Volkswagen Chooses An Interesting Name for Its New Chinese Brand

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
volkswagen chooses an interesting name for its new chinese brand

China’s all about electric vehicles and clean, green everything, or so the [s]tankies[/s] granola types claim, and automakers from Detroit to Germany can’t wait to get their hands on a piece of that market. In Volkswagen’s case, China’s thirst for EVs spawned a brand new brand.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with language, the name of VW’s EV-focused brand could mean something very bad, depending on who reads it.


A joint venture between VW and Chinese partner JAC, the SOL brand came about after China rejected the use of the Seat brand name in its market, Car News China reports. The German automaker then asked if “Xiyate” (Seat in Chinese) was okay. Apparently, it was not.

As the report shows, the first SOL-branded vehicle is a small, four-door crossover festooned with blue accents — a not-so subtle hint at the vehicle’s electric powerplant. It’s also not a Volkswagen in any sense; rather, it’s a rebadged JAC model. This particular SOL supposedly generates 114 horsepower and attains a top speed of 130 km/h (roughly 80 mph).

But back to that name, which appears in all caps. Sol, as many know, is Spanish for “sun.” Given that Seat is a Spanish brand, the inspiration for the name seems obvious. A sun rises, much like this brand, and it also generates electricity, which this car uses. The sun is a happy thing that makes plants grow. Sol is also a brand of Mexican beer and the name of a famous French Canadian clown. However, if you’re hip to the lingo these days, SOL is the acronym for “Shit Outta Luck.”

This author is reminded of past naming goofs, such as the Latin American-market Chevrolet Nova and the Canadian-market Buick LaCrosse. In the former case, “no va” translates into “doesn’t go,” though the story gained prominence through an urban legend, not a real-world PR crisis. GM was apparently aware of the coincidence and didn’t care. It wasn’t okay with selling the first-generation LaCrosse in Canada, however, as the model’s name means “masturbation” in Quebecois slang. The Buick Allure debuted in Canada instead. (As of the current generation, the LaCrosse name has returned to Buick’s full-sizer in the Great White North.)

Whether or not VW or JAC brass was aware of this connection is unknown, though it’s possible they were and felt it just wasn’t a big deal. Volkswagen aims to build 40 electric models in China, spurred by the investment of $12 billion over seven years. Many of these models will have their roots in borrowed or dedicated Chinese architecture. Others, however, will borrow the MEB platform destined for the U.S. in the form of the I.D., I.D. Crozz, I.D. Buzz, and I.D. Vizzion.

Speaking of poor naming choices…

[Image: Volkswagen]

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3 of 31 comments
  • El scotto Will this die a dignified and somber death? Sadly I predict a massive collision between greed, venality, and stupidity to occur. Huge Additional Dealer Markups (ADM)? Of course. Flippers will pay the ADM. Those paying the flippers over the ADM will smugly confirm "they know what they've got". The last owner not realizing that in 20 years their target "Last V-8 Camaro" audience will be between 70 and Dead.Mid-engine Corvette? Just get a Porsche or a Lotus and be done with it. Whatever LS they put in the Camaro might be seen in Silverados which will be sold at a higher profit.Hemi-powered Challengers and Chargers are dead. Well, OK after 18, 484 special editions. Hemi-powered Rams? Not too many buy a second one.Ford will double down on stupidity by raising MSRPs on every Mustang and Ford dealers will ask serious money for a non-serious car. Once Mustangs get expensive enough people will drive performance Japanese and German iron and like it. Three truly sad and ignoble deaths for cars once coveted by the jeans jacket, domestic beer, and Aerosmith t-shirts set.
  • CoastieLenn So the Camaro is getting the axe, the Challenger is belly up, the Charger is also fading out of existence. Maaaaan Michigan better have a game plan on how to inject some soul back into the American carscape. The Mustang and Corvette can't do it on their own. Dark times we're living in, bro's. How long do you think it'll be before the US starts to backpedal on our EV mandates now that the EU has rolled back their ICE bans with synthetic fuel usage?
  • Duke Woolworth We have old school Chevrolet Bolts, only feasible to charge at home because they are so slow. Travel? Fly or rent luxury.
  • Styles I had a PHEV, and used to charge at home on a standard 3-pin plug (240v is standard here in NZ). As my vehicle is a company car I could claim the expense. Now we are between houses and living at the in-laws, and I'm driving a BEV, I'm charging either at work (we have a wall-box, and I'm the only one with an EV), or occasionally at Chargenet stations, again, paid by my employer.
  • Dwford 100% charge at home.