Audi Drops Arbitrary Numbers & Adds Rhombuses in New Badge Practices

Audi AG is moving to disassociate from the practice of using arbitrary numbers in model nomenclature says a recent report in AutoExpress. At the same time, it’s introduced some new badging practices along with its cleaner four rings design on its latest model offerings. It’s a welcome move in some ways and a sign of the times in others, and we have some ideas on how they should proceed.

First, let’s dig into the back story. Assigning numbers like “55” was a practice adopted circa 2017 in order to infer power levels. Traditionally, car manufacturers (and especially car German brands) had developed some sort of typically badging lexicon used to denote power levels. For years at Audi this was simply a badge of displacement “2.8”, “1.8T”, “4.2” and so on. That all worked well enough in the beginning, but turbocharged engines got more potent, big engines got smaller and then came electrics. That a 2.5 TFSI could boast more power than a 4.2 was confusing enough, but as Audi threw in superchargers (badged T oddly), then hybrid and electric drives it all got even more confusing. Simple numbers such as “55” probably made sense to someone somewhere… probably in marketing where it may be assumed good, better and best is about all you need to tell the consumer.

If that sounds like a bit of a jab, it’s because it is. The numbers meant nothing and were also confusing, which is probably why Audi is moving to deemphasize them. The badges began to go away with the introduction of the Q8 e-tron, though for now are still listed in pricing and press materials.

AutoCar spoke to Florian Hauser, Audi’s Head of Sales and Product Marketing for Battery Electric Vehicles, and asked him about the change during the launch of the Q6. “When we talk about simplicity,” he told AutoExpress, “we don’t just talk about the options and the configuration process, we are really thinking of getting the leanest engine program for the Q6 which still refers to our customer demands.

“And if it’s a performance model with quattro, then it’s ‘SQ6.’ If you think about what’s coming next, when we talk about rear-wheel drive it’s just a Q6. For smaller and bigger batteries we could think about a suffix behind the ‘6’ – for example ‘Performance.’ And so we don’t need the numbers anymore, so we won’t show them.”

That’s logical, but we’d argue too streamlined for something as technical as an automobile. Right now, we find ourselves at a significant moment in time. The schema of electric cars is being defined. On one hand, there’s the trend for such simplification in appliances like an iPhone with multiple levels but few visible differences. On the other hand, for influential and engaged owners of these products, there’s a pride in knowing just which one you offer. I know I own an iPhone 13 Pro and I speak to it when I talk phones or phone cameras with someone else interested in the subject.

Further on the subject of EVs, all manufacturers are struggling with the notion of engaging enthusiasts. Enthusiasts struggle with the notion of engaging with EVs. While it’s likely the driving dynamics and performance elements of car ownership attractive to enthusiasts will figure itself out, there are other elements like naming and thus badging that need to be conveyed in a logical and thoughtful manner.

Perhaps then it’s worth making the suggestion for Audi. Consider this sort of naming convention to be a lexicon of communication for understanding your product on a more intricate level. Give monikers and identifiers to your power sources be they engines (2.5 TFSI) or electric motors. With electrics, choose something that has an actual value, like the size of a component of the motor and maybe identify generations in deeper dive materials. Terms like “B9”, “MLB”, “DAZA”, etc. mean something to savvy engaged owners who are proud to tell more people about their Audi experience. There’s depth to these terms because they are rooted in technology, and progressive use of technology is the underlying theme at Audi.