Auto Naming Insights

Embrace New Trends—2021 Auto Naming Insights

Due to the epidemic, the five major global auto shows have all been cancelled this year. As the world's first A-class auto show in 2021, the 19th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition (hereinafter referred to as "Auto Shanghai 2021") is exceptionally compelling.

The theme of Auto Shanghai 2021 is "Embracing Change." Change refers to the regular passing from one condition to another. This makes people wonder how the Auto Shanghai itself has changed in the past few years. 4 years ago, traditional oil-fueled vehicles still took the center stage at Auto Shanghai 2017; entering 2019, with the show theme " To Co-Create a Better Life", the trends of " interactivity" and "sharing" has begun to make their marks. This year, NEVs (New-Energy Vehicles) are fully occupying the stage—almost all mainstream auto companies have released their NEV models or related development plans. Participants include more than 1,000 companies, covering local and foreign auto giants, new Internet auto manufacturers and international first-line component suppliers; meanwhile, over 200 new vehicles made their debuts on this occasion.

So what are the trends and changes in brand names at Auto Shanghai 2021? Let's walk into the show and find out.

Photo sequence: Allion Asiatic lion; Polar Fox - Alpha S; Huawei octopus; Aspark - OWL; Trumpchi Shadow Leopard; Roewe whale; Great Wall Euler Cat Series (Source: Google)
Photo sequence: Allion Asiatic lion; Polar Fox - Alpha S; Huawei octopus; Aspark - OWL; Trumpchi Shadow Leopard; Roewe whale; Great Wall Euler Cat Series (Source: Google)

Animal League:

ALLION / ARCFOX-Alpha-S / HUAWEI Octopus / Aspark-OWL / Trumpchi-EMPOW55 / Roewe-Jing / Haval-JOLION / Great Wall Motors- Ora Cat Series

With Internet industry development in recent China, cases of using animals in a name have been very common for local brands. In fact, it is a concrete and symbolic naming method aiming to establish a strong memory point and to promote communication with vivid images. In the auto industry, the Animal League has an “all-star” lineup. Let’s find out what are the new blood this year?

As we all know, ALLION (Chinese name literal translation: Asian Lion) is a follow-up to AVALON (Chinese name literal translation: Asian Dragon), launched by FAW Toyota in 2019. The brand expects that ALLION can form a flagship mix of "Dragon-Lion Dance" together with AVALON, set a new benchmark for market segments, and meet the upgrading needs of the Chinese “striving and progressive force”.

ARCFOX-Alpha-S × HUAWEI Octopus
As a first-launch brand, the name ARCFOX is composed of two parts: "ARC" stands for the ultimate realm, meaning the pursuit of self-individuality and the courage to make breakthroughs; "FOX" signifies wisdom, elegance and agility, and implies brand features such as wise, creative, aesthetic and deep discernment of humanity.

It is worth mentioning that the advent of ARCFOX is a co-performance with another aquatic animal-"HUAWEI Octopus": Octopus is known as a “primate” in the water: it has strong learning and evolution abilities, which coincides with the nature of autopilot and AI. The "Octopus" autopilot open platform keeps learning with its sensitive and rich perceptional “tentacles”, which can extend in all directions and everywhere.

Don't underestimate the car due to the cute name. This pure electric supercar from Japanese brand Aspark, is the fastest electric sports car in the world today, with 1.72-second 0-to-100km/h time. Quite surprising, isn’t it?

In addition, GAC Trumpchi-EMPOW (the Chinese name “YING’BAO” means “Phantom Leopard”), SAIC Roewe Jing (meaning “Whale”), Haval-JOLION (JOY+LION) and the new Ora Cat have made the animal alliance continuously enriched and expanded.

Mocha, Macchiato and Havard First Love from Wey (Source: Google)
Mocha, Macchiato and Havard First Love from Wey (Source: Google)


Have a cup of "Mocha", sing a "LYRIQ" to your "First Love"-can life be more "Versailles"?

Mocha & Macchiato
In addition to the gathering of "cute pets", this time WEY has introduced "Coffee Bros" - Mocha and Macchiato. Those who are always following the auto-updates may immediately think of the "L.E.M.O.N. Platform + Coffee Smart Ecology" philosophy launched by GWM. Indeed, the brand hopes that travel can be integrated into users' daily life like coffee does, and be a carrier for users' pursuit of a better life.

