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Tesla continuing trend of unoriginal names with Model III just feels right

As far as names go, Tesla doesn’t delve too deeply into the depths of creativity. Somehow it seems to work quite well, and the naming of their most important car yet follows the pattern.

Today the British automotive news outlet Auto Express reported that Elon Musk revealed in an exclusive interview that the company’s fabled Generation III sedan will be named...drumroll, please...Model III.

Is anyone surprised by this? Sure, we offered idle speculation on the potential name of the third-generation Tesla vehicle back when it was discovered that Ford would block Tesla’s path to Model E – thereby denying Elon Musk and Tesla of achieving S, E, and X together in a model lineup for the first time in automotive history. (It is worth noting that Tesla had already trademarked Model Y, just in case).

Since Model E was eliminated as an option, though, we feel rather foolish for not seeing this coming. Of course Tesla would name their paradigm-altering mass-market 200-mile range, $35,000 all-electric sedan Model III; it fits like a tailored suit.

Model III aptly describes itself as the dawn of Tesla’s third generation of vehicles, just as Roadster, Model S, and Model X suitably designated themselves as the company’s first roadster, sedan, and crossover vehicle.

And even though Musk and Tesla couldn’t get Model E, the name they chose offers the next best thing: “three” rhymes with “E,” as you probably realized a few paragraphs ago, and even though Tesla can’t spell “S-E-X” there is no small consolation. As Musk excitedly pointed out to Auto Express, “...we’ll have three bars to represent [Model III] and it’ll be S III X!”

Also of note, it is very likely that Tesla received input from its Chinese employees and potential customers. In China, the number 3 is written as three horizontal lines (like the sought-after letter E without the vertical line) and according to is a popular number because, when spoken, sounds like “sheng” which means “growth.”

Appropriate indeed, considering Tesla’s epic plans for growth as well as its aggressive expansion into China.

Any way you look at it, Tesla made a great choice with the naming of Model III. No, it’s not particularly exciting in itself...but then, Avenger, Crossfire, and Nitro were pretty exciting names, and look how those cars turned out.

Model III allows Tesla to reach its goal of selling “S-E-X,” whether it is written with the Chinese letter E or as “S-3-X” after the typical American fashion of turning things backwards or upside-down when it suits us. And like all the greatest car companies, it plans to let the car do the talking – why give the BMW M5 or the Porsche 911 or the Mercedes AMG GT more inspiring names when the name is just that...merely a name? It is the car itself and the badge on its grille that should be inspiring, not the name on the back.


Aaron Turpen    July 18, 2014 - 4:50PM

I miss the old days when cars had pronounceable names and the longer the name, the more luxurious and exclusive the car. Now it's all just semi-arbitrary letters and numbers jumbled together. Lame.