Iconic brand’s April fool’s stunt backfires


Volkswagen is one of the biggest names in the automotive world with some of the world's most iconic vehicles in its range.

So why would it mess with a name people have known for decades?

On Monday, Volkswagen of America "accidentally" posted a press release on its website announcing it would change its name to Voltswagen to promote its push into electric vehicles.

The statement was picked up by CNBC, who said a spokesperson declined to comment on the release and the story was also drew widespread coverage in other publications.


The company has poured about $A113 billion into electric vehicles as part of the shift in the automotive world.

But Reuters was soon reporting sources saying the statement had been a marketing stunt

and the original article on CNBC was updated.

"Volkswagen initially said it was going to rename its US operations Voltswagen to signify its commitment to electrification of its fleet. The company confirmed (on) Tuesday that the announcement was an elaborate April fool's joke," CNBC reported.

Journalists who had tried to verify the original story were angered by the stunt and hit back at the company, saying it was not a joke but "deception".

One account that mocks the failure of journalists also joined in the controversy.

In Europe, where diesel and petrol vehicles are being phased out, Volkswagen sells the most electric cars, with electric versions of its Golf, the larger Passat, and the electric specific ID. 3 model.

The Audi e-Tron and Porsche Taycan could also be included in its numbers as Volkswagen owns both brands.

Sales for Volkswagen's branded electric vehicles more than tripled last year compared to the year before.

In the US, where its local subsidiary claimed it would change its name, doesn't sell any electric vehicles yet, but the upcoming ID. 4 will be sold there.

Volkswagen's emissions scandal

In 2015, the German automaker was caught out deliberately cheating emissions tests by programming its vehicles with a secret operating mode for the purposes of testing.

The scandal that eventually became known as Dieselgate stemmed from an elaborate operation spanning several years in which Volkswagen had made false representations about the green credentials of its diesel vehicles through the installation of "defeat devices".

The company specifically designed its cars to cheat emissions tests from 2009 until 2015, but was caught out after the US Environmental Protection Agency and other investigators found its cars emitted around 40 times more nitrogen oxide on the roads than when they were tested.

In 2019, the company was fined $125 million in Australia over the scandal.

That figure was a record for violations of local consumer law but it paled in comparison to the $US2.8 billion ($A3.68 billion) criminal fine a US judge ordered the company pay, on top of a $US1.5 billion ($A1.9 billion) civil penalty.


Originally published as Iconic brand's April fool's stunt backfires

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