Tata to rename Zica car over virus woes

Chairman of Tata Group, Cyrus Mistry and Tata Motors" Head of Advanced and Product Engineering, Tim Leverton (R), pose with a Zica car during its launch at the Indian Auto Expo in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, February 3, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tata is India's fifth-largest carmaker

Indian carmaker Tata Motors is to rename its forthcoming Zica hatchback after the similarly-named Zika virus sparked a global health emergency.

Tata Motors said that "as a socially responsible company", it had decided to rebrand the vehicle.

The car will go on show at a motor show in Delhi on Wednesday under its old name, but Tata will announce a new name "after a few weeks".

The Zika virus has now reached more than 20 countries and territories.

The World Health Organization declared on Monday that it posed an international health emergency requiring a united response.

The infection has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains.

Currently, there is no vaccine or medication to stop Zika. The only way to avoid catching it is to avoid getting bitten by the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the infection.

Tata intended to name its vehicle Zica, short for Zippy Car, but has now decided that the name is too close to that of the virus.

Until now, Tata Motors has been best known for its budget Nano cars, although it also owns the Jaguar and Land Rover brands.

The new Zica car, promoted with an advertising campaign starring Argentine footballer Lionel Messi, was seen as Tata's attempt to take its brand upmarket.

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