If you find yourself on Google, searching ‘Work Trucks for Sale Cincinnati’ you might expect to find the usual onslaught of F-150, Silverado, 1500 and Express conversion vans. But for 2018, OH residents will have a very unique, special edition offering to look forward to.


2018 KIA Harambe

That’s right. The Korean automaker is, for the first time, throwing their proverbial hat into the (somewhat less-proverbial) ring of ‘Work Trucks’. And they are doing so with a Limited Edition vehicle, named after the slain 17-year old, Western Iowland Gorilla and former resident of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

A September 2nd Press Release from KIA Motor Company reads as follows:

“HARAMBE. A name that will be eternally linked to Cincinnati, to the state of Ohio, and to the hearts of Americans everywhere. Derived from the word ‘Harambee’ it is Swahili for ‘communal labor’. In that spirit, and in honor of the spirit of our fallen primate friend, we are proud to announce that in the 2018 Model Year, Harambe will be reunited with Cincinnati’s laborers, becoming the official work truck of the Queen City.”

While there are many people who feel this is an acceptable tribute, many supporters of Harambe and employees of the Cincinnati Zoo disagree. That said, this is hardly the first time that a controversial vehicle name resulted from a headline or an occurrence in popular culture. While the KIA Harambe may go ‘all the way’, here are a few vehicles from the past three decades that didn’t quite make it.


2012 Lexus Occupy 1%

After four years in development, production of the Lexus Occupy was quickly shut down in late 2011. This would prove to be a wise decision, considering that the marketing campaign was intended to target a specific, and elitist demographic: the next generation of wealthy Americans.

Had the vehicle progressed through to release, the tagline, ‘Occupy Something Better’ would have most likely proven damning enough. Unfortunately, Lexus had also planned to acknowledge its 1% reduction in fuel emissions (the first of many steps to improve sustainability). Can you imagine the shit-show that would have been?


2010 Acura AFA

Pitched as a vehicle with universal appeal, the AFA was going to be made available in two trim levels. Initial tests showed that the base level tested very well, especially since it was going to be priced accessibly, despite including many features that previously were found only in higher trims. Acura would have been able to subsidize this, by increasing price on the higher trim levels.


2003 Hyundai Hey-Ya

First announced as a concept vehicle in 2001, the Hey-Ya was a back to basics approach for Hyundai. With plans to break it back down in just a few seconds, the automaker didn’t want to brake it down for nothing. Their goal was to accommodate people on their baddest behavior. People who would lend you some sugar, if they were your neighbor.

Never moved into mass production, there are very few records of the Hey-Ya’s existence, aside from a Polaroid picture.


2000 Audi Y2K

Only twenty of these limited-edition Audis were to be made, and it seemed like a brilliant idea for a novelty. Linked to satellite computers, the Audi Y2K was programmed to perform a factory reset on itself December 31st of every year at 23:59:59. While such a self-sustaining vehicle would be a massive financial loss if mass-produced, it was a clever idea for a limited release.

As an interesting side-note, it was heavily rumored that one of these vehicles was produced and bought by the late pop-star Prince, who drove it into a wall on New Years Eve distraught by the realization that he could no longer party like it was 1999. According to rumored eyewitnesses, Prince thought crashing the vehicle at the right moment would open up the Time/Space continuum, empowering him to relive 1999 over and over again, for all eternity,


1997 Volkswagen Viagra

Wanting to release a vehicle that would invigorate consumer interest and drive sales up, Volkswagen would choose a name that was, coincidentally, in the process of being trademarked by a pharmaceutical company called Pfizer. While Volkswagen had considered a legal battle for rights to the name, they came to the wise conclusion that it would just be too…damn…hard.


1992 BMW 90210

DaNaNaNa DaNaNaNa Ch-Chhhh. BMW’s plan for a limited release California-inspired roadster was moving full-steam ahead faster than you could say, “Donna Martin Graduates”. Unfortunately, billionaire television mogul Aaron Spelling decided that his fugly daughter really needed a job, and didn’t want to jeopardize the marketing of the show he built around her. Lawsuits were filed, settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

Speculation that the settlement wasn’t monetary at all resurfaces to this day. That said, it is worth mentioning that many mid-level BMW employees recall a single day where the executive team showed up after lunch, sporting pretty sweet side-burns that hey hadn’t had earlier in the day.


1988 Ford Baby: Jessica Edition 

Coming off 1987 as the top-selling automaker, Ford decided to double-down with its tribute to Jessica ‘Baby Jessica’ McClure, the infant who had become trapped in a well in Midland TX.

Pat I. Diaz, a former designer for the Ford Motor Company recalls the initiative, “The wanted to create something new, and small. Easily maneuverable, and able to fit easily into smaller spaces. At first, we thought that calling it the ‘Ford Baby’ was a great idea. If hindsight is 20/20, we definitely should have realized that taking it a step further with the ‘Jessica’ trim level was a bad idea. Oh well…

Will the KIA Harambe be a success? Only time will tell if it truly is designed with the Cincinnati worker in mind. If nothing else, KIA can remain focused since they won’t have to trouble themselves with child safety features.


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