Marketing missteps in naming cars quickly become legendary. There's the urban myth that the Chevrolet Nova failed in South America because in Spanish, no va means "won't go." (It's not true.)

But now it turns out that Audi may have committed a blunder in naming its line of electric cars e-Tron. Especially since they're about to be shown at the Paris Motor Show.

As one Francophone just pointed out to us, the French word étron is a particularly unfortunate choice in that language.

Online translation tools give French synonyms for étron that include caca and excrément. Or to put it a tad less delicately, in English, it means "crap, dirt, droppings ... muck, poop ... shite, turd".

Yes, it appears Audi may have named its entire line of electric cars after ... errrr ... dung.


French seems to pose frequent problems for automakers in naming cars. When Buick famously rebranded its midsize sedan from Regal to LaCrosse for 2004, its marketers were mortified to learn that in French Canadian slang, lacrosse was used by Québec teenagers to refer to the practice of masturbation.

Thus, in Canada, the midsize car otherwise known as the Buick LaCrosse was sold as the Buick Allure from 2005 until the 2010 model year. In an effort to unify global Buick model names, Francophone Canadian buyers will now have to be willing to say they drive a LaCrosse. Quelle horreur.

Other such gaffes globally include the Mitsubishi Pajero (in Spanish-speaking countries, pajero is a slang word for masturbator) and the Ford Pinto, which in Brazilian Portugese slang turns out to mean "small penis." And there are more.

Over to you, Audi.