In the relatively lengthy press release that Kia composed for the launch of its Provo concept car at the Geneva Motor Show this week, the company never mentioned where the name came from, or what it means for the car. A very basic web search for "Provo" reveals that the inspiration for the hatch could have been a city in Utah, a township in South Dakota or a village in Bosnia. The name could be a reference to either an American (Fred) or Canadian (Dwayne) football player, and Provo might also accurately reference a "Dutch counterculture movement in the mid-1960s" or a ship in the US Navy. More likely than any of those, however, is that the Kia designers of the concept – a car that was wholly a product of the Korean automaker's design studios in Frankfurt, for the record – meant it as a play on the existing Pro_cee'd hatchback.
What the designers and Kia executives that signed off on the Provo almost certainly did not have in mind was a reference to a street name for the Provisional Irish Republican Army. That "Provo" was, according to TheDetroitBureau.com, an outlawed army faction that was blamed for some 2,000 deaths in Northern Ireland during a period stretching from 1970 to 1997.
And yet, it was that association that led Gregory Campbell, a member of parliament from Northern Ireland, to introduce legislation that would ban Kia from selling a car under the name Provo. Kia, quick to realize the sizable gaffe it has stumbled into with the name, has reportedly already promised not to use the name for a production vehicle.