renault zoe

So, what’s in a name? Nothing and everything, depending on which side of the fence you’re looking from. In this case, it has all to do with Zoe, Renault’s new electric car planned for market introduction in 2012. A bizarre naming dispute came about recently, but Renault has been given the go ahead to name the EV – introduced in Zoe Preview form in Paris recently – as intended, after a French judge ruled in favour of the automaker.

According to news reports, the parents of two children curiously named Zoe Renault (the families aren’t related to the company) had brought the case to court to get Renault to choose another name for the vehicle, and in doing so prevent the children – and indirectly, the 35,000 or so other Zoes in France – from having to endure a lifetime of ribbing (like, ‘equipped with dual front airbags?’) over the name. The parents of the two Zoe Renaults, aged two and eight, were not seeking any damages.

In what was a fast-tracked proceeding, the judge found against the families, stating that they would only have a case if there was enough proof that naming the car Zoe – which means life in Greek – would cause “certain, direct and current harm” to the children.

renault zoe 2

The automaker has models with female first names, for example, the Megane and Clio, which are popular names for girls in France. None, however, have brought about such organised opposition – with this one, more than 6,000 people signed a petition on a Facebook page called “Zoe’s not a car name.”

Apparently, first names are a pretty serious thing in France – in the past, there was a specific list of names which parents were restricted to in naming their children. Those rules have since been slackened, but even then, an official can still oppose a ridiculous name choice that could potentially damage the child’s future.

So, don’t be a pajero (look up that one in Spanish) and start with those bawdy Elise and Mercedes jokes now. Names, indeed.