February 2, 2016 / 11:37 AM / 2 years ago

India's Tata Motors to rename hatchback that sounds like Zika

Tata Motors' newly launched Zica car is displayed at the Indian Auto Expo in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, February 3, 2016.Anindito Mukherjee

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The rapidly-spreading Zika virus has an unlikely victim - Indian carmaker Tata Motors Ltd (TAMO.NS).

The carmaker said on Tuesday it had decided to rename its soon-to-be-launched hatchback Zica, short for Zippy Car, after the mosquito-borne virus was declared an international health emergency.

Tata Motors, part of the Tata Group, one of India's largest conglomerates, said it would decide on a new name for the hatchback after a few weeks. It is due to showcase the car in the biennial New Delhi motor show starting Wednesday.

The World Health Organization has said Zika is "spreading explosively" and could infect as many as 4 million people in the Americas.

Tata Motors is seeking an image makeover with the curvaceous hatchback, which is being endorsed by that is endorsed by world soccer player of the year Lionel Messi.

India's fifth-biggest automaker, which owns the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, has struggled to dispel perceptions of cheapness since releasing its Nano cars seven years ago costing under $3,000.

Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy, editing by Louise Heavens

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