The Truth Behind Automotive Brands Reusing Old Names for New Models

The 2022 Ford Bronco, 2022 GMC Hummer, and 2022 Jeep Wagoneer are new SUVs that are – well, not exactly new. Sure, they’re in their first year of production, but that’s only if you don’t count the generations of Broncos, Hummers, and Wagoneers that came before them. Each of these SUVs lived before, and it’s only now that their names are being resurrected. So why are we seeing the names Bronco, Hummer, and Wagoneer making a comeback, and on SUVs that bear little resemblance to the original SUVs?

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport on rocks
2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Ford

The original Ford Bronco was discontinued in 1996

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According to Car and Driver, the Ford Bronco was discontinued on June 12, 1996 after thirty years of production. There was a group of Ford employees so devastated by the Bronco’s demise that they were committed to bringing it back. These people were called the Bronco Underground.

And now they have. The Ford Bronco is back this year, as is the Ford Lightning and the Ford Maverick. The Ford Mustang is now not only the sports car everyone knows and loves, but also an electric crossover SUV known as the Mustang Mach-e. These vehicles don’t look like their predecessors, but the names carry on. What gives? Car and Driver says that car manufacturers are bringing back these oh-so-popular names because they sell. Slap the name Lightning on a new Ford truck (and it helps that it’s electric), and a certain nostalgia will help sell that truck better than any marketing plan could.

The GMC Hummer is making a comeback

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The original Hummer died for the very same reason it lived so well – it was enormous. Like, really, really big. And with that size came a hugely negative environmental impact, as well as one on the individual wallets of those who bought those behemoths. Yet now the Hummer is coming back, this time as two different vehicles; the GMC Hummer electric pickup truck and the GMC Hummer electric SUV. The reincarnated Hummers couldn’t be more different from their ancestor.

According to Car and Driver, the original Hummer’s reputation did give GMC pause before they put out two new Hummers. Car and Driver writes, “Unlike Ford with the Bronco or Jeep and the Wagoneer, GM is trying to change people’s perceptions associated with a name, and those perceptions are part of why it failed the first time.”

The Jeep Wagoneer is having a much-celebrated revival

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The Jeep Wagoneer has come back after being retired in 1991. It was officially and finally retired in all of its forms in 1994, but it’s back now. This time it’s a massive three-row SUV that has a luxury counterpart, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer. The Wagoneer name evokes such a sentimental attachment that it’s no wonder that Jeep would want to bring it back – or at least put the Wagoneer name on another vehicle. Even though the new Wagoneer won’t say Jeep anywhere on its exterior, its grille leaves no doubt that the new SUV is a Jeep. And it’s an expensive one, too. The Wagoneer starts at $68,000 and the Grand Wagoneer starts at about $87,000.

So why are new cars using old names? It’s because it’s profitable. The fact that these new models will have names associated with perhaps a childhood car or the epitome of a rugged SUV will only serve to drive sales. Combine that with marketing plans that involve strategically positioning those new names and SUVs, and we’re sure to see an awful lot of Broncos, Hummers, and Wagoneers on the roads real soon.

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