News of the 0 percent financing incentive Ford is using on the Escape Hybrid in a couple of markets came at an interesting time.
Earlier in the day, I gave my son, Michael, who is a high school senior, a lift to school in a Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV.
Mike won't be an engineer, but he understands the concept of a gasoline-electric hybrid and has ridden in several that I've evaluated.
He liked the vehicle but not the name.
Mariner? You mean like water? What's the connection?
I explained that Mercury execs like names that begin with "M."
No, Mike said. If Ford Motor Co. wants to sell vehicles it ought to give them Japanese names.
Oh my gosh, could it be that simple?
I mentally thumbed through four decades of Japanese car and truck names. If you throw away Toyopet and eliminate all the alphanumeric silliness, the analysis is clear: Japanese carmakers don't use Japanese names.
Think about some of the great names from Toyota: Prius. Corolla. Camry. Tundra. Celica. Toyota names sound Western. They're either real English words or made-up names that sound vaguely European.
And how about Datsun/Nissan? Armada. Pathfinder. Altima. Fairlady. Yes, the Fairlady name really was used on roadsters sold in North America in the mid-1960s.
The next step was to figure out what Japanese names might work for Ford.
As a starter, why not translate current vehicle names into Japanese?
Unfortunately, the online English-to-Japanese dictionary I used couldn't find a Japanese word for mariner. Apparently Mike is right about the water thing being a nonstarter, even in Japanese.
But I had better luck with the Escape. The translator spit out half a dozen choices. Without knowing the context, Tonsou sounded best. Think of it: The Ford Tonsou Hybrid.
Now say it out loud. Not bad, eh?
You know, Mike may be on to something.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]