What's in a Name? VW Dealers Want to Know

T-I-G-U-A-N. Word from Volkswagen AG headquarters in Germany, says that's the name of the so-called Baby Touareg a smaller, Golf-based version of the auto maker's cross/utility vehicle scheduled for production in 2008. What do U.S. dealers think of the designation? They are, uh, speechless. T-I-G? U-A-N? says Long Nguyen, sales manager of Volkswagen Pasadena, in Pasadena, CA. It sounds like Pronounced

T-I-G-U-A-N.

Word from Volkswagen AG headquarters in Germany, says that's the name of the so-called Baby Touareg — a smaller, Golf-based version of the auto maker's cross/utility vehicle — scheduled for production in 2008.

What do U.S. dealers think of the designation? They are, uh, speechless.

“T-I-G? U-A-N?…Wow,” says Long Nguyen, sales manager of Volkswagen Pasadena, in Pasadena, CA. “It sounds like ‘iguana.’”

Pronounced TIG-won, the name is derived from the words “tiger” and “iguana.”

K.C. Chang, fleet manager at Volkswagen Pasadena, one of the nation's largest VW dealerships, is disbelieving when Ward's tells him the name.

“No. Say that…T-I-G-U-A-N?…No,” Chang says.

The moniker was chosen in voting by more than 350,000 readers of Germany's AutoBild group of motoring magazines in 10 countries.

Of the five names on the ballot, it is the “clear winner,” VW says.

Chang wishes VW had approached his customers.

“We're one of the largest markets in the world,” he says of California. “You've got to name it something that people can pronounce right away and remember right away…What are the other names?”

Nanuk. Namib. Rockton and Samun.

“Samun? I guess they picked the best out of the five,” Chang says.

At other dealerships contacted by Ward's, the name news usually is greeted by a short pause. Then another. Then resignation.

“Tiguan…OK…Huh…Tiguan,” says Mitch Noyes, a salesman at Roger Jobs Volkswagen, Bellingham, WA. “Holy smokes…All right. I've got to think that, to some marketing guru somewhere, it sounded like a good idea.”

Might it hurt sales?

“I can't imagine that it's going to help,” Noyes says. “But I don't imagine that it's going to hinder things, either. It's not a name that conjures up anything in particular.”

Dealers note that VW encountered consumer confusion when it introduced the Touareg in 2003. Its name means, roughly, “free folk” and refers to a nomadic tribe that wanders the Sahara.

“It's one of those things you can use to break the ice,” says Kevin Russell, senior sales representative at DeLon Volkswagen in Salem, OR. “You would say, ‘It's TOUR-egg. Like an egg on tour. Ha ha ha!’ Then you get 'em from there.”

Still, the name Tiguan gnaws away at him. “Say that one more time?…the Tiguan. Hmm…Is that the only choice?”

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