A grey 2024 Chevy Blazer parked in front of a modern home.

The Power of a Name: How EV Names Affect the Consumer Experience

The automotive industry has its own language, relying on an extensive dictionary of abbreviations like ICE, EVs, EUVs, and PHEVs, to the pure chaos of model names that combine letters with numbers and can easily make a potential buyer’s head spin. With the rising popularity of electric vehicles, that chaos has reached new heights. Automakers are still not sure how to differentiate their electric models from their gas-powered siblings. Is the EV or PHEV acronym enough, or do EVs deserve a new and entirely separate identity? As it turns out, that’s a loaded question.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), there isn’t a hard and fast rule. Shopping for the Chevy Blazer for sale reveals that Chevrolet is committed to adding the EV designation to its already well-known models. The automaker sets its naming standard with the Blazer and Blazer EV, Equinox and Equinox EV, and Silverado and Silverado EV. Other automakers, however, take a different approach, with Kia debuting its EV6, Hyundai creating its IONIQ lineup of EVs, Volkswagen introducing the ID fleet, and BMW adding a mere “i” to its electric Series models. But what’s the right approach?

Arguing Both Sides: The Value of Perspective

As a writer in the automotive industry, I often look at models as a potential buyer or enthusiast, using my personal experiences, doing excessive research, and gathering the facts to hopefully remain objective. In this sense, I know the importance of perspective, especially when it comes to the rising popularity of the EV segment. The automotive industry is in a significant transition, an undeniable fact as automakers usher us into an all-electric future with EVs that promise more capability than imaginable and a transformative experience behind the wheel. We see that firsthand because it’s everywhere we look.

Even with this in mind, I can’t help but wonder, “What’s in a name?” Is naming EVs all that complicated? I drove a Civic Hybrid years ago when they first came out, and I didn’t think twice about the name. Yet I felt some odd sense of pride and accomplishment when I purchased my dream SUV (before the Bronco returned), a Jeep Wrangler sitting on beefy mud tires. Yes, I realize those choices are on two vastly different ends of the spectrum. What is it about the Wrangler name that gave me a feeling of pride where the Civic didn’t?

A dark blue Ford Mustang Mach-E driving on a city street at night.

What’s in a Name?

What’s really in a vehicle’s name? The answer is everything. What is the Chevy lineup without the Silverado, Blazer, Tahoe, and Suburban? The Silverado has been the cornerstone of Chevrolet’s truck fleet since the late 1990s, sharing the spotlight with long-running SUVs like the Suburban, best-selling models like the Tahoe, and newly reintroduced icons like the Blazer. The same can be said for Ford with the F-150, Bronco, and Mustang. What’s the Blue Oval without its iconic speed demon, legendary adventurer, or best-selling workhorse?

The ties between these model names and automakers shed light on why naming EVs can be dichotomous, even debate-inducing. The Ford Mustang Mach-E proves as much, with die-hard Mustang fans in an uproar, arguing the Mach-E is a far cry from its namesake because of its electric heartbeat and SUV styling, capability be damned. My spouse, a well-versed mechanic in the transportation industry, shares a similar opinion, passionately arguing the Mach-E is not even in the same realm as the Mustang. With the Mustang so ingrained in Ford’s legacy, are those against the Mach-E’s naming wrong for arguing it’s sacrilegious to use the beloved name on an electric SUV? If that’s the case, can we say the same for Chevrolet?

Building on a Legacy

Why wouldn’t automakers build on the legacies they’ve already established? It’s a savvy marketing tactic because automakers aren’t necessarily reinventing the wheel with some of their EVs, at least not Chevrolet. Instead, they’re building on what they’ve already proven is a solid model. Consider how many new model names we would see if we held other industry-wide innovations, distinctions, and advancements to the same standard. In that case, every hybrid would need a new name, as would every model with a distinguishing feature, like a continuously variable transmission. It seems a little excessive, doesn’t it?

The Chevy Blazer and Blazer EV are nearly identical. The same can be said for the Equinox and Equinox EV. These models share similar design features and almost every element aside from their powertrains. Is this difference enough to rename the model and risk watering down Chevrolet’s expansive lineup of SUVs? Is it enough for the automaker to spend millions of dollars to redesign the model and build a new marketing strategy to hopefully establish its presence in the industry? With siblings like the Blazer and Blazer EV, it doesn’t make sense.

A black 2024 Chevy Blazer for sale driving through a residential neighborhood.

Extending a Legacy

While Chevrolet’s approach to naming its EVs is simple and practical, Ford shows another school of thought by taking the middle ground. Instead of an all-new name for its electric vehicles, Ford relies on the power of its reputation and the legacies it’s already established by extending those names. We see this in the Mustang Mach-E and the F-150 Lightning.

Ford’s combined approach is risky, as we see from the backlash from the Mustang Mach-E. However, the risk was well worth the reward because the automaker capitalized on the Mustang name to market the Mach-E. The Mustang name got people talking and piqued their interest enough to spur a debate. While some passionately protested the approach, others were drawn to the electric powerhouse with the legendary name. Either way, the name was enough to draw attention and sell more cars, which is a win in Ford’s playbook.

The Call for a New Name: When EVs Deserve the Distinction

Are automakers reinventing the wheel with their electric vehicles? It depends on the model. For Chevrolet, the automaker is building on its best-selling models by offering an electric option and then differentiating that option by adding a simple “EV” to the name. There’s no confusion about whether or not the Blazer has an internal combustion engine or an electric motor because the name tells us as much. Either way, it’s a Blazer at its core.

But when does an electric vehicle deserve a distinct name? The Mustang Mach-E may have similar body lines as the Mustang, but it’s an electric SUV that can’t be mistaken for Ford’s legendary speed demon, earning it the right to have a separate name. Models like the Kia EV6 and Hyundai’s IONIQ lineup are entirely new and reflect each automaker’s commitment to electrifying their lineups and pursuing a future with zero emissions. As new models, the EV6 and IONIQ fleet are well worthy of names that differentiate them from their gas-powered siblings.

The Future of EV Names

The waters are still muddy when it comes to naming EVs because the market is still relatively new, and we’re in this transition period between gas-powered, hybrid, and electric vehicles. Customers can confidently shop and avoid confusion by realizing that every automaker is different, but the goal is the same: to instill confidence among consumers to sell cars.

As automakers push to fulfill their promises to introduce all-electric lineups, we’ll see an influx of new models over the next few years. Some may be spinoffs of their gas-powered siblings, while others will be entirely new and easily distinguished. Either way, automakers will continue to find their footing in the industry, steadily helping us get comfortable with our new normal behind the wheel of these revolutionary all-electric powerhouses with an amalgamation of names.