HomeCar CultureWhen Badges Change: Car Rebranding Surprises and Snafus

When Badges Change: Car Rebranding Surprises and Snafus

What's your favorite rebadged vehicle?


A sudden brand change can lead to mass confusion, public outcry, and countless internet memes. Take Twitter, for example, which just announced a shocking identity makeover, transforming from its iconic bird logo to an unexpected “X.” The digital world is all aflutter, with confused users expressing their bewilderment in tweets of 280 characters or less. Some are speculating if this is an unlikely collaboration with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, while others are humorously suggesting that the platform is going through a midlife crisis.

The automobile industry is no stranger to the practice of “rebadging,” which is essentially slapping a new name and emblem onto an existing model and calling it a new car. Sometimes these rebranding efforts are a hit, and sometimes…well, let’s just say they’re memorable for other reasons. Do you have a favorite (or hated) rebadging we missed? Share it in the comments.

The Chrysler Sebring Becomes the Chrysler 200 (2011)

A 2012 Chrysler 200 Super S at the North American International Auto Show (sarahlarson, via Wikimedia Commons)

In a bid to wash away the Sebring’s reputation of uninspiring design and performance, Chrysler decided to rebrand the midsize sedan as the 200. The 2011 Super Bowl ad featuring Eminem certainly made an impression as the second most Googled term the day after it aired, but the reality was a little less glamorous. Although the 200 saw some improvements in design and quality, the car was essentially a heavily updated Sebring. The 200 was discontinued in 2017, ending its brief and somewhat uncomfortable life.

The Ford Five Hundred Becomes the Ford Taurus (2008)

The last year, 2008 Ford Five Hundred (image via Car and Driver)

When Ford decided to replace the popular Taurus with the Five Hundred, the public response was lukewarm at best. Recognizing the mistake, Ford quickly rebadged the Five Hundred as the Taurus after only a few years. The company’s quick pivot back to the original name suggests they learned a valuable lesson: don’t mess with a beloved brand!

The Infiniti Q and QX Renaming Fiasco (2014)

2014 Infiniti Q50 (image via MotorTrend)

Infiniti, the luxury vehicle division of Japanese automaker Nissan, decided to rename all its models to begin with Q after believing European customers associated “Q” with higher performance and styling. For instance, the Infiniti G became the Infiniti Q50. However, the new naming system confused customers, and even years after the renaming, people still had difficulty figuring out which model was which. In a competitive luxury market, this rebranding did not go as smoothly as Infiniti had hoped.

The Mitsubishi Starion or… the Stallion? (1982)

1982 Mitsubishi Starion Turbo EX (image by Rutger van der Maar via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s hard to know if this was a case of miscommunication or on purpose. Mitsubishi named its new sports car the “Starion,” but many speculated it was supposed to be “Stallion,” a far more fitting name for a high-performance car. Mitsubishi themselves said the name was a contraction of “Star of Arion,” referring to Hercules’ horse in mythology. Whether it was a mistake or not, the Starion never truly took off and the model was discontinued in 1989. The name continues to be a point of contention and confusion, however the Starion is considered an unsung hero among sports car enthusiasts.



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