Fiat has been forced to drop the name Gingo from its crucial new budget car just ahead of its launch, after complaints from rival Renault.
Renault’s lawyers claimed the name is too similar to its Twingo, which is also a low-cost city car.
The beleaguered Italian car manufacturer is now believed to be considering resuscitating the Panda name for the car. It is having to reconsider its advertising and has been forced into an expensive redesign of its marketing materials and logos.
Marketing activity for the new car, including Fiat’s sponsorship of the Tour de France, had already begun under the Gingo name.
The Gingo/Panda is due to be launched in mainland Europe this autumn, with a UK launch following early next year. The car replaces the Seicento and the long-lived Panda, which is still on sale in Italy.
The Gingo name was announced in March, when the car was unveiled at the Geneva motor show. Renault denies waiting until now to complain deliberately in order to cause maximum commercial damage to its rival.
The Twingo is not sold in the UK at the moment, but Renault plans to market the next-generation Twingo here next year.
To help to stem its losses, Fiat has launched a facelifted Punto and is restyling its Multipla MPV to overcome consumer resistance to its looks.