Volkswagen of America lied about rebranding to ‘Voltswagen’

Image: Volkswagen of America
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Volkswagen of America lied about rebranding to “Voltswagen” in an effort to draw attention to the lone electric vehicle it’s currently selling in the United States, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal have reported. It was a marketing stunt done ahead of April Fools’ Day.

This all started when Volkswagen of America “accidentally” published a draft version of a press release announcing the change on Monday, which was first reported by CNBC. The company had declined to comment on the report, and spokesperson Mark Gillies repeatedly declined to say whether the name change was a marketing stunt.

The automaker, which pleaded guilty to deceiving regulators about the true pollution levels of hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles, then published a press release on Tuesday morning saying the change was a “public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility.” The company said the “Voltswagen” branding would be on all of its EVs going forward.

Volkswagen of America is now expected to reveal on Wednesday that the name change was a stunt, according to Reuters. The larger Volkswagen Group declined to comment.

“We have said, from the beginning of our shift to an electric future, that we will build EVs for the millions, not just millionaires,” CEO of Volkswagen of America Scott Keogh proudly boasted in the press release, which, at publication time, remained on the company’s website. “This name change signifies a nod to our past as the peoples’ car and our firm belief that our future is in being the peoples’ electric car.”

Volkswagen’s various social media accounts also promoted the lie on Tuesday. The @VW account tweeted an image of the fake “Voltswagen” logo and wrote “66 is an unusual age to change your name.” That’s a nod to the age of the American subsidiary — not the larger Volkswagen Group, which was founded in the 1930s before it became part of the Nazi war machine.

Volkswagen of America so straightforwardly represented the name change as real that it was reported by The Associated Press, the BBC, and dozens of other outlets, including The Verge. Even Wall Street firm Wedbush published a note about the change.

Volkswagen is at the beginning of an $86 billion push into electric vehicles because it wants to be known as the leader in the space — a strategic shift that, again, was inspired by the fact that the company was caught installing software on its vehicles that was meant to fool regulators into allowing dirty cars on the road. It did not seem completely out of the question that the company would be willing to make such a ridiculous choice; after all, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess has spent the last few months emulating Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who makes erratic decisions like most people drink water.

But now we know the rebrand was nothing more than another lie from a company that’s become known for something else: lying.

Update March 30th, 5PM ET: This post was originally written about Volkswagen’s announcement that it was rebranding in the US to “Voltswagen.” The company has since confirmed that this was a lie in service of a marketing stunt. The post and headline have been updated to reflect this.

Comments

Sounds like a pun someone took seriously.

Electric hype train my Lord. After 20 years they’ll become hydrowagon? Cmon!

Looks like IT IS a 1st of April Joke.
They didn’t submit for the trademark and the website, NO big brand will forget that.

It did its job. Everyone talked about it. Marketing team needs a raise.

Is everyone talking about it though? I haven’t seen anyone talking about it outside of my tech and advertising circles.

I don’t like this lame-ass social media hustler world. Ick. No raises deserved.

That’s how I’ve always pronounced it. But this seems like an April fools joke.

Guess you feel vindicated now, don’t you?

It was pretty obvious.

I thought it was obvious, but at least one other website reported it as if it was actually a real leak. So they were either playing along with the joke, or got caught up in the hype and were completely fooled.

Or they’re standard modern modern journalists that just unthinkingly regurgitate the contents of any press release that crosses their desk.

Judging by the tone of the revision, I doubt anyone at the Verge is laughing about this [for whatever reason].

The April fools joke was meh. But the ridiculous pearl clutching tone of this article gave me a chuckle.

They LIED! How could they do such a thing!! No company has ever lied about April fools pranks, this is preposterous!

Well, thanks to the Verge, at least now we know that pretending to change your brand-name for a few hours is a sin roughly on par with blatantly misleading the public about your carbon emissions.

Verge, why so salty? Lol

Not April yet…

Volkswagen is pronounced "Folkswagen" anyway, the German ‘v’ is mostly pronounced like an ‘f’ (only a very few exceptions where it actually is pronounced like a ‘v’).

Well, in all fairness, I’ve heard many people pronounce it as Voltswagen for a long time. It might be a regional thing? (I’m from Utah)

Probably, in Utah we tend to not articulate any middle consonants and just use a gutteral stop. So mountain becomes moun’in. I would guess the majority of people have never actually seen the word spelled out, and pronounce it like ‘voles wagon’.

I say it either like FolksWagon or WolksVagen (in an exaggerated accent) as an inside joke to myself.

In my 42 years of Salt Lake valley residence, Volkswagen typically seems to be pronounced, "Vōks-wagon." Hell, even I usually pronounce it that way (at least when talking to other English speakers), and I’m a few years into learning German so I definitely know better.
I like to think that the L is at least discernable when I speak, but probably not. I get odd looks when I say it more like ‘folks-vaggen’. So I don’t.

Yep but that’s how it is actually pronounced, the German ‘v’ is mostly pronounced like an ‘f’ (only a very few exceptions where it actually is pronounced like a ‘v’).

…snippage…

The company was apparently planning to make the announcement at the end of April

You mean at the very beginning of April. This is absurd.

Anything to get people to forget about Dieselgate. Does this remind anyone else of when Comcast’s reputation was so bad they had to invent Xfinity?

It’s a joke. Lighten up.

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