Tata stung by Zika virus
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New Tata city car to be renamed
A car names says a lot about the vehicle you're driving. For instance, the Rolls-Royce 'Phantom' exudes theatre and drama while the Skoda 'CitiGo' suggests which environment the car is designed for.
So imagine the dilemma a car maker faces when the new model it's about to launch happens to share a name with a virus that's causing global concern.
That's what's happened to Tata Motors in India with the release of its new Zica city car — not to be mistaken for the Zika virus currently linked to serious birth defects around the world.
Tata Motors said the Zica name, which is short for 'zippy car', will now be abolished and replaced, despite the car already appearing in a huge marketing campaign featuring Argentinian football star Lionel Messi.
Due to be officially unveiled at the New Delhi Auto Expo on Wednesday, the unfortunate similarity to the Zika virus, suspected of causing microcephaly — or abnormally small heads and brain damage — in babies, left the carmaker in a unenviable position of having to evaluate the possibility of re-branding.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the manufacturer — which also owns Jaguar Land Rover — confirmed it will be changing the name of the model, despite the adverting push.
'Empathising 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,' the announcement said.
'The new car is backed by Tata Motors’ 'Made of Great' campaign, with the motto, “What drives us from within is what makes us great”.
'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.'
No new name has been confirmed yet, though Tata Motors said it would be addressed it in a few weeks before the car goes on sale.
The car will still be appearing at the motor show from Wednesday, though models will still have the Zica branding.