Why do different countries get different car brands?


You’ll see Tiidas around here which I see in the USA is the Versa, what is the point in that?

Also are Asian cars from big name makers actually smaller than their USA counterparts? Most of the cars here(Carib) are imported from Asia directly since there is no local market, and they are well cramped as hell. I am often uncomfotable in the backseat and I’m skinny and 5 foot 9, sometimes my head is touching the roof!

Auto lotteries

Manufacturers sell into markets they believe will be profitable. They may rebrand certain models in certain markets because they believe it will help sales.

Car makers must believe that using different names in different markets for the same cars will help them sell more cars. For example, when Toyota wanted to sell a luxury brand in the U.S., it created the Lexus brand because it thought that Americans wouldn’t accept an expensive luxury car with the same Toyota brand used to sell the Tercel.

Cars sold in America are often larger than their foreign counterparts. For example, the Honda Accord in the U.S. is larger than the Accord sold in Japan or Europe. Some smaller cars that Honda sells in Japan, like the “kei” cars, are deemed to small to be marketable in the U.S., so they are never sold here at all. America also gets some larger cars (or crossovers, or CUVs) that are sold by foreign brands but only in certain markets like North American market. The old Honda CrossTour is one example. So you might be seeing the smaller global versions of cars that are also sold in larger variants in the U.S. or you might be seeing smaller cars not sold in the U.S. at all.

Or, “Manufacturers brand models in certain markets because they believe it will help sales.” Even in small markets, consumer testing may show better response to one name over another. The name used in other big markets might have a meaning or connotation in local lingo that would curb sales. And sometimes the model/product name is already trademarked or owned by someone else.

The classic example (which is a legend and *not *true) is that Chevy couldn’t sell the Nova in Mexico and Latin America because the name in Spanish was “no go.” That’s the gist of why a model name might be changed for another market - makers don’t want negative, silly or sexual connotations, even vague ones.

Marketing. It’s just different badging/branding. The manufacturers only make a limited number of actual cars, but they can tart them up with a new brand/badge and slightly different trim.

Sometimes it’s because they’re taking advantage of historical manufacturer brands in each country- for example, the Buick Regal (US) is the Opel Insignia (Ger), Vauxhall Insignia (UK), and the Holden Insignia (Aus).

Other times, it’s just to try and capture a bit more of the market by selling a functionally identical vehicle as a different model - the old Ford Rangers and Mazda B2000 trucks, or the Dodge Dakota/Mitsubishi Raider are good examples.

The word “Tiida” is quite awkward in American English. Assuming that was the first name that Nissan assigned to this car, they did the right thing by coming up with a different name for the U.S. market.

I see it was also called the Trazo and the Latio in other parts of the world. Presumably they come up with a name that sounds good and isn’t problematic for each of the various regions.

There is a whole industry round brand naming - it is difficult to come up with a name that makes sense, is pronounceable, isn’t rude, and of course, is unique in every country you wish to export to.

I heard once that KODAK was named for this very reason.

It’s one of the reasons many car manufacturers use Letter-Number combinations instead of names. They generally work in all markets.

An example that really is true is the Mitsubishi Pajero. The folks at Mitsubishi didn’t realize that in Spanish, pajero is an insult, equivalent to the British term “wanker.” After someone clued them in, the car was rebranded as the “Montero” in the US, Latin America, and Spain (and India, for some odd reason). It’s still called the Pajero elsewhere, exept in Britain, where they call it the Shogun. [Dunno why they needed yet a third name for the UK.]

Except for the Pontiac 6000LE - as Car and Driver pointed out, “Hey, mister, is your car really called a Goolie?”

One of the most popular brands of gas in Mexico is Pemex’s Nova. I thought that was a hilarious nail in the story a few years back.

And really, it works either way - “no go” or “unbelievably large fireball.” Sure, fill 'er up, Hilario.

No, the Pajero was the cheap version of the Shogun. I had two 2nd-hand * in my rather brief excursion into car ownership.

  • Both named ‘Baby’.

Thought that the master spoke on the whole Chevy Nova legend, but I guessI’m thinking of snopes.com.

There was also the Nissan **240Z **which was/is called the **Fairlady **in Japan. It was also going to be called ‘Fairlady’ here in the US until Yutaka Katayama (the president of Nissan US) recognized the effeminate inappropriateness of the name for an American sports car and changed it. The 240Z is the forerunner of the whole Nissan Z-series (260Z, 280Z, 300Z etc.) Although Katayama’s radical ideas saw him fall out of favor with his conservative Japanese bosses he is considered a legend in the sports car industry. Although portrayed by an actor he is meant to be the old, smiling & laughing Japanese man at the end of those great Nissan/Van Halen commercials*!*

The MR-2 also supposedly was shortened to the MR in francophone countries because it sounded like the word for “shitty.”

Sometimes there is a problem.

Ladies and Gentlemen the Buick La Crosse.

Thanks, but I wonder why they don’t just put the extra effort into creating a brand appropriate worldwide, make sure it isn’t a word with negative connotation in any language etc.

Other companies have one name worldwide, say a Samsung Galaxy etc.

Yeah, but history is littered with companies that tried that, then expanded into a market with a language they previously hadn’t interfaced with.
Like the major oil company Esso. Never heard of them? Well, it turns out that Esso has some unfortunate meanings in the developing world (sources disagree on exactly where), so the spent millions of dollars developing a name that meant nothing. They’re called Exxon now.

Others have referenced how Japanese car makers felt that the US market would be less receptive to a single company making a full spectrum of products. While Toyota might be a fine brand for anything from an economy car to a limousine in Japan, Americans were used to choosing a Chevy or a Buick, a Plymouth or a Chrysler, a Ford or a Mercury, each time aware they were buying basically the same car with a different option package. So Toyota created Lexus, and Honda created Acura.
Yes, a company that had been comfortable in the US market selling everything from lawnmowers and portable generators through motorcycles and up to family cars decided that a new brand was needed for luxury and high-end-sports cars.

But a few decades before, another Japanese company created a brand for North America (and the UK) for a very different reason. They were worried that their attempt to enter those markets would fail, in fact fail spectacularly. Fail badly enough that it would damage their brand internationally. They felt that India wasn’t going to buy cars that had failed to sell in the US, even if they’d already been buying those cars.
And so Nissan created the brand Datsun so that if it failed (kinda when it failed, in their estimation), it wouldn’t hurt the ability to sell things under the Nissan name elsewhere.

This is why Toyota had to rename the MR2 in France

Sometimes language is an issue. My Kuga (Escape to you) has a label that says Kuga Titanium (in English), but also a label in Chinese that I can’t read. It might actually transliterate to “Kuga,” but then again it might not.

Esso (for Standard Oil) was originally Standard Oil of NJ and couldn’t use their name in many parts of the US due to the name being owned by other parts of Standard Oil after the breakup of the company in 1911. They rebranded themselves Exxon for those reasons, mainly for use within the US. They still use Esso throughout most of the world.

What unfortunate meanings have you seen for Esso?