Story at a glance
- The automaker on Monday seemed to accidentally reveal a press release on its website announcing it was changing the name of its U.S. subsidiary to “Voltswagen” as a way to mark its shift toward electric cars.
- The release was swiftly deleted, but on Tuesday, Volkswagen posted it again, insisting it was legitimate and the name change was real.
- Volkswagen later fessed up and said the announcement was a marketing campaign for its new electric SUV.
It appears Volkswagen won’t be changing its name to “Voltswagen” after all.
The automaker on Monday seemed to accidentally reveal a press release on its website announcing it was changing the name of its U.S. subsidiary to “Voltswagen” as a way to mark its shift toward electric cars. The release was swiftly deleted, but on Tuesday, Volkswagen posted it again, insisting it was legitimate and the name change was real, prompting media outlets, including Changing America, to report the change.
“We might be changing out our K for a T, but what we aren’t changing is this brand’s commitment to making best-in-class vehicles for drivers and people everywhere,” Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Voltswagen of America, said in a false statement Tuesday.
But it turns out, the announcement was just a premature April Fool’s Day joke aimed at promoting the launch of the automaker’s all-electric ID.4 SUV.
“It’s a premature April Fools’ joke. It’s part of a marketing campaign for the ID.4. There will be no name change,” an official at the carmaker’s German headquarters told The Wall Street Journal later Tuesday.
But the joke appeared to be lost on the media and public who largely took it at face value. The company's stock price even rose more than 10 percent Tuesday following the announcement, according to Business Insider.
Dear Volkswagen: You lied to me. You lied to AP, CNBC, Reuters and various trade pubs. This was not a joke. It was deception. In case you hadn’t noticed, we have a misinformation problem in this country. Now you’re part of it. Why should anyone trust you again? https://t.co/1rcKT7p0u5— Nathan Bomey (@NathanBomey) March 30, 2021
Volkswagen did not immediately respond to Changing America’s request for comment.
“What began as an April Fool’s effort got the whole world buzzing. Turns out people are as passionate about our heritage as they are about our electric future,” a Twitter account with the handle Volkswagen tweeted Wednesday.
The intentional fake news release comes several years after Volkswagen was ordered to pay billions of dollars in civil and criminal fines for cheating on government emissions tests.
READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA