Porsche, known worldwide for its iconic sports cars, created quite a buzz when it introduced the Porsche 911 Dakar – a vehicle that promised the perfect blend of sports car aesthetics and SUV-like practicality. However, what many may not know is that this eye-catching car was initially meant to bear the name “911 Safari.” Tata Motors, the Indian automotive giant, played a pivotal role in changing that, thanks to their claim to the name “Safari” and strict trademark regulations.
Tata Motors’ History with the Safari Name
Tata Motors had a long history with the name “Safari.” It was originally used for their flagship SUV, the Tata Safari, which debuted back in 1998. The Tata Safari was a sturdy, rugged, and beloved SUV in India, known for its robust off-road capabilities and spacious interiors. However, it faced its discontinuation due to evolving emission norms.
The Revival of the Safari
Tata Motors decided to revive the “Safari” nameplate for their new 7-seater version of the Harrier, despite the significant differences between the old and new generations of the Safari. The current-generation Safari boasts a monocoque chassis and a front-wheel-drive layout, a notable departure from its predecessor. It doesn’t offer a 4×4 drivetrain in any of its variants. Tata Motors took a more modern approach, enhancing the interior with premium materials and offering an array of features such as a panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, ventilated seats, leatherette upholstery, and a touchscreen infotainment system.
Under the hood, the modern Safari packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine producing 170 PS and 350 Nm of peak torque. It’s available with both a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic transmission, catering to a wider audience.
Porsche’s Initial Choice: 911 Safari
When Porsche decided to create a rugged-looking version of their iconic 911 sports car, they initially had a name in mind – the “911 Safari.” This choice was rooted in the worldwide association of the name “Safari” with off-roading, beefed-up tires, and rugged suspension systems. It seemed like the perfect name for a vehicle that combined the elegance and power of a sports car with the practicality and higher ground clearance of an SUV.
Tata Motors’ Objection
However, Tata Motors held a trademark for the “Safari” name and had a strong attachment to it, especially given its history with the original Tata Safari. Tata Motors clearly had no intention of letting go of the “Safari” nameplate, which added to the legacy of their SUVs.
The Name Change to Porsche 911 Dakar
Tata Motors firmly opposed Porsche’s choice of “911 Safari,” citing copyright infringement laws and the potential confusion in the market. As a result, Porsche found itself in the need for an alternative name. After thorough research, they settled on “Porsche 911 Dakar.” The name “Dakar” is widely recognized as one of the most challenging off-road races globally, and it conveyed the spirit of adventure and toughness that Porsche wanted to associate with their rugged 911 variant.
In the world of automotive branding, names carry significant weight, often reflecting a vehicle’s identity and heritage. Tata Motors’ insistence on protecting their “Safari” nameplate led Porsche to rename their 911 sportscar to the “Dakar,” emphasizing its off-road prowess. This fascinating interplay between two automotive giants reminds us of the importance of intellectual property and the lasting impact a name can have in the automotive industry.