It took Porsche a year and a half to name its first fully electric car.
The new 911 may be hogging all the spotlight after its recent debut at the LA Auto Show, but Porsche will soon be embarking on a new era with the upcoming launch of its first ever fully electric model in 2020. Previously known as the Mission E, the model was renamed as the Taycan back in June. In case you were wondering why Porsche chose this name, the automaker has now offered a detailed explanation.
Coming up with a name for a car that has no predecessor isn’t as easy as you may think. “Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a more exciting challenge,” said Kjell Gruner, director of marketing at Porsche. “Pure expression. Letters and a meaning that find their place in the history of Porsche and the history of the automobile.”
For Porsche, the challenge was to create an original name that conveys the unique characteristics of the car. The Boxster, for example, gained its name by combining the roadster style with its boxer engine. Being such a historically important car for the brand, Porsche decided not to use a number for the name like 911, 718, or 918.
“All aspects of the name determination process are covered: automobile-related, creative, technical, legal, and linguistic,” Michael Reichert, project manager for the Taycan naming project, explained. “A name for a car is ultimately an emotional decision—but one that should be based on facts and arguments. That requires a systematic approach and a lot of attention to detail,” Gruner added.
Since the electric sedan doesn’t require a conventional engine block, one of the car’s key characteristics is the low front section. This prompted Porsche to look at terms from hydro- and aerodynamics as a starting point for potential names. In total, the team created around six hundred ideas, which were narrowed down to a few favorites. These then had to be checked by pairs of native speakers representing twenty-three languages. Lawyers also had to check the names didn't violate any registered trademarks. This rigorous process took Porsche a year and a half before marketing experts presented their favorite names to the assembled board in the autumn of 2017 to make a final decision.
As we now know, Porsche decided to name its first EV the Taycan. According to Porsche, the name was chosen because it represents something “lively, impetuous, vigorous, light-footed on long stretches without tiring, and free-spirited” while reflecting both the source and the future of the brand. The name is derived from two Turkic words: “tay”, which means spirited young horse, and “can”, which stands for soul.