Korean car maker Kia has said it will not be selling its new car in the UK under its original name of Provo — “not now, not ever”.
The car had been plagued by ‘Troubles’ because its shares its name with a slang term for a Provisional IRA member.
The company has now abandoned the Provo after angry unionists urged Kia to rebrand.
A Kia spokesman said: “We will not be selling a car in the UK named Provo, not now, not ever.
“We regret any misunderstanding of a motor show name and we are sorry if anyone was offended — this was a genuine creative naming process and no offence was intended.”
The Provo concept car was unveiled at the Geneva motor show, with Kia claiming the “sleek, low, yet muscular coupe-style” design was “meant to be cheerful in its compactness and to hint at the fun awaiting on the open road”.
But the DUP’s Gregory Campbell said the name had caused “deep offence” and tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on Kia to think again. The motion said the Provo should be renamed to something “not associated with terror and mayhem”.
“The swift action by Kia is to be welcomed. Obviously a large company may not be aware of all the connotations surrounding a particular name,” said Mr Campbell.
“I accept that this was a mistake made by the company and I know that their decisive action will be welcomed by many people, in Northern Ireland and beyond, whose lives have been affected by the murderous actions of the Provisional IRA over a 30-year period.”
Stephen Kitson, corporate communications director at Kia Motors UK, said the debut name of the car was chosen by the designer.
“We're sorry if anybody takes offence at it, but this car is not about Northern Ireland,” said Mr Kitson, who lived here as a child. “It's a play on the Italian word and it was also linked to the desire to provoke emotions, to provoke aspirations, to make the car exciting and fun.
"We're sorry if anybody takes offence at it, but this car is not about Northern Ireland. We're not going to do a Free Derry special edition or anything of that nature.
"It's to show what Kia's designers are thinking, to gauge opinions and get feedback on the car, not the name."
Dodgy car names
- In French, Toyota’s MR2 sounds very like ‘merde’, a toilet-based exclamation.
- Mitsubishi’s Pajero sounds like a sexual act in Spanish.
- Vauxhall’s Nova — the hatchback of choice in Northern Ireland in the 1990s — means ‘no go’ in Spanish.
- Ford's Pinto failed to sparkle in Brazil. Later, the company found out that ‘pinto’ is slang for certain small male genitals.
- Nissan launched a Cedric and a Pantry Boy.
- General Motors in Canada were forced to rebrand their Buick LaCrosse in 2003 after discovering it had an embarrassing meaning in French Canadian slang.