Opinion: The road is paved with good intentions

Volkswagen announced this month that its newest subcompact SUV would be named after Taos, a first in the town's history. Town marketing director Karina Armijo said the new vehicle could spur new interest and investment in Taos.

Volkswagen announced recently that the new Volkswagen SUV is going to be called the Volkswagen Taos.

The VW Taos will lean to the left, be averse to 5G signals and unhappy when Texans get inside of it.

Kidding! The Volkswagen Taos will actually be typical of SUVs, in that it will do everything a sedan does, but in a more expensive and less efficient way. It will compensate for that with the illusion of utility, visions of mountain excursions that will never be taken and the feeling of safety that comes with looking down upon one's fellow travelers.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the naming. On one hand, one of the largest corporations in the world has co-opted the name of our quaint little town, but on the other hand at least people who don't live here will now get how to pronounce Taos (phone salesperson: "I'm sorry, did you say Dallas?" "No, Taos! Taos!").

It was inevitable, really. The South Korean car company Hyundai started it with the Santa Fe, which has been around long enough now that it doesn't seem weird anymore. Kia snagged Sedona and Telluride for two of their SUVs years ago. I suspect Aspen and Vail have world-class lawyers and are being given a wide berth.

To be fair it could have been worse. VW makes some pretty good cars. If a Golf Type R turned up in my driveway I wouldn't turn it down. And it must be tough on carmakers coming up with new names. Most of the good ones are animal names, and they're taken. I can see them in the office: "VW ... Squirrel?" "No Hans, that's terrible."

And given that the word Tao, from which Taos comes, means "path" or "road" in some interpretations, I suppose it kinda makes sense. Also one of the most famous car manuals ever published was written by VW mechanic John Muir, who had a garage in Taos for years.

Anyway, we're about to become a little more famous, Taos! I don't know what the benefits will be. There's a chance that in a year or so, just before the car comes out, we might get a little attention from Volkswagen. There will be immaculately clean SUVs parked strategically in scenic areas, with German crews of photographers and engineers milling about in an orderly fashion.

If any of our restaurants are still open by then we might get a little business. Some of our buildings might show up in VW marketing materials. Don't worry. It's not cultural appropriation by corporate Europe. It's an honor, bestowed only upon the most interesting and available towns in the world.

Stuart O'Donohue lives in El Prado.

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