POSTCARD FROM JAKARTA
I talked to a vehicle manufacturer who does not know what he makes.
Is it a truck? Is it a minivan? A sport-utility? It is a good product, but what should he call it?
There is enough confusion in this industry. Do we need to perpetuate more by having so many different and frequently contradictory names for vehicle classes around the world?
This is not one of those United States-vs.-the rest-of-the-world arguments, either. Here, Toyota's best-selling Kijang is called a commercial vehicle. In Europe, that would mean a truck. What is meant in Indonesia is what I - but not my editor - would call an MPV. In Detroit, they call it a minivan, which in Europe means something else again.
I was confused by a news report talking about a Japanese company stopping truck production. Assuming they meant pickups, because Japanese companies usually use American English, I asked for more information. They meant commercial vehicles. Help! English is the de facto standard language of the world's vehicle industry. But what are we trying to say? Hands up from anyone who would welcome a single set of terms.