Introducing the Kia Terrorist

Kia concept car 'Provo' reminds Irish of terror:

"Lawmakers from Northern Ireland formally appealed Tuesday for the South Korean carmaker to junk the name of its planned super-mini sports coupe because "Provo" is the nickname for the dominant branch of the outlawed Irish Republican Army, the Provisional IRA."

Looks great in orange. Can't wait to check out the Toyota Blackentan and Hyundai Sectarian at next year's Detroit Auto Show.


  1. Naming cars after cities is silly. I should know; I live in a city with a car named after it.

  2. Because butthurt stings. Car companies usually try very hard to select names that don’t mean a damned thing in any language. There’s no definition for “Celica” except a Toyota model.

  3. Not as funny as the Honda Fit:

    “Honda originally intended to name the car “Fitta”, but shortened the name in some markets, and renamed it completely in others, upon discovering that in several Nordic languages, fitta is a popular and vulgar slang word for female genitalia”

    via The Oatmeal

    1. Seeing how every other Honda has a model name that is an actual word, I’m gonna call shenanigans.

    2.  As a sidenote the word “fitta” although meaning c*nt now in Swedish usually ment “wet woodland meadow” a few hundred years ago.

  4. They’re a bit sensitive You also can’t call things Black and Tan. And that has sensitivities of black racial experience too. Its a twofer. 

      1. The Irish are a bit fiesty; but if I were a South Korean, living within spitting distance of a dubiously balanced dude with awesome hair, lots of artillery, a zillion zerg conscripts, and apparently nukes, I think I’d be inclined to tell the protesting politicians to quit their whining and go get some real neighbor problems…

        1. The Troubles:
          Civilians killed: 1,842
          Total dead: 3,529
          Total injured: 47,541+

        2. Actually my point was more that if Kia were releasing a new car in the US called the Taliban I think there’d be a bit of a stink kicked up about it – and in impact terms that’s terrorism-light.

          I don’t think we need to move to a model where only the worlds worse off are allowed to grumble about things – that’s just silly.

      1. oh god no. Imagine the conspiracy theories spin offs we would have to endure.

  5. I remember being told that Toyota had to change the name of the MR2 in france as ’emme erre deux’ sounds pretty close to ‘merde’. But this was in the days before google when we could instantly check up on any amazing ‘fact’.

    Don’t companies that sell stuff in markets with many langages have a department, or employ an agency, to find out if potential names are offensive anywhere in the world?

    1.  Famously (well, for relative values of famous), the PR bods for our then polytechnic, during the period when we got rid of polytechnics and made them all into crap-sounding universities, wanted to call it City University of Newcastle-uopn-Tyne. It got a fair way upstairs approval-wise before someone said, ‘Er, hang on…’

      1.  I work at the City University of New York, and darn it if the “T” and “Y” aren’t damn close together for my buttery little typers.  Luckily I’ve yet to shoot off an email discussing anything but operations at CUNY

        1. The irony being “cunny” is itself a diminutive form of “c*nt”. (as used in, for example, HBO’s Rome)

      2. for similar reasons (many suspect), what might otherwise be the First Unitarian Church of Kensington is known as the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley.

    2.  As a web app developer, I’ve long thought it would be great to create a phonetic “baby name” tester that you would type potential names into, and it would warn you of any similar sounding common word in other languages.

      Instead, I just comment on blogs.

      1. But it still won’t help with family names. I have a friend, Tim Fokin, for example. And it pronounced just luke you expect it would… in Russian. 

    3. I was told that this was the reason they changed “Esso” to “Exxon,” but further research suggests that was bullshit.  In fact, they kept using the “Esso” name overseas.

    4. MR2 in french sounds just like “merdeux”, which simply means crappy.

      Companies do have marketing people who have long lists of things to do, but by the time you’ve committed $$$ beyond belief and gone over the budget waterfall 10 times, the CEO, investors and shareholders have a gun to your head shouting ‘just sell the fucking thing!’

      The marketing, although substantial in money terms, comes waaaay after the R&D, allocation of production facilities, decisions about optimal tax break structuring (e.g. which city gets production – Raleigh NC?  Dagenham England?  etc), preparation of the workforce etc.

      All that said – paradoxically, although the name is such a major factor to consumers, they seem to pay less attention to it and all the other stuff, because money-wise it just doesn’t seem to matter.

      Until d’oh!  Another famous car-name fudge-up!

      We see it more with cars than anything else because they’re about the most expensive mass-selling consumer item there is.

      My favourite was always the Nova (Opel / GM (?) / Vauxhall).  It didn’t go down so well in hispanic markets.

