Volkswagen of America has taken the occasion of adding another offering to its U.S. portfolio of sport-utility vehicles to get back to its roots, dare we say, strength … odd, quirky names starting with the letter “T.”
The upside is that the new compact SUV that will debut Oct. 13 gets a moniker that many will at least recognize as a person, place or thing — in this case, it’s a place: Taos. Of course, like all of the other utes in VW’s North American line-up, Taos was chosen to “resonate” with U.S. buyers.
“We’re thrilled to announce the name for the newest member of the Volkswagen family,” said Hein Schafer, senior vice president for Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America Inc. “It was important to choose a name that really embodied the nature of the car and the town of Taos, New Mexico was a perfect fit. It’s a small city that offers big things—from outdoor adventure to arts and design and great cuisine.”
For those with short memories, VW had gotten away from the “what-the-what?” nomenclature strategy that brought us Touareg and Tiguan with its most recent SUV, the Atlas. Some believed it was because it was specifically aimed at the North American market.
In case you missed it, the Touareg debuted in 2002 in Europe and the U.S. Finding a good name is always a struggle (ask the folks at GM who reportedly ordered pizza and sat around a board room to come up with Catera!) and waiting for inspiration to strike is oftentimes difficult and trying.
Naturally, the thoughts of the marketing folks in Wolfsburg, Germany turned to where the vehicle would most likely be sold for divine inspiration.
It was named after the nomadic Tuareg people, inhabitants of the Saharan interior in North Africa. Ok. Odd, but at least someone can go to a map and point to sub-Saharan Africa and say, “Well, we got it from here.”
The Tiguan followed the Touareg, and if its name sounds like it was drawn out of a hat during Oktoberfest it’s because, well, there’s a chance.
Tiguan is a mashup of the German words Tiger, which unsurprisingly means tiger, and and Leguan, which means iguana. This M.C. Escher-esque pairing names was the winning entry pulled from the ute’s naming contest by German car magazine publisher Auto Bild. Other possible options? Namib, Rockton, Samun and Nanuk.
However, the odd names don’t end there, but in the case of the Amarok midsize pickup truck, which is not sold in the U.S., but has been rumored on and off to be coming (the partnership with Ford has likely ended that possibility) to American shores.
The name Amarok comes from a wolf deity in Inuit mythology. It was not chosen in a contest or by VW executives, but the advertising gurus at Interbrand. While kind of cool (and completely unrelated to a truck), that’s not the reason they chose it. Nope. Instead it’s because in some Romanic languages, Amarok loosely translates to “he loves stones or rocks.” Naturally a perfect name for a truck because it’ll get driven over rocks all the time, right?
For those of you who were all in on Amarok coming from the Simon and Garfunkel hit, “I am a Rock,” thank you for your donation. All of this said (tongue-in-cheek, of course), it’s abundantly clear that finding a good name for a vehicle can be a tough business, but there is at least one person who is very happy with the name.
“We are excited that Volkswagen has named their sport utility vehicle after the town of Taos,” said Taos Mayor Dan Barrone. “It’s a great opportunity for our community to share its rich history and culture alongside Volkswagen with its unique and rich history and culture.”