Indian car manufacturer Tata Motors has confirmed it will rename its new small car Zica given the name's similarity to the Zika virus spreading across the globe.

The car was presented at the Auto Expo 2016 in Greater Noida, outside New Delhi, on Wednesday as the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency following the latest Zika virus outbreak.

Zica - an abbreviation for Zippy Car - has been endorsed by Argentina and Barcelona football star Lionel Messi, who was named world player of the year 2015 at a FIFA gala in Zurich last month and claimed the Ballon d'Or trophy for the fifth time overall.

"Empathising with the hardships being caused by the recent Zika virus outbreak across many countries, Tata Motors, as a socially responsible company, has decided to re-brand the car," the company said in a statement.

"The new hatchback has been showcased publicly for the first time at the Auto Expo 2016. While it carries the 'ZICA' label for the duration of the event, the new name will be announced after a few weeks, ensuring all necessary consumer/branding and regulatory aspects are addressed, and the launch will take place thereafter."

Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus.

The virus, which may be connected to thousands of birth defects in the Americas, is primarily spread through mosquito bites, but investigators are exploring the possibility that it could be sexually transmitted.

India's largest vehicles company with revenues of $42.04bn in 2014-15, Tata Motors revealed the car's name last November.

 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies