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Old 3rd January 2018, 10:17   #1
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Default How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

I remember my childhood days, while travelling in state highways of TN, we use to have the plain old Amby, the lonely car on the roads with occasional Mahindra Jeep or Premier Padmini aka Fiat in sight. City dwellers were a little more lucky that they can spot the flashy Maruti 800, Contessa, Standard 2000 etc more frequently.

Switch to the present days my 3 year old daughter can readily identify atleast 10-15 brands of car. She has started identifying even the variants.

Then I started noticing that the logos and badges on the cars are very important in promoting a particular brand, model or variant of that car. Then the intriguing question came to my mind how the manufacturers arrive at the variants, features etc and what to be badged outside.

Where should I find the answers for this? Where else? T-BHP.

There was an interesting observation in one of the forums that the European and American brands do not cheaply badge their variants unlike their Asian counterparts. But I felt variant badging is very important. The prospective customers can find out what variants are sold in higher numbers, even before they meet the Knowledgeable Sales Executive.

Example : Vento Tsi is obviously DSG fitted but what about DSG-TDI, why there is no way to easily identify that? Worse New Skoda-Rapid do not have even Diesel/Petrol differentiation externally. GT-TSI has DSG but what about GT-TDI?

Whats the connection between the words Sports - Longitude - Limited (Jeep Compass Variants), Active - Emotion(Fiat variants) Ambition - Style(Skoda variants)?

Logically if I would have named the Hyundai hatches it would have been ascending order of the number of letters like - Era(3)-Asta(4)-Magna(5)-Sportz(6), as the words themselves does not make any meaningful association.

Honda has letters instead S-SV-V-VX-Zx. Toyota has V-G-Z. Maruti has L*i,V*i and Z*i. Hyundai has Ex-Sx. How do they arrive at this? Is there a logic behind this?

Brandishing an TDI, CRDI, Ecoboost, Trailhawk, ABS, 4WD or Auto on the tail is helpful in familiarising the features for future buyers. But how do they decide what to display what not? Why don't they display Airbags, NCAP rating etc?

I hope the esteemed and knowledgeable members of this forum can answer these questions. And BHPians like RavenAvi who have insider knowledge can educate us more. Please raise more questions on this line so we learn together.

Note for Moderators : Excuse me for the layout as I have limited resource to write/type. Please Merge/Delete if you feel appropriate/inappropriate.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 10:45   #2
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Default re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

A nice thread indeed.

Just wanted to add a couple of more points:

1) In Maruti's lower priced models (Alto, WagonR), the variants are Lx, Vx, and Vxi. There's no Z trim. If I remember correctly, when the Swift 1st gen was launched, it did not have a fully-loaded Zdi trim, while Zxi trim was available, however, Maruti introduced it at a later stage.

2) Again, in Maruti's Nexa cars, the variants stand like this - Sigma, Delta, Zeta, Alpha.

3) TATA's variants stand something like this - XE, XM, XT, XZ. Here, the second alphabet shows the better equipped variant.

4) Mahindra follows the alpha-numeric characters for it's variants, i.e., W6, W8 (XUV500), S8, S10 (Scorpio), T6, T7 (TUV), etc.

5) Ford - Ambiente, Trend, Trend+, Titanium, Titanium+

Would love to know more about the idea behind these names.

Last edited by GTO : 3rd January 2018 at 11:17. Reason: typo
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Old 3rd January 2018, 11:16   #3
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

As if choosing the model name (e.g. Baleno) wasn't challenging enough, some brand managers have to come up with variant names too (Asta, Magna etc.). I think the process would be the usual one - bossman / committee / agency shortlists names, they run some research clinics around it and roll them out.

Here's a related thread.

On a related note, I find it funny how every manufacturer has different names / badges for common-rail direct injection diesels (CRDi, CDI etc.) and ESP (ESC, VSA, VSC, VDC, DSC etc.).

Thank god they all agree on calling ABS as ABS only, and 4x4 as 4x4 (although you have some idiotic manufacturers coming out with 4x4x4 ).
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Old 3rd January 2018, 11:45   #4
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post

Thank god they all agree on calling ABS as ABS only, and 4x4 as 4x4 (although you have some idiotic manufacturers coming out with 4x4x4 ).
but this reminds me of the tag line of a classic Land Rover advert. "The best 4x4xfar"
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Old 3rd January 2018, 11:56   #5
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

This is my conjecture but logically makes a lot of sense.

I guess the usage of X in variant names in many models has to do with two words "DeluXe" and "LuXury"

Hence when the concept of alphanumeric varianting became commonplace in the 80s & 90s, we saw quite a few manufacturers adopting "DX" / "DLX" / "LX" in their variant names. "VX", "ZX" etc. are mere extrapolations basis the convenience of the respective OEMs.

Similarly "E" is associated with "Executive" or "Economy". Hence lower variants have the letter E across many OEMs.

In Maruti, "i" stood for Power Steering equipped variants. However, for most other OEMs, "i" stands for Petrol (fuel injected variants).

In Mahindra, "+" stands for optional safety variants (in most cases esp. for lower variants)

Beyond a point, there is not much in terms of "logic". It is just a question of easy differentiation and standardisation within the OEM.

Last edited by salilpawar1 : 3rd January 2018 at 12:03.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 12:01   #6
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

Most car models sold in India have or used to have 3 variants each, and they were clearly demarcated:

L = Lower,
M = Mid,
T / V = Top.

A super-Top variant was added later to the ranks, designated as "Z".

