagen's upcoming sub-brand of electric cars -- but I sure hope they don't see themselves making a production vehicle called "Crozz."

What I do like to see on concept cars is names that eventually make it to real cars. A great example is the Camaro concept that was the precursor to the fifth-gen Camaro. It started with the Camaro concept that made waves at the 2006 Detroit auto show, and the 2007 Camaro convertible concept that was at the following year's show. That was a concept car that turned into a real car, and it's one of the best examples of a production car staying true to its concept.

The same thing happened more recently with the Lincoln Continental concept. Lincoln brought a bold Continental concept to the 2015 New York Auto Show to test the waters for what would become the brand's new flagship sedan. It was a hit and people loved it, so they turned it into a real car. It's also serving as a step away from alphabet soup names at Lincoln, toward giving cars names that are words.

Both of these examples have fantastic names pulled from their respective brands' pasts. I'm not saying every concept car should have an old name, but I do think they should have names that are catchy and memorable. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say "Man, that I.D. Buzz concept was awesome!" No, instead people say, "That new concept that looks like the old VW Bus is really cool!"

If we keep going down this road, I can't help but believe automakers will soon simply use emojis to name concept cars.

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Why Do Concept Cars Have Such Weird Names? - Autotrader