Tesla's upcoming BMW 3-series rival, long thought to be badged the Model E, won't use that model name. That's because Ford also applied to trademark the name, and the two were involved in a legal dispute.
Ford eventually won, leaving Tesla with a new car which will now apparently be called Model III, and the Blue Oval with an interesting moniker that is in keeping with its Model A and T cars from its past. Perhaps it might introduce Model E itself on a future all-electric model.
The dispute raises the question of how much value we put into car names. Manufacturers run customers clinics and focus groups to determine the correct name for their latest product, and the name can make or break a model in the dealership.
It has to be easy to say (anyone else struggle with Pagani Huayra or Mazda Furai?), easy to remember and convey the image of the car.
Some models do this very well. Who could think that the Land Rover Defender is anything other than an all-terrain SUV, or that the Mitsubishi Space Wagon isn't a spacious way to move the family?