When Indian car manufacturer Tata shows off its new hatchback this week at the Auto Expo in New Delhi, it's calling it the Zica — a contraction of "Zippy Car," intended to tout it as a "peppy driving experience." But when the car hits the market later this year, it'll bear a different name, changed, the company said on Tuesday, to avoid connotations with the ongoing Zika virus outbreak.
In a statement, Tata said that it empathized with "the hardships being caused by the recent ‘Zika' virus outbreak across many countries" — including birth defects, limited lifespan, and possibly death — and that "as a socially responsible company," it would rebrand the car before launch. A company spokesperson said last weekend that the virus had not been well known during the car's development, and the name has been in use since last November when promotions involving soccer star Lionel Messi began.
The World Health Organization declared the spread of the Zika virus a global public health emergency on Monday, with as many as 1.5 million Brazilians potentially infected with the disease, which is believed to cause microcephaly in babies in the womb, and had links to a rare immune disorder called Guillain-Barré. Tata says a new name for the vehicle will be decided "after a few weeks." In the meantime, the Indian manufacturer will continue to use the Zica name for the remainder of this week's Auto Expo.