The Korean carmaker, Kia, has run into trouble by calling its latest concept car the Provo, triggering fury from two Democratic Unionist MPs.Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) and William McCrea (South Antrim) claimed the name had caused “deep offence”, saying the car should be renamed with a title which was “not associated with terror and mayhem”.
In a Commons motion the MPs said: “This name has caused deep offence given that the Provisional IRA were known as the Provos when they were murdering and bombing in Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK, as well as in Germany, where the name is supposed to have been chosen.”
The row came as a surprise to Kia who unveiled the model at the Geneva Motor Show.
The Provo, the company said in its publicity blurb was a “sleek, low, yet muscular coupe-style” which was “meant to be cheeky and cheerful in its compactness and to hint at the fun awaiting on the open road”.
Kia was swift to reassure the MPs that the car will not be called the Provo when it goes into the showroom. In fact the name, chosen by the Italian designer, was adapted from prova – meaning try in his native language.
“We regret any unnecessary offence that might have been caused by the name,” a spokesman said. “It was supposed to denote performance, emotion and fun.”
Kia is hardly the first carmaker to drop a cultural clanger when naming its cars. The Chevrolet Nova fared badly in Spain, perhaps because it meant “does not go”, which was not the unique selling point the company might have wished.
Mazda, the Japanese manufacturer, should perhaps have thought twice when launching a car called Laputa in Spain, given that the title meant prostitute.
Even Rolls Royce has erred. The Silver Shadow should have been called the Silver Mist until somebody pointed out that German motorists were unlikely to go for a model called “manure”
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