As we all know, almost all of the luxury car market has converged on the alphanumeric naming system. Ascending numbers for the size of the car, ascending numbers with an 'X' thrown in for SUVs (letter prefix optional). Even the old stalwarts of this scheme, Mercedes and BMW, have turned it into something that might as well convey the same meaning as Q50. Originally the premise of this post was to ask what would come after the inevitable death of the alphanumerocracy, but now I'm not 100% sure.
On the one hand, it seems naïve to think that the world will stay this way forever, with the Germans dominating the luxury car market and everybody trying to hit their benchmarks. On the other hand, regardless of who the market leader is, there is a strong logic behind the alphanumeric systems. Even if it's not descriptive like the classic BMW nameplates, I can definitely see an advantage to being able to retain the same name for a car no matter where you sell it. Whether the buyer is in Africa, Asia, or America they know that A8 is bigger than A4. This streamlines marketing efforts, builds a stronger global brand, and eliminates the work of having to come up with different names to appeal to different cultures. So for those reasons, I'm not really sure how I feel.
Maybe in 50 years cars will be autonomous gadgets, more like cellphones than what we'd recognize today. When they're completely reduced to this role as appliance and fashion accessory, perhaps we'll see a resurgence in actual names like "Aphrodite" or something. Maybe when the vast majority of the market is electric, manufacturers will use the nameplate to advertise the range. "The new Cadillac 2000 [miles]". Or maybe they'll be called S550s until they're powered with antimatter reactors.
I really have no idea. Any other guesses?