More Memorable Names: Volvo to Ditch Current Model Naming System

Cars have carried model names since almost the first vehicle came out. From “Model T” to “Mustang” and “Cherokee,” model names give the first impression of a vehicle. Some monikers are fun, like “Bronco,” while other automakers go with letters and numbers. Those alphanumeric names are usually not quite as memorable, but they get the point across. For example, Mazda’s CX series goes sequentially in odd numbers as the vehicles grow in size. Volvo uses alphanumeric naming, too, but that will soon be a thing of the past.

The current Volvo naming system is alphanumeric

A white Volvo V90 luxury car is parked at the Volvo Car Corporation headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo is changing the way it names its models.
Volvo V90 | Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Volvo uses an alphanumeric system to name its models. The Swedish automaker uses “XC” for its SUVs, with the XC90 one of the more popular. It’s also the SUV upon which Volvo’s next generation of EVs will be built. 

The company has used an alphanumeric naming model for almost every vehicle it has produced, with only a few exceptions. It has used “C” for coupes and hatchbacks, and the alphanumeric naming model has been in place since 1995.

But Volvo is changing that with its new EVs.

Volvo’s CEO wants the change

Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said he wants to leave the alphanumeric naming model behind with the brand’s new electric vehicles. The Drive reported that he wants actual names for the new EV models, the way parents would name their children. He’s obviously excited and proud of what his company is doing next.

It was an “interesting and creative” discussion, according to Samuelsson, to try to come up with names befitting the Volvo’s next generation.

In an interview with AutoCar, he said the new EVs will get more emotional names. This is partly because Volvo’s new EVs are a new product of new technology and engineering. Samuelsson wants to mark the occasion as a fresh beginning by giving the new vehicles actual names. He likened the change to naming a newborn child. Volvo is proud of its next generation of EVs, which in turn translates to consumer excitement.

The automaker hasn’t finalized any names yet, Samuelsson said, but expect an announcement when the company announces its XC90 EV successor. Volvo is working on their EVs, so that should be soon.

Volvo’s sales numbers came back for the first half of 2021, and they’re strong. They show growth over the last two years, which is good for the automaker, and announcing new EVs would certainly help bolster that growth. 

The company has plenty to celebrate, and Samuelsson wants to mark it by using names rather than numbers on future vehicles. Car enthusiasts have often given their vehicles names, so it makes sense an automaker would also want to do the same.

Other car brands could use name makeovers

Some other brands might need to take a page from Volvo’s playbook. For instance, Cadillac has been using alphanumeric naming. The luxury automaker introduced impressive performance vehicles for the 2022 model year, but using alphanumeric naming doesn’t quite have the excitement that an actual name might. 

In fact, Cadillac tried to bring back names with monikers like “Lyriq” and “Celestiq,” but The Drive called the attempt “botched.” They were called “nerdy” names, with none of the luxury and performance on which Cadillac has built a reputation. Let’s hope Volvo takes note of Cadillac’s misstep. 

Mazda is another carmaker that could use a name makeover. Its alphanumeric naming is simple, so it’s not as confusing as other automakers’ systems, but it lacks fun or imagination. 

Time will tell if Volvo chooses names that carry some weight. We look forward to seeing what they are.

Related: The 2021 Volvo CX40 Recharge Might Confuse You When You Try to Start It