Toyota plans to sell its new Spade minivan only in Japan, but that hasn’t stopped North American automotive writers from deploring the name—a racial slur since the Reconstruction era. According to The Truth About Cars, Toyota claims that “Spade” is a portmanteau of “space” and “wide” and also the strongest suit in a deck of cards. It’s going to be difficult for native Japanese speakers to pronounce: one of my language-maven Twitter followers says it will sound something like “su pa edo.”
For more on controversial “spade” branding, see my 2006 post about Jay-Z’s endorsement of Ace of Spades Champagne.
(Via this tweet by @nameflash.)
A tiny new electric car developed by MIT’s Media Lab has an unusual name: Hiriko. The name looks like it could be Japanese, but in fact it’s the Basque word for “urban.”
Artist’s rendering of Hiriko cars in front of Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. From Pacific Standard.
It’s a clever naming strategy for a unique car. Linguists consider Basque to be a language isolate: the only language in its family. As far as I know, this is the first time the Basque lexicon has been tapped for a car name.
According to Pacific Standard magazine, the Hiriko measures 100 inches long but folds for parking down to 60 inches. It will be sold only in fleets as a complement to city transit systems. In prototype, it was called the CityCar.
Korean carmaker Kia is introducing a new sedan for the 2013 model year called Quoris. Autoblog sniffs:
Kia says Quoris is “derived from the English words ‘core’ and ‘quality,’” but something was clearly lost in translation here, as Quoris is not only difficult to pronounce, it is utterly meaningless. Yes, we know it follows in a long line of such car names, but we doubt this is going to be seen as one of the good ones.
Oh, come on now. “Quoris” is only slightly more difficult to pronounce than “quorum” and “chorus.” As for meaningless, can you honestly say that Quoris is worse than Tiguan? Than Yaris? Than Kia’s very own, very peculiar cee’d?