Renault dans l'eau chaud over Zoé name

The French carmaker is under pressure to change the name of its latest car, Zoé.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Renault, the French car company, seems to have made a bit of a faux pas in naming its latest offering. Apparently, the company forgot to check Pages Jaunes before it settled on the name for its latest electric concept car, the Renault Zoé – and now one Ms Zoé Renault (yes, really) is so upset about it that she’s taking legal advice. Mon dieu!

The unfortunate Ms. Renault has complained to French newspaper Le Parisien, saying that sharing her name with the car would, like, totally ruin her life. 'It would be unbearable for me to hear "the Zoé has broken down", "we have to get the Zoé overhauled" or "so and so killed themselves in a Zoé",' she whined. In fact, she’s so wound up about it that she’s hired a lawyer specialising in les prénoms, who has written to the company urging it reconsider its decision. This David Koubbi reckons the name of the new car may well ‘constitute an attack on the rights’ of Ms Renault. Hmmm.

Nonetheless, this could present Renault with a problem. After all, Renault is a reasonably common surname, and there are about 30,000 other Zoés in France. If all of them are as unhappy as Miss Renault about sharing their name with the latest four-wheeled money-spinner, the French company could lose out on some valuable custom. Quelle dommage!

Technically, the Zoé is still at the concept stage, so there’s still a chance Madame Zoé could get her way; Renault (perhaps in an attempt to play down the row) insists the name isn’t a ‘definitive choice’ yet. And some people have already been helpfully suggesting alternatives: one eight-year-old Zoé has apparently proposed the slightly more futuristic (but much less French) sounding ‘oZé’. But having spent all that money developing the brand, we suspect Renault will be pretty reluctant to change tack now, just because a bolshy student (who we’re sure is already subject to her fair share of car-based gags) gets uppity about it.

And while Zoés everywhere may be less than happy about the idea of sharing their names with a car, we can’t help but see a silver lining: at least it’s an eco-friendly electric. Imagine if it was a gas-guzzler – that would be vraiment tragique, non?


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