What's something that sucks about your car

When car names become a handle in the toilet : Defecation from Audi, shit from Toyota

Wankers, bowel movements, bullshit - all car names. Different linguistic meanings around the world trigger this problem. For car manufacturers, finding a name is therefore a mined area. But model names are an important part of their advertising.

Such a mishap would be a nightmare for the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer Porsche. For the premium cars from the Zuffenhausen-based company, the best is just good enough - and then a mistake in the naming? Unthinkable. The Swabians named their youngest offspring Macan - this is derived from the Indonesian word for tiger. "With the Tiger Association, the Macan is sleek, powerful, fascinating and 'on the go'", said Marketing Director Bernhard Maier about the new name.

The name of the Macan will soon be read a thousand times before it hits car dealerships in 2013. Porsche currently only uses a number combination for the classic 911. The rest are: Boxster, Cayman, Panamera, Cayenne and now Macan. Ideally, model names should convey emotions, bring customers to the car as if over a bridge, and if everything runs smoothly, the names even become brands. The VW Golf is such an example. The Golf class is often referred to, and what is meant is the compact car class. This is how dominant is the Wolfsburg best seller, which will probably never be called any other until its end.

Mistakes by Audi and Mitsubishi

But a lot can go wrong with the name. One example is Audi's e-tron model series. In French, étron means piling up or defecating. Such a name creation seems daring. Fine points like hyphen and accent aigu or not: it is, pardon me, disreputable. Audi and France are only separated by a few hundred kilometers.

It is different with the Japanese and South Americans, there is a whole ocean between them. Perhaps that explains why Mitsubishi named a model Pajero. In the South American region around Chile and Argentina that means wanker. The vulgar meaning - "el pajero" - is even found in many dictionaries.

A South American big cat - zoological name "felis pajero" - is the namesake, as Mitsubishi reports. Properties of this "lithe and graceful wildcat" were rightly ascribed to the Pajero. The company reconstructs its faux pas as follows: "Mitsubishi has not considered one thing: Pajero is the zoological name for a wildcat, but in the Spanish vulgar language of all things, 'pajero' has a meaning that cannot be reproduced." However, Mitsubishi has to admit: "Unfortunately, we do not know at what time this was recognized." In the meantime there are alternatives, in Spain for example "Montero" (mountain hunters) and in Great Britain "Shogun".

Toyota very pragmatic

And to take another look at the Far East: Toyota's MR2 is an abbreviation that stands for mid-engine, rear-wheel drive and two-seater. Spelled in French, MR2 sounds like "merde" - and has therefore literally been perverted under the curse of "shit". Toyota solved the case pragmatically: In France the car is called MR. Professional naming therefore leaves nothing to chance.
An entire industry has long lived from finding out what the best product names could be. The Düsseldorf agency Nomen, for example, is one of the agencies that does this for companies.

Sybille Kircher is the managing partner there. "In the course of globalization, more and more products are being marketed internationally. In terms of uniform marketing, you should therefore pay attention to the legal and linguistic usability of your own brand names in all potential sales markets in good time," she wrote in a specialist article. "It is the exception, not the rule, that products sell despite having a negative meaning." (dpa)

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