Auto Shanghai 2015: New-Energy Vehicles’ Naming Strategy

New-energy vehicle (NEV) is no not a new term for Chinese consumers. The Tesla fever has been burning for a few years. The government has also implemented a subsidy policy that rewards NEV buyers with free Shanghai licenses, pushing the popularity of this concept to a new high. Auto Shanghai 2015 naturally became a showroom for new-energy vehicles and caught the attention of many visitors.

The name of a car is like its second ‘face’. For the new-energy vehicle industry, being an emerging market, the industry as a whole and its manufacturers should all be seen as innovators. In this context, every brand is trying their very best to create the most ‘innovative’ and ‘groundbreaking’ name. Today we are taking a closer look at the names of the new-energy vehicle companies and models. What are their highlights? What’s the connection with new energy?

New-energy Vehicle Manufacturer Brands

New-energy Vehicle Manufacturer Brands

Compared to the names of traditional automotive brands such as BMW (宝马, precious horse), Volkswagen (大众, public/ people) or Roewe (荣威, honor and power), most of the NEV companies have a much more ‘refreshing’ names. Here are some of their differentiating naming strategy:

  • Relatively low association with the automotive industry (by avoiding characters often used in automotive brand naming)
  • Emphasize on reflection of personality of the brand
  • A light and delightful tone
Moreover, when naming the models, many of them adopt a ‘master brand name + alphabet + number’ format. This naming format is not only easy to apply, but also helps to focus consumers’ attention at the master brand. Thus the company could build a considerable brand awareness in a shorter time period.
Beijing Electronic Vehicle Co is a unique case. It is the new-energy subsidiary of Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC). By not having an independent brand name, it is a showcase of BAIC’s commitment in the new-energy vehicle market.
New-energy Vehicle Models (only models shown at Auto Shanghai 2015 are listed)
Zotye: Zotye E30 / E200a, Zotye Sesame E30, Zotye E200
Dongfeng Fengshen: Dongfeng Fengshen E30L
SAIC Maxus: SAIC Maxus EG10
Chery: Chery ARRIZO 3EV
Zhonghua: Zhonghua EV
Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes-Benz C350El, Mercedes-Benz GLE 500e 4MATIC
BMW: BMW X5xDrive40e
Audi: Audi A6L e-tron, Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0TFSI quattro
Toyota: Toyota Mirai (‘future’ in Japanese), Toyota Corolla/ Levin Hybrid
BYD: BYD Song, BYD Yuan, BYD E5, BYD T3
Presented with the huge opportunity of new-energy, automotive manufacturers are eager to get into the game. Because most of the projects are still in an early stage, the majority of the car companies did not create a new brand dedicated to this category. Their approach is to develop new electronic or hybrid versions based on existing car models. Some car companies continue to use the ‘alphabet + number’ format to name their new cars, which is indeed easy to operate and reduces risk. However, these names might be difficult to product a strong impression among consumers and fail to highlight the differentiating strength of the new-energy vehicles.
Comparatively speaking, creating a new independent name for the new-energy vehicles, e.g. BYD’s Song and Yuan, Toyota Mirai, is a more empowering approach for brands. With a strong commitment from brands to increase investments in this sector’s branding and marketing campaigns, consumers will become more familiar with the new-energy vehicle category and come to appreciate the vehicles. It is a strong category in the Chinese automotive industry with high growth potential, we will continue to bring you fresh and interesting news from this category in our future articles.