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Auto blogTue, 01 Oct 2013 11:01:00 EST
What's in a name? This cliched phrase probably gets tossed out at every marketing meeting that happens when a new car gets its nomenclature. We know the answer, though: everything. The name of a car has all the potential to make or break it with fickle customers that are more conscious than ever about what their purchases say about them.
That's giving headaches to marketing folks across the automotive industry. "It's tough. In 1985 there were about 75,000 names trademarked in the automotive space. Today there are 800,000," Chevrolet's head of marketing, Russ Clark, told Automotive News. Infiniti's president, Johan de Nysschen, echoed Clark's sentiment, saying, "The truth of the matter is, across the world, there is hardly a name or a letter that hasn't already been claimed by one car manufacturer or another. You can go through the alphabet - A, B, C and so forth - and you will quickly see that almost all available letters are taken."
What has that left automakers to do? Get creative. In the case of Infiniti, it made the controversial move to bring all of its cars' names into a new scheme, classifying them as Q#0 for cars and QX#0 for SUVs and crossovers. So the Infiniti G, which was available as the G25 and G37, is now the Q50. The FX37 and FX50 are now the QX70.
Edmunds has worked up a piece that tries to figure out just how much the global Chevrolet Corvette economy is worth, a spitballed guesstimate putting the number at more than $2.5 billion with the proviso that the number is probably low. It starts by taking Corvette's new car sales of 14,132 units last year, which would equate to $714,725,900 (including destination) assuming ever car sold was a base coupe with no options. In the final tally, a little extra padding gets that number up to $750,000,000.
But that's not all. Consider this: Many of the almost 1.4 million Corvettes produced over the model's history are still on the road. There are new parts being produced and aftermarket companies like Mid-America Motorworks deaing business, that single Illinois company doing more than $40 million a year in sales. There are the Corvette events large and small, restorers who do nothing but Corvettes, salvage yards that deal only in used Corvette parts and the Corvette magazines where owners find all this stuff.
And then there are the Corvette-themed tchotchkes, every single one of which provides a tiny contribution to the huge licensing royalties that General Motors collects every year. The article admits there's no way to come to an accurate number, but it just goes to show how valuable one specific model can be to a company.
We've been on the fence with NASCAR for some time now. On one hand, it's some of the closest racing anywhere in motorsports, with actual passing and door-handle-to-door-handle action as a matter of course. But on the other, it's become template racing - a personality-driven sport more about the drivers than any sort of loyalty to a particular automaker. The Car Of Tomorrow format really rammed that message home, with a racecar's identity coming down to little more than headlamp stickers slapped on the nose. That's not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but we've wondered for some time what's in it for the automakers, who pay big money to stay in a series that has had little increasingly little do with street car sales, let alone innovation.
Apparently General Motors was beginning to wonder the same thing. In a new ESPN report, Rick Hendrick, team owner of Hendrick Motorsports, suggests that GM would have seriously considered leaving NASCAR if it wasn't for the move away from the COT to the new Gen 6 racer. According to Hendrick, GM North America boss Mark Reuss spearheaded the charge away from the 2007 COT and toward a racecar with clearer automaker ties - cars like the new Chevrolet SS racer shown above. Learn more about the fight for a closer-to-production look in the ESPN story at the link.
Now, if we could just get more rear-wheel drive V8 coupes into showrooms....