Haval-First Love
The Chinese name of Haval-JOLION is CHU’LIAN (meaning “First Love”), implying "the best choice for young people's first vehicle."

In addition, Cadillac LYRIQ and Citroen C5X are also representative models of romantic elegance. The Chinese name of the latter is FAN’ER’SAI (meaning "Versailles"). According to Citroen GM, instead of deriving from the catchword FAN’ER’SAI’WEN’XUE ("Versailles Literature", a hot word appearing in 2020 meaning humble bragging), the name came from the brand's verbal strategy system 20 years ago.

The futuristic Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR (Source: Google)
The futuristic Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR (Source: Google)


As one of the major first-launch brands at the exhibition, ZEEKR 001 is positioned as a "trendy technology brand". The name represents never settling to product performance and audience experience, as well as brand’s technological power beyond imagination.

The Krypton Car (Source: Google)
The Krypton Car (Source: Google)

Jointly created by SAIC, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech and Alibaba, the new auto-making force "IM" pictures the vision of discovering oneself through intelligent exploration, and creating a new era of smart mobility between human and vehicles.

IM (Source: Google)
IM (Source: Google)

The "most adorable height difference" at the show would be Great Wall-Tank and Hongguang-MINI:

Following 300, Great Wall-Tank launched two new models, 700 and 800 this time. "Tank", a hot-blooded hardcore name, boldly integrates the interests of "heavy off-road" and "intelligent comfort" with the brand’s "strong-willed but gentle-minded" value proposition. Behind the impact of the rough appearance is the self-confidence in the brand's own technology, which helps build up the emotional resonance with users.

God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light. Similarly, Wuling makes whatever people need: since the instant hit last year, Hongguang MINI EV has been particularly compelling among the young audience. This time, Hongguang launched the convertible MINI EV CABRIO, which will certainly capture more tastemakers in a fashionable and unrestrained way.

Great Wall - Tank and Wuling - Hongguang Mini's cutest height difference (Source: Google)
Great Wall - Tank and Wuling - Hongguang Mini's cutest height difference (Source: Google)

Meantime, some names have generated heated discussions:

Evergrande launched the "Hengchi 5" at this auto show. The name "Hengchi" is quite “OLD-FASHIONED” in the industry in terms of wording and tone of voice (Heng: everlasting; Chi: gallop, which is overly used in auto Chinese naming). In addition, the car logo design seems incompatible with modern style. These make it difficult to associate the brand with a fire-new auto-making force.

The Chinese and English names of Haval “CHU’LIAN-JOLION” seem not related. However, the two concepts “First Love” and “Joy Lion” were putting on the same car, creating inevitably a sense of mismatching, which is not a plus in forming a unified brand image.


From "Karoq" and "Lynk&Co", to "Geometry" and "Leapmotor", and then to "Octopus" and "First Love"...within only four years, the three Shanghai Auto Shows have presented a "mini naming evolution". The traditional grand naming style has quietly faded out; even names with purely technological touch have gradually fallen behind those new, extremely life-oriented ones. What is the reason behind it?

In fact, for a long time, vehicles, together with houses and money, have been called the "three major capitals" for ordinary Chinese. Once upon a time, it was a supreme goal that needed unremitting struggle to fulfill. Thus, it is not surprising that the tonality of most auto names on the market was either grand, leading, or international at that time. With the passage of time, people's consumption levels have increased prominently, and automobiles have entered the homes of ordinary people. With the increasing maturity of NEVs and the market expansion, it becomes increasingly challenging for a brand to get rid of the homogenization situation, with a name solely emphasizing technology itself.

Animal alliance or poetic life, behind the fresh and catching names, the distance between brands and audience is infinitely narrowed thanks to auto technological innovation and the trend of interactivity. The vehicle has not only become something that more ordinary people are able to touch, but also connects us with a far different role. The rapid technology changes have made people constantly rethink and define the meaning of travel life. There is no eternal answer, but this topic constantly leads us forward and strives for a better life.

As a branding expert, Labbrand continuously follows the trends of the auto industry. Having worked closely with many local and international auto companies over the years, assisting them in shaping a vivid, moving brand from multiple dimensions, we look forward to the new industry tendency with you in the future.



  • Labbrand Naming Team,

    Labbrand, Shanghai