Why the Zika Virus Could Be Problematic for Tata Motors

February 1, 2016, 8:41 PM UTC
Photograph courtesy of Tata Motors

Indian car maker Tata Motors (TTM) plans to unveil its new hatchback this week, which the company has called Zica, at the Auto Expo in New Delhi.

The name is very similar to Zika, a virus transmitted by mosquitos that the World Health Organization has just declared to be a “public health emergency of international concern,” according to CNN. It has spread to at least 24 countries so far, and the WHO predicts that it will affect 3-4 million people in the Americas alone within the next year. India has been known to be especially vulnerable to mosquito-borne diseases, and one known as Dengue fever that’s closely related to Zika is still common there.

It’s uncertain whether or not the name would end up affecting sales of the Zica, but it’s something to consider. Fortune reported that Isis Pharmaceuticals recently changed its name to Ionis following the Paris attacks. The pharma firm’s stock had fallen, though it wasn’t proven to be a result of its name.

Tata‘s head of corporate communications, Minari Shah, told CNN Money that the company is “currently evaluating this situation and will soon take a decision” to either change or keep the hatchback’s name. She added, “Putting a brand name is a fairly long process—from focus groups to making sure there are no conflicting trademarks.” Even if Tata did want to change the name of the car, it may not be realistic to do so before it’s unveiled.

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