Usually it’s car names themselves that are ripe for mockery. The Mazda Titan Dump, the Ford Probe, and the Nissan Friend-Me were all actual monikers rolled out with a straight face. And Fiat only took on its derisive nickname — Fix It Again, Tony — because of its products’ reputation for costly unreliability. But in July, when Fiat’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Peugeot, the French automaker it expects to merge with, announced their new corporation name-to-be — Stellantis — it went over like, say, an Edsel.
The name is derived from “stello,” Latin for “to brighten with stars.” Here’s the July 15 press release explanation, such as it is: “The name’s Latin origins pay tribute to the rich history of its founding companies while the evocation of astronomy captures the true spirit of optimism, energy, and renewal driving this industry-changing merger.”
Sure, sure. The announcement prompted the internet to take a brief break from toxic political discourse and cancel culture to rejoice in this comedic gift. “Do not take Stellantis if you are pregnant or might become pregnant,” wrote @Midnightdorifto. The tweeter behind @MotorTrend, alluding to the word’s similarity to the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis, urged: “Ask your doctor if Stellantis is right for you.” Other jabs were more practical. “If your company is named Stellantis and [you’re] not building star ships, you’re disappointing everyone,” tweeted @NoACSlater.
Corporate name changes often bemuse the internet. Alphabet, the name Google chose for its parent company in 2015, is usually ignored by all but the most straitlaced business journalists. In 1987, United Air Lines announced it would change its corporate name to Allegis, which none other than shareholder Donald J. Trump said sounded “like the next world-class disease.” The name was abandoned the following year. In the case of Stellantis, Chad Livengood, the Crain’s Detroit Business scribe, wondered derisively whether it was the brainchild of “the former executives of TRONC,” the name given in 2016 — and given up in 2018 — to Tribune Publishing Co.
Stellantis does have at least one high-profile pseudo-defender. Autoblog’s Greg Migliore’s praise in a blog post included the not-so-effusive note that it “could be worse.” It’s better, he notes, than “FCA-PSA or PSA-FCA.” And, perhaps most important: “Your Jeep will not say Stellantis on the fender.”