Vauxhall flexes its muscles
September 14, 2014
Opel and Vauxhall’s harmonious relationship was tested recently by the naming of their new minicar. Vauxhall fought against using a name that just wouldn’t work in Britain -- and won.
Germany-based Opel picked the name Karl for the brand’s budget minicar, which debuts next year. Opel and Vauxhall have shared vehicle names since 1995, but the German-sounding, German-spelled Karl caused Vauxhall executives to protest.
That is why Karl is out and Viva is in as the car’s name in Britain. The Viva name originally was used on a series of strong-selling subcompact Vauxhall sedans last offered in 1979. Even if few people here remember the original Viva, it still works as a stand-alone name, a Vauxhall spokesman told me.
This is the second time in recent years that the name of a car has caused some tension between Opel and Vauxhall.
When the sibling General Motors brands launched their premium minicar it was given the first name of Opel’s founder, Adam. This raised some eyebrows in the UK because, of course, Vauxhall's founder was someone else entirely -- a man called Alexander Wilson.CONTINUE AT AUTONEWS.COMKarl with a K is just too German for Vauxhall, especially now it is starting to reposition the brand as being much more British, emphasizing its long history of car production here, which continues with the Astra in Ellesmere Port, northeast England, and the Vivaro van in Luton, just north of London.
Vauxhall also has a powerful voice within GM because the UK is the No. 1 global sales market for Opel/Vauxhall.