From _Business Mexico_, June, 1993
The most often cited auto blunder is the Chevrolet Nova (the phrase "No va"
translates in Spanish as "It doesn't go") which General Motors wanted to
bring into Mexico in the early 1970s. Although GM's Mexican managers were
worried about the name, Nova was indeed used.
"They kept the name and it sold very well," says marketing analyst Cecilia
Bouleau, who disputes the conventional wisdom surrounding the moniker.
"It's the same thing with Nova gasoline. I think that the word is
sufficiently incorporated into the language as meaning 'new' -- as in
'bossa nova' -- that the criticism isn't valid."
words1[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]word-detective.com
The situation must have been different in different areas of Latin
America. I remember a brief article in the _Wall Street Journal_ in the
1970s about what happened in Puerto Rico. Sales of the Nova were abysmal,
and management had no clue why. So a meeting was called to discuss the
matter, and at the meeting someone told management what was common
knowledge among the workers: that the name "(It)
doesn't go" (No va) was a major impediment to the sale of the car.
Management soon changed the car's name to the Caribe, and sales picked up.
I mentioned this story to one of my classes in the late l970s or early
1980s, and afterwards a Latin American student (from Venezuela, if I
remember right) told me that in her country the car's name Nova was also
regarded as a joke.
gcohen[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]umr.edu