The model year of a car is a tad more tricky. In its simplest definition, the model year of a vehicle refers to the year the car is officially launched and sales begin.
For instance, let's take the third-generation AH30 Toyota Alphard which first debuted in Japan in January 2015 and went on sale soon after - therefore it's a 2015 Toyota Alphard.
For many years, referring to a car by its model year has been a common practice in the US market, as opposed to other parts of the world, which preferred referencing a car by its chassis or generation code.
As an example, with BMWs, it is common to see chassis code references such as E39, F30, and G20.
However, in more recent times, given changes in customer behaviour, and the advent of Google search terms, more and more manufacturers in other markets, including Malaysia, are adopting model year descriptions to denote current or upcoming models in their range.
With that said, it can be confusing when the vehicle's model year doesn't match the current calendar year we're in.
A good example of this is the 2022 Proton Iriz and Persona. Why call it a 2022 model when it's already been launched in 2021?
The simple answer is marketing. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to marketing taglines a manufacturer can use to entice buyers.
Referring to the model as the 2022 Persona further reinforces fact that it's the very latest offering from Proton.
Another reason for the tagline is because the older pre-facelift (MC1) models of both the Iriz and Persona were sold in the earlier months of 2021, therefore, "2022 Iriz" as a Google search term also guarantees a surefire hit on the new model.
It's important to note that a car's manufacture and registration year is definitive, whereas the model year can be influenced by a manufacturer's marketing strategy and customer behaviour.
The same is true even if the model year is set two or even three years in the future.
Besides hinting at when the model will be launched, it's also meant to create a buzz of buyer interest before it hits showrooms.
One could argue, that despite its age, Proton's numerous tech updates and marketing slogans have made the Iriz and Persona contemporary and exciting once again – well, perhaps until, we get the 2022 Perodua Myvi, or was that 2023?
Arvind can't remember a time when he didn't wheel around a HotWheels car. This love evolved into an interest in Tamiya and RC cars and finally the real deal 1:1 scale stuff. Passion finally lead to formal training in Mechanical Engineering. Instead of the bigger picture, he obsesses with the final drive ratio and spring rates of cars and spends the weekends wondering why a Perodua Myvi is so fast.