A concept car sharing the same name as an extreme Irish terror group will never be sold in Britain with that branding, Kia has said.
The launch of the Kia Provo at the Geneva motor show led to Irish unionists tabling a parliamentary motion in protest because members of the Provisional IRA are known as “provos”. MPs claimed that the name had caused “deep offence” and called on Kia to come up with a name “which is not associated with terror and mayhem”.
And so, 14 hours after its unveiling, Kia released a statement saying that the name Provo would not be used in Britain: “Not now, not ever”. It could be the shortest-lived car name in history.
The car was meant to give customers an idea of what Kia’s expected Mini-rival would look like but the controversy began as soon as the hatchback was announced.
“I saw it on Monday evening, before the show,” said Stephen Kitson, corporate communications director for Kia in Britain. “As soon as I did, I realised that some people would have that kind of response. I lived in Northern Ireland as a child and I am aware of the sensitivities.
“There wasn’t anything that we could do because the name was on the car but I can say that there will never be a car called Provo sold in Britain. Neither will there be a “Free Derry” or “No surrender” special edition.”
Kia described the name as a misunderstanding, as it was chosen by the car’s designer who is from Italy where the word means “I try”.
“It has no other meaning across most of Europe,” said Kitson. “And as a concept car, it did not go through the same checking process that a production car would. We regret if any anxiety or concern has been caused.”
It is understood that the parliamentary motion, tabled by two MPs from the Democratic Unionist party, is the strongest complaint received by Kia.
The Korean firm is not the first to encounter problems with local translations.
When Vauxhall’s Nova was being sold in Britain it was called the Corsa in Europe because Nova means “no go” in Spanish. Last year Volkswagen was forced to rename its “Black Up!” the “Up! Black!”.
Honda’s Fitta and Mitsubishi’s Pajero conjured up obscene images in Sweden and Mexico, respectively, while Toyota’s MR2 sounds like the rude French word, “merde”.
Sometimes bizarre names can slip through. Daihatsu’s Charade was sold in Britain for more than a decade. Mazda’s Bongo and the Toyota Picnic also reached British showrooms.
Published on March 6, 2013Tweet