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What’s in a name, anyway? Cadillac forsakes its identity, adopts new naming scheme

What’s in a name? Apparently rather a lot, because along with changing nearly everything else he can get his hands on, Cadillac’s new chief Johan de Nysschen is bringing his own naming scheme with him. Thanks to the new South African head honcho, new Cadillacs will use the same kind of alphanumeric nomenclature that Nysschen oversaw at Infiniti and Audi.

Cadillac’s new naming scheme will use two prefixes CT for cars and XT for crossovers and SUVS. The first car using the new series of names, a sedan named the CT6, will be unveiled sometime next year. Cadillac’s Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus told Forbes the name change is to help clarify things for customers, who he said have been confused by Caddys current naming scheme.

Related: Cadillac names its new luxury flagship the CT6

If this looks familiar, it is no accident. Johan de Nysschen got his start at Audi and was working at a high level in the company when the company switched from its old naming scheme to its current A, S, Q, and R scheme. Which, to the particularly observant, looks a hell of a lot like CT and XT.

Nysschen’s fondness for this naming scheme extended to his time at Infiniti when he left the company awash in confusing conundrum of Qs and QXs. While that change may end up being for the better at Infiniti, in the short term, it has sewn a fair amount of chaos.

At least Ellinghaus was willing to admit that the idea was meant to evoke a comparison to the German brands: “So many other brands have done that sort of thing, across industries. It’s not rocket science. It doesn’t fit our immediate business needs, but this simple logic will help us build this brand and enhance recognition over the long term.”

Still, it is hard to square this with the assertions made my both Ellinghaus and Nysschen that Cadillac will focus on its American heritage rather than try to become a mirror image of the German brands. Were that the case, Cadillac could easily have turned to its repository of awesome names like de Ville, Seville, Eldorado, Fleetwood, and Calais. Or, for that matter, Cadillac could have used the awesome new name they came up with for its amazing concept car: Elmiraj.

While the move to copy success is understandable, it is also disappointing. As Cadillac undergoes a major rebranding it would be exciting to see it try something different, or at least seem a bit more proud of its identity.