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How Volkswagens Got Their Names

Automakers have long sought inspirations on how to name their vehicles. For example, Lamborghini has been known to name its vehicles after bulls made famous in the bullfighting scene. Other’s have named their vehicles after geographic locations such as the Chevrolet Corsica, the GMC Canyon, or the Kia Telluride. Volkswagen has also found its inspiration from different things around the world or in our history. For example, the Beetle is pretty straight forward. The car is and shaped like a bug’s shell. But, the automaker also has other inspirations for naming its vehicles.

Our friends at Auto Evolution have done a little digging to find the origins of many of the Volkswagen lineup names. Interestingly, a lot of the names are related to winds and Greek mythology. Only one of the names seems to be a made-up word. Even that is a combination of two exiting words versus something out of thin air. Below is a listing of their findings.

The Volkswagen Arteon

A red 2021 Volkswagen Arteon driving down a street
The 2021 Volkswagen Arteon in action | Photo via Volkswagen

Artem is the Latin word for art. It is the root word in Arteon. The Arteon is intended to be an artistic expression of beauty. 

The Volkswagen Atlas

Atlas was a Greek mythological figure. He was a Titan that warred against Zeus. His punishment was to hold up the celestial heavens for eternity. Okay,… So, Atlas was kind of a big deal. Hence the connection to the VW name on their biggest SUV.

The Volkwagen Corrado 

The Corrado is not around anymore. But, it also receives its name from a language derivation. The root word for Corrado is correr. In Spanish, the work correr means to run or sprint. This made it the appropriate moniker for a small car whose heartbeat was a VR6.

The Volkswagen Eos

The name Eos also harkens back to Greek mythology. Eos was the daughter of Titans. She was in charge of bringing the new dawn. The Eos was a convertible. A convertible permits the sun to shine in, hence the link. 

The Jetta

The Jetta is a sedan that can take families anywhere. In German, the name Jetta translates to the jet stream. The jet stream can connect you with anywhere in the world. 

The Golf

The VW Golf is a small hatchback that can go anywhere. The name has nothing to do with the sport. Instead, the Golf is the German form for gulf, as in gulf stream. The gulf stream is part of the winds that take people around the world. 

The Passat

The Passat name also comes from the German word for trade winds. So, it’s a different play on the same idea as the Golf’s name. Incidentally, another wind-related name belonged to Plymouth, the Breeze.

The VW Tiguan

2019 Volkswagen Tiguan
2019 Volkswagen Tiguan | Volkswagen

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Tiguan has a combination of words for the derivation of the name. The first is tiger. The second word is iguana. This seems to be the first made up name in the Volkswagen lineup.

The Toureg

Toureg is the name for a nomadic people. As nomads, they travel. The VW Toureg is meant for consumers to enjoy their travels. 

There you have it. This is the origin of many of the Volkswagen nameplates. As you can see, mythology and natural phenomena are a common resource for the company’s naming practices. Comically, General Motors already used Typhoon and Cyclone for their vehicles. So, don’t expect that to pop up on any new Volkswagens.