Car Brand Names Go Small

Once, not so very long ago, you only bought a small car if you couldn’t afford a large one. “Bigger,” as the saying goes, “was ever so much better.” But recent trends have pushed public opinion unmistakably and forcefully in the opposite direction.1 Computers chips have moved from micrometers to nanometers2 in scale, and small, mini, micro, nano, and tiny®3 houses are something to brag about in certain circles. As economist E. F. Schumacher proclaimed in the title of his 1973 book, Small Is Beautiful.

Automobile manufacturers have been shoved along by this trend as well, not only producing smaller cars, but even changing the names of time honored models, hoping to capture a larger share of the interest (and the money) of the car buying public. Earlier this month, Ford announced that it would reintroduce the Mercury Grand Marquis, last built in 2011, as the Mercury Petit Marquis. Not to be left behind, Pontiac stated that the Grand Am, already shortened and narrowed when the last models rolled off the lot in 2005, would return as the Pontiac Chétif Am. And Jeep, hoping to supplement flagging sales of the Grand Cherokee, has begun to advertise a “new model,” the Jeep Très Petit Cherokee. And rumor has it that Nissan has a top secret plan in the works to supplement the Maxima with a smaller super-luxury model to be called the Minima.


“Horch 670 V12 1932 6021cc.” Photo by Charles01, Public Domain.
“Tiny Car (445904906),” by Christophe Richard, CC BY-SA 2.0

  1. How a trend, which has only parasitic existence based on the actions of significant numbers of persons, can push and opinion, which is also secondary in its state of being, we have not yet determined. However, we thought this sentence sounded good.
  2. “Nanometer” is an acronym for “Not Any Name Of Measurement Even Though Eventually Required
  3. Tiny®, a registered trademark of Tiny House, Ltd., is defined as “a house so small that your friends can’t fit inside to see whether your Tiny® House is really as unbelievably ‘amazing’ as you’ve said.”

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