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Car Name Origins

July 15, 2016

What’s a Kia? Or a Fiat? Here are the stories of how your car got its name.
Car Name Origins

Alfa Romero

The company began in Italy in 1910 as Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobil, or ALFA. Nicola Romeo bought the company in 1915 and added his name.

Kia

In Korean, the name means “rising from Asia.”

Toyota

Originally called Toyoda, after founder Sakichi Toyoda, the company held a contest to come up with a better name. The winner: Toyota.

Aaston Martin

Lionel Martin started the company in England, near Aston Hill. 

Hum-Vee

It’s an approximate pronuncitation of HMMWV—an acronym for “High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle.”

Hyundai

“Modern” in Korean.

Volvo

The Latin word for “I roll” is volvo. But that’s not a reference to the company’s cars: Volvo’s first product was a ball bearing.

SAAB

The Swedish company started in 1937 as Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, or SAAB for short.

Daihatsu

Was a cheap, compact Daihatsu your first car? In Japanese, dai means “first”; hatsu means “engine.”

Audi

In 1899 August Horch started a car company—he called it Horch (“hark” in German)—but left it in 1909 to start another car company, which he called Audi, Latin for “hark.” 

Fiat

It’s an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobil Torino (“Italian Factory of Cars of Turin”).

Rolls Royce

Engineer Frederick Royce built his first car, the Royce, in 1904. In 1906 he partnered with auto dealer Charles Rolls—Royce made the cars, and Rolls was the exclusive sales agent. In 1998 the company was sold to Volkswagen.

Volkswagen

German for “peoples’ car.”
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