      1. And in the shoe department, the Reebok Incubus for women. 18,000 pairs of shoes at $57.99 a pair recalled.

        1. Ha!  Very Orlando Bloom’s Späsmotica!

          I could do this all day, it’s so amusing –

          Incubus.  Wow.

    5.  MR2 can arguably be translated as “Nissan”.

      In Japanese, 2 is “ni” (pronounced as the Knights Who Say Ni). Reading MR as mister, it translates as the honorific “san”, which follows the proper name.

      Therefore, “Mister Two” translates as “ni san”.

  6. I seem to remember a similar problem in that neck of the woods with an advertising campaign with the company slogan “the future’s bright, the future’s orange”

    1. That was a big PR problem for the car company when it started.  That and the fact that their cars were described as being two decades behind the industry in safety and comfort features.

        1. Yes, it was. I remember reading about it in the papers.

          Also, I know you are but what am I?

  7. Given that “Kia says it has no plans to bring the Provo to life.”, why do the Irish give a shit? If they had just ignored it, I would never have heard of the non-thing.

    1. Taking symbolic offense at irrelevant things ranks right up there with being in favor of ‘the children’ on the scale of political safety…

  8. Rob, you missed your calling.  Sometimes I wonder how some weird model names get chosen.  Kia always had some odd ones.  Wikipedia tells me that the Sephia was an acronym for Style Elegant Powerful Hi-tech Ideal Auto, which is as random a collection of vaguely positive automotive terms as one could hope to splash on a Scrabble board.  I don’t know what kind of consumer finds names like Elantra or Galant or Camry or Scoupe or RAV4 appealing, but I’d put down a deposit for a Hyundai Sectarian right now.

  9. This is stupid. Provo != Terrorists. Provo = Mormons. Clearly Utah should have sued those pesky Irishmen back when they started the Provisional IRA, or maybe the papers when they shortened the name, if it wasn’t IRA-approved.

    1. Provo was a Dutch counter movement protest thingie from the ’60s. They has a lot of weird funny bizarre proposals that 30 years later some cities actually started to implement.

  10. and Saxony attempted to get Cadillac to change the name of the “ESCALADE” because it brought up to many unpleasant memories of Normans with long ladders.

    1. I don’t know what VW was thinking.
      Touareg has got to be the inherently ugliest name for a car since Edsel.

    2. Apart from the obvious fact that the VW Touareg was introduced when Lybia was still under Gaddafi, people worried about actual Tuaregs are not VW’s target market. Their market is middle-class Europeans for whom “Touareg” is a synonym for “expensive holidaysin exotic places where white people are still colonial rulers”… of National Geographic pics with fiery moustached men who’d drag a powerful but repressed nordic woman to their tent and make wild love to her until the day rises again… of images of rugged warlords dominating unruly tribes like a white nordic male dominates his office underlings… and of course, of big cars that can go through the desert without breaking a sweat, so they’ll fend off suburban traffic in style.

      I personally don’t see anything wrong with the name, from a marketing perspective. Unfortunately, the car is just another ego-stroking SUV that should probably be banned like the rest of them.

      1. fiery moustached men who’d drag a powerful but repressed nordic woman to
        their tent and make wild love to her until the day rises again…

        In other words, they just watched The Sheltering Sky.

  11. I don’t know why the NI government’s reaction is considered worthy of ridicule. Sectarian terrorism is still a fact of life in Northern Ireland.
    This would be like GM launching a car in Mexico called the Chevrolet Zeta.

      1. Honestly, naming a vehicle after a group known for ruthless efficiency in transportation is hardly the least sensible move…

        “The Chevy Zeta: Dedicated to those who stop at nothing to get where they are going.”

  12. No worse than Dodge almost naming their version of the Plymouth Duster the Dodge Beaver.  When someone young enough to have a clue suggested that might not be the best idea, they called it the Demon instead.  Great idea, eh?

  13. Oh, FFS. Ben & Jerry’s getting rid of their Black & Tan ice cream just encouraged them. Look, I’m as much or more Irish as the next person, but you can get a black and tan in any bar that serves Guinness. 

    1.  Fenton’s Creamery in Oakland, CA (Cameo’ed in the film “Up”) has a Black & Tan Sundae. Toasted almond ice cream with chocolate and caramel sauces. My fave.

  14. Peru’s Maoist “Shining Path-finder”?  The Khmer Peugeot?

    (Poor taste, perhaps…but the Chrysler Crossfire stands on its own merits)

  15. I hear that Provo was supposed to be short for Performance Velocity. The original name Pervo didn’t market test so well.

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