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Allyson Witherspoon might be the world’s greatest aunt.That’s because Witherspoon, Nissan’s vice president of marketing, was able to name the Japanese automaker’s all-new electric SUV after Ariya, her 7-year-old niece.Unveiled last week, the Ariya is set to become one of the world’s first all-electric SUVs, made to compete in the growing electric auto market, including Tesla’s Model Y crossover. A prototype of the vehicle was shown at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show last October. With a full battery, the Ariya can drive for about 300 miles and will retail for roughly $40,000.“We were struggling a little bit with the name initially; we went back and started from scratch,” said Witherspoon, declining to name some of the other top contenders.Even after compiling more than 100 names submitted from across the company globally, slowly but surely, Ariya started inching its way to the top of the list as it cleared hurdles like trademarks and global recognition tests.According to Witherspoon, her niece’s name means “noble” and “lioness,” a fitting title for a vehicle she called a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”Nissan’s nepotistic choice isn’t the first time a vehicle’s been named after a family member. In the late ’50s, Ford named what it had hoped to be an “automobile tailored to the desires of the American people” after Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, who had died in 1943. It was a flop, and the company ended production of the vehicle in 1960.(Witherspoon wasn’t familiar with the infamous Edsel, though presumably she hopes the Ariya will avoid a similar fate.)Although Nissan won’t be launching a full campaign for the Ariya until 2021, the brand has already invested in digital and social media advertising, targeted to users interested in electrical vehicles.Nissan already has a history in the category: The Nissan Leaf, unveiled in 2010, was the first mass-market electric vehicle sold globally, becoming the world’s top-selling electric car until being overtaken by Tesla’s Model 3 earlier this year.“We have a long, rich history with electric vehicles, and we want to reinforce that credibility,” Witherspoon said.And until she’s old enough to drive, the real Ariya has a poster of the car that bears her name, soon to be sold all around the world.



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