The oft-repeated story that the Chevrolet Nova
didn't sell well in Spanish
-speaking countries (no va
= 'it doesn't go') appears to be more urban legend
Chevrolet's marketing managers in Mexico were understandably chary about the name when it was proposed to introduce the car there in the 1970s, but it did not in fact prove a problem. A marketing analyst said, "They kept the name and it sold very well. 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."
My source for this is the very valuable Urban Legends website www.urbanlegends.com, though it doesn't say much more on this than the above. (Sales statistics would have been helpful.)
I might also point out that no va is not nova. The verb phrase is accented on the va. So they sound different in Spanish; there is no chance of confusion; they are merely close enough to form an amusing pun. Far worse is perpetrated. In Australia there's a company that produces analytic gases, who boldly call themselves Analgas.