Tata Renaming Car — Zica Hatchback To Be Rechristened, As It Sounds An Awful Lot Like The Zika Virus

Tata Motors is changing the name of its upcoming “Zica” hatchback, because the name sounds awfully similar to the Zika virus.

Indian auto giant Tata Motors has decided to change the name of its latest model, the “Zica hatchback.” The company’s hasty decision to rename the car is justifiable because the name sounds exactly like the mosquito-borne virus that is being considered as a global epidemic. The company is rightfully concerned that the car’s name may be subjected to unfavorable comparisons to the Zika virus. The Zica hatchback was initially christened as Tata Kite. However, the company chose to alter the name.

Apparently, apart from humans, the rapidly-spreading Zika virus has an unlikely victim — Tata Motors Ltd., reported Channel News Asia. The company confirmed that it had decided to rename its soon-to-be-launched hatchback Zica. The name, which is short for “Zippy Car,” was dropped after the Zika virus was declared an international health emergency, reported the Wall Street Journal. Issuing an official statement confirming the rename, Tata Motors said the following.

“Empathizing with the hardships being caused by the recent ‘Zika’ virus outbreak across many countries, Tata Motors, as a socially responsible company, has decided to re-brand the car.”

Incidentally, the company is well aware that it isn’t possible to rechristen the car at such a short notice. According to CNN, the hatchback will debut this week at a car show in New Delhi with its original name. However, the company has confirmed that another name for the car is being decided.

“In view of the recent developments, we are now evaluating the situation. While it carries the ‘Zica’ label for the duration of the event, the new name will be announced after a few weeks, ensuring all necessary consumer/branding and regulatory aspects are addressed, and the launch will take place thereafter. At this moment, there is no plan to change the name.”

What this essentially means is that Tata has firmly decided that they don’t want any association with a name that sounds like the Zika virus. However, the company hasn’t zeroed in on a replacement yet. The Guardian reported that considering the growing attention and concern about the Zika virus, Tata Motors has been forced into the position, where it would suit the company to simply write off its previous branding. However, altering a branding at such a late stage may badly affect the sales of the car.

According to Tata Motors, their Zica model was supposed to evoke a sense of zippiness. The name of the car was a clever play on the words “Zippy” and “Car,” reported Auto Blog. Tata Motors, who also owns Jaguar Land Rover, had already invested a lot in publicizing and promoting the name. The company had stressed about the model’s stylishness and “peppy driving experience.” The car is clearly aimed at the youth and given its much-touted fuel economy, the company is hoping the car will do great in the Asian markets.

“Tata Motors is committed to doing what is right for its customers. The car, which has been designed for young people, has already received enthusiastic reviews from informed commentators, and the company is determined to place it in the market addressing all relevant needs of the target audience.”

Incidentally, Tata had chosen the name long before Zika virus had even reared its head, let alone posed a global threat. Though the company has already decided to rename the car following the outbreak of the homophonic Zika virus, many industry experts strongly believe the name of the vehicle and the timing of its unveiling could be affected by the recent spread of the Zika virus in several countries, reported You Don’t Know Football.

The World Health Organization has confirmed that Zika is “spreading explosively.” Within the next few months, the virus could infect as many as 4 million people in the Americas. Transmitted by the highly aggressive Aedes aegypti mosquito, the Zika virus has already spread to at least 24 countries. According to the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the illness causes fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis in adults. However, the virus can also lead to serious birth defects, like microcephaly, in pregnant women.

[Photo by Tata Motors]