Volvo’s CEO Wants to Ditch Alphanumeric Names

Samuelsson said, “We’re going to give them a name as you give a newborn child a name.”

byJames Gilboy|
Volvo News photo

Cars and trucks today have increasingly boring, meaningless names that often read like attempts at oneupmanship. CT4-V, QX80, and X6 sDrive40i all sound like the names of a billionaire's offspring and convey almost no meaning. It's a problem that, like Cadillac, Volvo hopes to circumvent by giving upcoming products real nameplates, or as company CEO Håkan Samuelsson puts it, "a name, like a child."

Samuelsson told Autocar the pioneering example of the brand's "emotional" new name scheme would debut on its successor to the XC90. The executive emphasized that while the vehicle's name isn't yet settled, the repeal of the brand's alphanumeric name restrictions has resulted in "a very interesting and creative" discussion.

2021 Volvo Concept Recharge, Volvo

The first Volvo to have a word for a name since the Amazon's discontinuation in 1970—Cross Country and Polestar models notwithstanding—will reportedly arrive in 2022, and be styled like the Concept Recharge. In the name of safety, it'll feature a LiDAR-aided automated driving function, which sounds like it'll be roughly equivalent to an SAE Level 3 automated system. Its name, Samuelsson explained, signifies the dawn of a new era for Volvo, one of extensive electrification.

"We're talking about a totally new architecture, a new generation of born-electric, all-electric cars with central computing," Samuelsson continued. "It's good and clear to mark that this is a new beginning, and that's why we’re not going to have numbers and letters, an engineering type of name. We're going to give them a name as you give a newborn child a name."

2021 Volvo Concept Recharge, Volvo

With new names and new driving technologies could come things more unfamiliar than corporatized Swedish nouns, too. Samuelsson hinted that cars in this new era for Volvo could come in unusual shapes—some of them hypothetically resembling cars like Volvo's fin-equipped 2018 concept, the 360c.

"Then there will be more cars to follow, and we should start thinking new body shapes: it's not just sedans, wagons and SUVs," Samuelsson concluded. "Electrification will also change the shape of cars. They need to be more aerodynamic, and we will surprise people a bit there in the future."

2021 Volvo Concept Recharge, Volvo

Got a tip or question for the author? You can reach them here: