From the archives

VW in alphabet upset

Article image
How the company's logo might look in future, yesterday
How the company’s logo might look in future, yesterday

VW has been thrown into turmoil this week with news that its licence to use two consecutive letters of the alphabet has expired. Renewing the licence would cost millions, leaving the German firm with the choice of forking out or changing its popular abbreviated title.

“This is a familiar problem,” observed Leighton Buzzard, Doctor of Letters at St. Angreavsie College, Oxford. “Ford’s cash reserves were severely drained in 1970 after it bought the letters ‘RS’ for a sporty Escort. Fortunately, in 1973 they hit upon a way to make some of their money back by leasing the letters to Porsche.”

Sources in Wolfsburg are unlikely to find such a neat solution and some spies suggest that the firm may have to opt for the cheaper ‘WV’ combo. “This would make the company name Wagenvolks,” says one insider, “which means ‘car people’ in German. Actually, that’s quite nice. I don’t know why we didn’t think of that before. If we weren’t known as ‘people’s car’ in future it would certainly make the Phaeton less laughable.”

However, some commentators believe that, to avoid making their familiar badge look ‘top heavy’, the car giant will dig deep to retain the rights to its current abbreviation. No one knows how much these rights will cost but it may well top the £200 million Michael Jackson paid back in 1970 for the rights to both ‘ABC’ and ‘123’.

This story was originally published in February 2002