Ford Motor Co. said it will name the Verve world-car concept the Fiesta worldwide. The boo-birds in the U.S. who think this is a bad idea will start singing today, or thiss Wednesday, I’m sure.
The Fiesta was sold in the U.S. only between 1978 and 1980. But it has been a mainstay in Europe for more than three decades. Ford rightly believes that it is time to stop splitting names and vehicles across continents. That’s why the same car (with slight exterior modifications) with the same name will be sold in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Previously, Ford was doing crazy stuff like naming one car the Fusion in Europe and an entirely different car the Fusion in the U.S. It was as if the people who made those calls (and you know who you are even if you are retired now)had never been on the Internet.
Naming is tricky business. Ford released an inferior design of a car in the Five Hundred a few years ago, and then renamed it the Taurus (the former Freestyle also was renamed Taurus X)last year. The renaming hasn’t paid off despite giving the sedan and crossover a much better engine. The cars should have been named Taurus out of the gate. But, as the saying goes, you only get to launch once. Re-launches never work.
GM struggled with the naming of the Malibu. I think it was a bad idea to keep the old name on a car that was vastly superior to the old models and had a reputation of being a bad rental car. It didn’t keep the car from getting North American Car of the Year. But its an up-hill battle to get people to take a “Malibu” as seriously as they take an Accord, Camry or Altima.
The Fiesta name could work out just fine. The media reception to the Verve has been great. It’s not comparable to renaming the Five Hundred Taurus, which hasn’t delivered sales, because the Taurus and Taurus X are still ungainly looking vehicles that are out of step with 2008 design sensibilities.
If the Fiesta drives as good as it looks, it should stand up just fine to the Yaris, Fit and Versa. I mean…really…the Fit. Have you heard the one about the guy who went up the dealer and said…”I think I’ll have a Fit.” The dealer says…”Calm down. Maybe you would be happier if we partied at the Fiesta next door.”