Is the Maruti Wagon R EV the Maruti Invicto or Plazeria?

Sure you’ve come across new names this month linked to Maruti Suzuki. Don’t be led to believe that these are the company’s upcoming launches.

Car manufacturers apply for trademarks all the time to protect their global nameplates from getting hijacked (Maruti Suzuki couldn’t use ‘Splash’ and settled for Ritz as a rival from the West had secured it) or to make provision for the future. You understand why Ford couldn’t call its SUV Everest!

Tata Motors had to scrap the name ‘Zica’ the last minute due to the Zika virus epidemic.

Take the case of Tata Motors which spent a large sum of money in promoting the Tata Zica hatchback (short for ‘Zippy Car’) in 2016, only for the Zika virus to strike it down right before the commercial launch, leaving the brand with limited time for an alternative. While that was a case of an unforeseen event blocking a name from becoming a brand, marketing teams pick several names and employ surveys or clinics to shortlist. While Mahindra loves alphanumeric branding that ends with an ‘o’, Skoda uses ‘K’ as the starting letter for its crossover range and would like to have a few options on the table when choosing given the limitations.

Here’s another interesting story. Kia Motors India ran a public survey asking respondents to choose from Tusker, Trazor, Trailster and the SP-Z in 2018, but threw a curveball calling its first car the Seltos last year. So when it comes to names, the manufacturer is best placed when there are many different options.

Suzuki Splash rear
Maruti couldn’t get to use the ‘Splash’ brand in India due to another company registering it earlier.

The names Invicto, Excursio or Plazeria trademarked by Maruti Suzuki may or may not be used, but it sure makes for interesting speculation.

We haven’t independently verified, but Maruti Suzuki has trademarked Espaco, Libertas, Solido, Invicto, Excursio and Plazeria for use on vehicles. While the Excursio and Espaco make a reference to space, and therefore suitable for an multi purpose vehicle, Solido and Libertas give us the feel of a robust SUV for the weekend getaway with the family. The dictionary meaning for ‘Invict’ is ‘invincible’ that would feel at home pasted on the back of an off-roader like the Jimny, more so as Tata Motors may not be fine with Maruti using the ‘Jimny Sierra’ brand it employs globally.

So is the Plazeria the name in the running for the Maruti Wagon R EV? If you ask us, Maruti would do well to leverage the household Wagon R brand to popularize its electric car. Though it didn’t translate to sales, Mahindra spent a lot of years and advertising dollars on the KUV100 and felt it was ideal to leverage on the brand equity rather than start from scratch for its entry-level EV. Maruti may be thinking on these lines when it comes to christening the Wagon R EV particularly because the car won’t look very different from what is already running.

Kia Seltos and Carnival
Kia considered the names Tusker, Trazor, Trailster and the SP-Z for the Seltos.

Maruti Suzuki is aiming to bring out its first EV next year targeting the fleet operator first. In September 2018, at the MOVE summit in New Delhi, Maruti Suzuki had shown the prototype of the Wagon R EV based on the Japanese specification car. 50 prototype electric vehicles were assembled in India and began testing to log data.

Maruti then began testing the electric hatchback in its ‘Indian’ clothes. Judging by spy pictures, the Wagon R EV would come with a split headlamp cluster with larger circular headlights, high mounted LED daytime running lights and a revised grille. It would run on 175/65 R15 wheels.

Media reports claim the car’s battery pack can be charged up to 80% in an hour using a DC fast charger and that a real world range of around 150 km would be possible on a single charge. Whatever the specifications, the entry of Maruti in the EV market could be the tipping point.