One of the things we noticed in France was the popularity of the Dacia range of vehicles. I guess it’s not too surprising given that Renault bought out the former Romanian state car brand a few years ago. The cars are famously affordable and very much aimed at the budget end of the market. Fair enough and by all accounts they’re doing good business in France, Bulgaria, Turkey and all sorts of places. The vehicles look a little like they’re designed by British Leyland’s Allegro stylists but I’ve nothing against them. Except the names they’ve come up with for the range. Now very old readers will know that I’ve written on the subject of car naming in the far-off past; it’s something of a thing of mine. I especially enjoy really crap vehicle names and the marketing men at Dacia (who must have been recruited from Bucharest’s top hardware and ironmongers store) have come up with some lulus.
Take the SUV in the range; it’s called, rather oddly, the Duster. Don’t ask me why. It might mean something rugged and tough in Timisoara but over here it’s a cleaning cloth. If you were at a party with a load of strangers and someone asked you what car you drove, be honest, would you proudly announce a Duster and give them a polite yet smug little smile? You wouldn’t; you’d come over all modest and say ‘oh it’s one of those little 4×4 jobbies – marvellous for taking the girls to their point-to-point meetings you know’. If they’d called it the Dirt Buster I could kind of believe it but Duster, sheez.
Next up its dynamic little car called the Logan promoted with the snappy marketing line ‘be logical, be Logan’. Did they pick it because it was the only word they could think of to fit in the strapline? I look at the word I think of a berry or a Scottish clan name. Maybe an airport but a car? It’s about as logical as the next moniker. The MUV equivalent is the quite baffling Lodgy. How on earth did they come up that? It sounds like a hybrid of lorry and podgy. Just bizarre.
Finally the Dacia leisure activity vehicle (whatever that means) where you’d expect a name which conveys fun and liveliness and they christened it the Dokker. Eh? Now there may be some East European sardonic wit going on here. They may have done their consumer research in the UK and asked panellists to nominate the people who most/least inspired a sense of spirit, get-up-and-go, joie-de-vivre and high energy. And they went with the latter to see if we’d get the joke. But I just can’t believe they’ve done any pre-research about their names to see how they’d translate, especially in this country.
Blimey I could come up a naming strategy for them if they asked me. If they weren’t sure the fall-back method is to go with a number sequence like BMW or Peugeot, or a combination of letters and numbers like Mercedes and to some extent Citroen, or to pick wild animal names (Mustang, Kuga, Skorpion etc) or names that sound all Mediterranean (Mokka, Uno, Punto, Mondeo etc). To some extent Dacia followed this route with the name of Sandero for its popular hatchback. But why didn’t they follow it through across the range? Bonkers.
If they were going to make their names a source of humour (albeit unintended I’m sure) I’d have liked them to have taken the task to heart and come up with some decent rhyming slang with the company brand so that the energetic SUV could be called the Dog Snatcher, the beach-side leisure vehicle the Oyster Catcher, the attractive hatchback the Eye Catcher, and the tough and rugged MUV the M Thatcher. Now that’s a naming strategy.