Virus, genitalia, prostitute: Car names with unfortunate meanings

Zica car to change its name
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Story highlights

  • Indian automaker Tata Motors says it will rename its new "Zica" hatchback amid fears over the Zika virus
  • Here are some more cars whose names manufacturers also might have regretted

(CNN)As fears of the Zika virus sweep the globe, Indian automaker Tata Motors said Tuesday it would rename its soon-to-be-launched hatchback, the "Zica."

The car got its name from an acronym for "Zippy Car," but changed it to avoid calling to mind the mosquito-borne virus that has caused a public health emergency in the Americas.
The hatchback will be showcased publicly for the first time at the Auto Expo 2016 in New Delhi this week. While it will carry the "Zica" label for the duration of the event, the new name will be announced later.
Tata, the owner of Jaguar Land Rover, had already publicized and promoted the name, along with the model's stylishness and "peppy driving experience."
Here are some more cars whose names manufacturers also might have regretted:

Chevrolet Nova

The name of GM's sedan may have sounded jaunty in English, but "no va" had an unfortunate meaning in Spanish -- "doesn't go." Nevertheless it sold relatively well in Latin America in the 1970s. GM learned its lesson though: while its Vauxhall marque used the Nova name in Britain in the 80s, in Europe it was known as the Corsa.

Mercedes-Benz Vito

The German automaker's van has never entirely overcome the alarming effect its name had on the population of Sweden when it was launched in 1996. "Vito" translates as the female genitalia, or at least a more earthy term. Honda was also on the verge of calling its city car the "Fitta" in 2001, before it realized what the word meant (it has similarly anatomical connotations) in Swedish and Norwegian. It was eventually launched as the Fit in those markets, and Jazz elsewhere.

Mitsubishi Pajero

Mitsubishi's Pajero SUV was known in many -- but not all -- Spanish markets as the "Montero." Why? Well would you choose a car whose name means, in many South America countries, a liar, unreliable or lazy person -- or more disturbingly, a man who "pleasures himself" a lot. Thought not!

Mazda LaPuta

The name of this boxy little hatchback may be derived from the name of an island described in Jonathan Swift's 1726 book "Gulliver's Travels," but there's no getting around what this word means in Spanish: "whore." The car didn't sell well in Hispanic-speaking markets.

Nissan Moco

The name of this hatchback was only used in Japan. Car-buyers in Spain might have turned their noses up at it; there its name means "booger" or "bogey."

AMC Gremlin

While, the cars listed above were distinguished only by their unfortunate names, in the case of AMC's quirky 1970s compact car, "Gremlin" was entirely fitting. Time.com included it in its list of the worst 50 cars of all time, concluding that while it was quick, "that only meant you heard the jeers and laughter that much sooner."