This article was published on March 9, 2021

Why are the names of EVs so goddamn boring?

Seriously, who came up with it?

Why are the names of EVs so goddamn boring?
Matthew Beedham
Story by

Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

It’s getting harder by the day to keep up with all the new electric vehicle announcements. Not because there are so many, but because the names of the cars are so goddam uninspiring, and well, frankly quite boring.

Today, the motoring press been saturated with news of Kia’s new all-electric vehicle. The South Korean carmaker has sent ripples of excitement through the industry, so you’d be forgiven for thinking it has a really exciting name, but you’d be wrong.

Kia has decided to call its upcoming electric car, the EV6. Clearly it stands for Electric Vehicle 6. TechCrunch was bold enough to say this was part of a new naming strategy… playing fast and loose with the word strategy there folks.

If randomly plucking letters and numbers out of the air, and cobbling them together into some kind of lexicographic order, is a strategy, well, I don’t know what’s real anymore.

Kia’s sister company is no better. Just a few weeks ago, Hyundai announced its first EV that will fall under its pure electric EV brand, Ioniq. The imaginatively named “5.”

Credit: Hyundai
The Ioniq 5 is not a hatchback, it’s a crossover. Or so Hyundai tells us.

“5” just doesn’t do the car justice. It looks great, and it’s got some really cool features, like the ability to use the high-voltage battery to power external devices like ebikes, laptops, and fridges.

But no, Hyundai couldn’t come up with an equally interesting name, instead deciding to call it the 5. Presumably, 4 wasn’t enough, and 6 was just a little too much.

Now, Hyundai and Kia are both legacy carmakers, so we can’t blame them for perhaps lacking a bit of progressive creativity. But even new electric vehicle startups are falling foul of this sin.

In China, EV startup Xpeng, faced with a world of possibility, a totally clean slate, and no history encumbering its creative decisions had the opportunity to do something new and fresh, but nah.

Like Kia and Hyundai, Xpeng is opting for letters and numbers to name its cars. The company currently offers the plainly named G3, an electric SUV, and the P7, a sedan positioned against the Tesla Model 3.

Oh, that reminds me… Tesla.

If we head west, and look to European and American carmakers, the situation doesn’t appear to get any better.

Taken on their own, Tesla’s vehicle names are, like the rest here, uninspired, and devoid of personality. We all know them, but for the sake of it they are Model S, 3, X, and Y…

When taken together, yes, they spell out “sexy,” because Elon Musk has the humor of a 13-year-old. When the company eventually builds its Cybertruck, ATV, Roadster, and Semi truck, it’ll spell out sexy cars… Like I said, 13-years-old.

Perhaps the Germans can do better? Nope.

Let’s start with Volkswagen, one of the world’s biggest carmakers. Some of motoring’s most iconic marketing campaigns were developed by VW, but it seems its creativity is lacking in the era of electric vehicles.

car, ev, vw, lemon
Credit: James Vaughn - Flickr
VW’s “Lemon” ad for its Beetle has gone down in the history books as one of the most iconic car ads ever. But where’s its creativity now?

With its shift to EVs well under way, VW is also leaning on letters and numbers for the names of its EVs. The ID.3 is its electric car for the people, and the ID.4, is its slightly bigger, electric car for the people.

I could be critical of BMW here too, and say the names of its electric vehicles lack a certain je ne sais quoi, but Beamer has always had the most boring of naming conventions anyway.

Perhaps we should credit BMW with starting the whole trend with its numbered Series of vehicles. For its electric cars, it’s just stuck the letter “i” in at the front to make i3, and i4. For the SUVs and crossovers, it throws and “X” in there for good measure, because as we all know “X” is synonymous with adventure and excess.

Speaking of excess. If it’s not new EVs with boring and uncreative names, its legacy carmakers reimagining old names as electric vehicles. Take GMC’s Hummer EV, or Ford’s electric Mustang as two examples.

aviar, mustang, r67
Credit: Aviar Motors
The Aviar R67 captures the essence of a Mustang better than Ford’s latest version, because it actually looks like one. It’s electric too.

They’re just as unimaginative as letters and numbers. You can re-use these names all you want Ford and GMC, but we know they’re not the real thing!

Maybe I’m just grumpy that the names of all these exciting new EVs coming to market don’t really match up to the product. But with names made up of letters and numbers, they no longer sound like evocative and emotional pieces of engineering, but boring household appliances.

Maybe I need to focus on the few companies that are giving it a stab with actual, real names. Like Porsche with its alluringly named Taycan, or Lucid with its luxurious and fluid Air.

Maybe I’m just full of hot air and need to go lie down. But seriously, why are the names of new EVs so boring? Watch this space, because while we know the lay of the land now, I still need answers.

Do EVs excite your electrons? Do ebikes get your wheels spinning? Do self-driving cars get you all charged up? 

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