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Mercedes-Benz announced this week that it plans on introducing up to 30 new models by 2020. Eleven of these vehicles won't just be new — they'll be all-new.

To prepare for this deluge of newness, Mercedes is changing its naming strategy for the first time in more than 20 years.

Mercedes will keep the current scheme, which features a letter prefix to designate the model series — such as "S" or "CLS" — followed by a number to designate its place in hierarchy like "550" or "300."

However, it will change the letter designation for its SUVs and its SLK sports car.

Confused yet? Hang in there.

Under the new naming convention, the Stuttgart-based automaker will begin the name of all of its SUVs with the letter G — in honor of Mercedes' iconic G-Class. As a result, the current M-Class will become the GLE. The GLK compact SUV will becomes the GLC, while the full-size GL will will become the GLS.

In addition, the SLK sports car will now be known as the SLC.

Changing the name of any car is a risky proposition for an automaker. For Mercedes, it's especially dangerous because the company has spent so much time, money, and effort to ingrain the identities of its hot-selling SUVs into the public's consciousness.

For some carmakers, changing the way vehicles are named has succeeded.

In the mid-1990s, Audi switched its naming structure from a numerical system to its current letter/number setup and it's worked out great.

But Acura's move away from names like "Legend" and "Integra" to "RLX" and "ILX "has been less of a home run.

However, as more and more automakers move towards a letter/number style naming scheme as opposed to actual names, a problem will emerge: there will be too many convoluted permutations of numbers and letters for consumers to know what's going on.

Periodic reorganization helps. The most recent example is Infiniti's move to designate all of its cars with the letter "Q" while its SUV's begin with "QX."

So far, Infiniti's decision has been a mixed bag. Although its new naming convention is streamlined, some customers have been left scratching their head. Mercedes is taking the same risk.

However, Mercedes has experience on this front. It made a drastic naming change in 1993, but we're now used to it.

This current change is far less significant. In the short term, it will annoy some, but there shouldn't be any long term ill-effects.
 

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The little chart makes things pretty clear. This isn't the most clear naming scheme but it isn't as confusing as some brands.
 

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It'll take some time to get used to for those that were familiar with the old naming system, much more simplified now.

Easily remembering model names is a win for them.
 

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Most people who go in to buy a Mercedes-Benz aren't familiar with the naming structure and every vehicle around. I think the naming structure is more for enthusiasts, journalists and industry insiders than customers.
 

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Thanks for posting this chart -- I was getting lost with all of these new model names lately. And don't get me started on Infiniti...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Most people who go in to buy a Mercedes-Benz aren't familiar with the naming structure and every vehicle around. I think the naming structure is more for enthusiasts, journalists and industry insiders than customers.
But you have to factor in that MB buyers don't just want a car, they want something special, otherwise they'd buy a corolla and call it a day.

IMO they're doing this for brand awareness, with all the SUV's starting with "GL_" it's that much easier to remember the entire line up as you see them on the road and question what model it is.
 

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But you have to factor in that MB buyers don't just want a car, they want something special, otherwise they'd buy a corolla and call it a day.

IMO they're doing this for brand awareness, with all the SUV's starting with "GL_" it's that much easier to remember the entire line up as you see them on the road and question what model it is.
I've heard it's for China. They really didn't understand the random assortment of letters before. The new nomenclature provides more structure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've heard it's for China. They really didn't understand the random assortment of letters before. The new nomenclature provides more structure.
Where did you hear that from?

Didn't think it would be an issue in that situation since its still a bunch of letters, just a linear patten of letter for a line up around a specific set of vehicles.
 

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I've heard it's for China. They really didn't understand the random assortment of letters before. The new nomenclature provides more structure.
I'm just not convinced that the new naming structure is really much more organized than the old naming scheme. I also think that since all the luxury brands are moving towards this type of naming structure, different brands will have their vehicle names confused with each other.
 

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It's better structured and linear to me, if you know one model you know the naming structure for all that relates to it, e.x. all SUV's
 
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