Mercedes and alphanumeric car names

Oh Lord won’t you buy me a AMG Coupe CLK 55: Mercedes has long named their car models using alphanumerics. It’s a system we’ve commented on before that is used by most luxury automotive brands (save Rolls Royce) designed to direct the bulk of brand equity to the Mercedes brand name rather than to a particular model. It’s very effective when you need consumers to remember three basic concepts and one or two specialty offshoots. Audi and BMW get there with the 4|6|8 and 3|5|7 designations, respectively.

Mercedes, however, is trying to get consumers to associate alphanumeric labels with nine-plus different ideas.

The bare basics are: C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, CLK-Class, CL-Class, SLK-Class, SL-Class, M-Class, G-Class, with a sprinkling of AMGs, SLRs, CDIs and MLs tossed-in where needed for greater obfuscation. And those are just the alpha vegetables in the alphanumeric soup.

Here is the whole 36-car pile up: C230 Kompressor Sport Coupe, C230 Kompressor Sport Sedan, C240 Luxury Sedan, C240 Luxury Wagon, C320 Sport Coupe, C320 Luxury Sedan, C320 Sport Sedan, C55 AMG, E320 Sedan, E320 CDI, E320 Wagon, E500 Sedan, E500 4MATIC Wagon, E55 AMG, S430 Sedan, S500 Sedan, S55 AMG, S600 Sedan, CLK320 Coupe, CLK320 Cabriolet,CLK500 Coupe, CLK500 Cabriolet, CLK55 AMG Coupe, CLK55 AMG Cabriolet, CLS500 Coupe, CLS55 AMG, CL500 Coupe, CL55, AMG CL600, Coupe, CL65 AMG, SLK 350 Roadster, SLK55 AMG Roadster, SL500 Roadster, SL55 AMG, SL600 Roadster, SL65 AMG, ML350 SUV, ML350 SUV Special Edition, ML500 SUV, ML500 SUV Special Edition, G500 SUV, G55 AMG, and SLR McLaren 4MATIC.

The vehicles are priced between $25,850 and $452,750, and the names do nothing towards differentiating one from the other; so bye-bye “envy” sales factor. Why pay a hundred and fifty big ones for a car that everyone thinks cost thirty? That’s no fun.

Cadillac, in its quest to muscle Mercedes aside has jumped into the fray with the vehicle “names” ESV, EXT, ETS, SRX and XLR, basking in the image mingling.

The only people crazy enough to learn and love the distinctions between the Mercedes C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, CLK-Class, CL-Class, SLK-Class, SL-Class, M-Class, G-Class, AMG, SLR, CDI and ML spend the remainder of their time playing “Prince of Persia, Warrior Within” on the Xbox and aren’t likely to purchase a car without parental consent.

Here is how some of the hairs are split:

C-Class Overview
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers more value and choice than ever before with the most models and body styles to choose from, and MSRPs starting under $30,000.

E-Class Overview
Offering European sophistication and performance, the exhilarating Mercedes-Benz E-Class combines the best of sedan luxury with the comfort of a wagon.

S-Class Overview
The premier luxury sedan in the world, the S-Class is the unparalleled expression of elegance, technological innovation, charismatic styling and pure driving pleasure.

CLK-Class Overview
Available in both luxury convertible and pillarless coupe models, the CLK-Class is one of the world’s most desirable and exhilarating forms of pure driving pleasure.

CLS-Class Overview
The CLS-Class redefines what a coupe can be. It offers expressive style, poised performance, a 4-seat cabin, but with four doors.

CL-Class Overview
The CL-Class is not just a distinctive and exclusive leader in the luxury coupe market. With its intense performance and refined style, it demands to be driven.

SLK-Class Overview
From its muscular stance inspired by Formula One racing to its athletic performance, the SLK-Class roadster delivers aggressive sports car styling and an exhilarating driving experience

SL-Class Overview
The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is the latest incarnation of an unmatched automotive legacy, combining unrivaled technological excellence, passionate performance and timeless elegance into flawless perfection.

M-Class Overview
The M-Class is an ever-ready companion whose exemplary design, comprehensive safety features and unmatched versatility make it perfect for active and adventurous lifestyles.

On the edge of your seat for the Mercedes definitions behind G-Class, AMG, SLR, CDI and ML? Of course not — it’s too much work and there’s no reward — two things luxury should never be.

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Automotive naming by numbers

The naming convention recently announced by Intel for its new processors is similar to that of carmaker BMW, which is acknowledged by Intel. In fact, it is reported that Intel discussed its plans with BMW before adopting the new naming by numbers, “with an eye to respecting another company’s intellectual property.”

But BMW is not the only automobile manufacturer that uses “numerology” to brand its marques. Perhaps no automotive brand has a more established tradition of using a numerical sequence to distinguish its models than does Peugeot. As far back as 1929, the French automaker began this regimen with the introduction of the Peugeot 201 at the Paris Auto Show. Since then, they’ve brought these memorable cars to market: 201, 301, 401, 601, 302, 402, 202, 203, 403, 404, 204, 504, 304, 104, 604, 305, 505, 205, 309, 405, 905, 605, 106, 306, 206, 406, 806, 607, 307, 807, and the 407. As might be evident to those trained in branding by numbers, all of these models have the distinctive 0 strategically placed in the center of the model number. Some consider it a “signature” of the famous brand.

The 3-digit identity is an essential component of Peugeot’s brand identity. Conveying a very positive image for the company, the system evokes quality, technology and performance. Approved by customers around the world, this numbering system operates as a sign of recognition and makes it easy to differentiate between models in the range: a central zero with a number on either side. It has not changed since the launch of the 201, and provides three items of information about the model concerned:

The first number indicates the family to which the vehicle belongs, its size in the range. The second digit — always 0 — is the link between the number denoting membership of a particular family and that denoting a particular generation. The third figure indicates the generation of the model.

[source: For Peugeot, Numbers are Sacred…]

Logical, yes; memorable, no. To naming and branding mavericks, it might seem that the Peugeot brand is stuck in some sort of rut. But that’s hardly the case. Recently, Peugeot announced some exciting changes in the brand’s traditional naming system.

[I]n response to market fragmentation and the consequent need for a wider range of products, each with strong distinguishing features, Peugeot has decided to expand its naming system by doubling the central 0.

The inauguration of this four-digit naming system coincides with this year’s launch by Peugeot of a new, original and innovative model that will be positioned as an extension of its existing range.

Have you seen the 2004 2004?

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