Some companies changed the "L" for Lower to "E" for Entry-level.

"S" in most cases stands for "Standard".

"X" in any badging stands for "Luxury".

Honda's badging sounds confusing but it actually is quite clear:

E = Entry-level
S = Standard
SV = Standard with a sprinkle of some features from V variant
V = erstwhile top variant, but now is mostly second-top.
VX = Added late into the ranks. Essentially an upgrade over V.
ZX = Topmost ("Super" Top) variant which was added into the 2016 City facelift lineup.

Toyota:

J = Entry
G = Mid
V = Top
Z = "Super" Top.

The most confusing nomenclature belongs to Hyundai: Era (geological), Magna (Latin), Sportz (self-explanatory), Asta (Greek). Maybe it's their way of easily distinguishing between variants. Must say they did a good job of it, because now the car-buying public is well-versed in this.

Same goes for Ford - Base, Ambiente, Trend, Titanium. Here "Ambiente"(Spanish for atmosphere, comes from "ambience") has no connection to the others, "Trend" is usually associated with upward trends and so can be seen as a choice for the customer moving to the "next higher" variant, while "Titanium", being one of the hardest metals in nature, has been given the top honours.

Most of the variant nomenclature is a way to keep a clear demarcation between variants. But yes, like in Jeep's case, "Limited" should ideally have been the base variant, "Latitude" & "Longitude" the mid variants, and "Sport" the top variant. But it's the other way around, hence defies logic.

Some companies have started another separation as well - "+" & "(O)". Both essentially mean the same - some features over and above the specified variant's feature list. Some use the "(O)" to designate separate safety features such as airbags, but for someone like Hyundai, it's confusing. To make things worse, these variants don't get a separate "+" or "(O)" badging, unlike Maruti, Mahindra & now Tata who are using the "+". You will never find an "(O)" badging on a car variant.

As for brandishing features, it's just to keep the front, side and rears as clean as possible. Imagine the number of badges on all sides of a car showing it equipped with ABS, Airbags, ESC, 4x4, TDI, AT, HHC/HDC, etc. Thankfully, for each case, there's a company brochure which educates us for this.

I have read that crash test ratings will be stuck to the windshields of all car models (and their variants) in the future, showing their overall rating, adult protection rating & child protection rating. This might come into effect once the BNVSAP (Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program) comes into effect.

Last edited by RavenAvi : 3rd January 2018 at 12:02.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 12:02   #7
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

Hyundai for some reason gives their hatches variant names (Dlite, Era, Magna, Sportz, Asta) but their Sedans / SUVs variant letters only (S, SX etc).
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Old 3rd January 2018, 12:19   #8
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RavenAvi View Post
Most car models sold in India have or used to have 3 variants each, and they were clearly demarcated:
As expected, a treasure trove of information. Is there any conscious effort from the manufacturers to differentiate the naming of variants from others? Is there any regulatory push towards naming the features like ABS/4x4/AWD etc?
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Old 3rd January 2018, 12:41   #9
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

I feel from a buyer point of view it kind of makes sense not to display the variant. In our society, there is already a class-factor in play (based on the vehicle you drive) and this can add into that.
For example, someone buy a 3-series with a Prestige name fixed on the boot s/he can be the one who care about the prestige of the BMW but cannot afford the luxury of the Luxury variant, or sportiness of the Sport variant
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Old 3rd January 2018, 12:52   #10
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

^^^
Agree to this. There is no need to display the variant badge on the cars. It is something that the buyer needs to know since he uses that to choose the variant he wants.

On Ford cars, it is only the Titanium version that gets a badge.

I don't think there are badges stuck on cars in other countries saying what variant they are. Correct me if I am wrong.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 13:10   #11
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

The Nexa line up is a good example of the same. No badges. I wonder what keeps MSIL from removing badges from non Nexa cars!
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Old 3rd January 2018, 13:19   #12
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

Quote:
Originally Posted by salilpawar1 View Post
In Maruti, "i" stood for Power Steering equipped variants. However, for most other OEMs, "i" stands for Petrol (fuel injected variants).
Actually the "i" variants first appeared on the Esteem and Zen when they got MPFi engines. At the same time the Zen got power steering and that's why a lot of people thought "i" indicated power steering. The Esteem LX, VX and AX all had power steering and carb engines. The Wagon R AX had power steering and MPFi. The Alto power steering variant was initially called Alto Spin.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 13:43   #13
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

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Originally Posted by tharian View Post
I don't think there are badges stuck on cars in other countries saying what variant they are. Correct me if I am wrong.
There are hardly any variant badges stuck on cars here in Finland (and most of EU, I guess). There is a very good reason for that - customers are allowed to add many options to the cars. So, in most cases, it is possible to buy a lower variant and equip it with some of the features from higher variant. Some features are options even on the top variant. In effect, the variant name only helps to group a set of features together and put a price to it.

Of course, the engine variant badge may be displayed on some cars. There is an option for most cars to have all badges (except manufacturer logo) removed from the factory itself.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 14:21   #14
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post

Thank god they all agree on calling ABS as ABS only, and 4x4 as 4x4 .
Mercedes send their regards, may the 4Matic be with you !
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Old 3rd January 2018, 14:24   #15
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Default Re: How do manufacturers choose variant names & badges?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vitalstatistiks View Post
Mercedes send their regards, may the 4Matic be with you !


And Quattro on Audi cars as well. It may not be obvious, but for enthusiasts it's like a piece of cake.
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