Volkswagen won’t rebrand US operations as “Voltswagen”

The planned US name-change was nothing more than an elaborate April Fools’ joke

Voltswagen

Volkswagen has confirmed that it will not rebrand its US operations as “Voltswagen” despite adamant claims from the company, which publicised the move as genuine.

The timing of the initial announcement raised questions about its legitimacy, as it was only days before April Fools’ Day. Volkswagen issued a press release on 29 March, which was quickly followed by an official statement, both of which confirmed the rebrand as genuine.

According to the company’s release, the rebrand would only apply to electric Volkswagen models sold in the US, rather than the wider North American market. The “Voltswagen” name, it said, will appear on the company’s EVs alongside a new light blue badge, with the dark blue VW roundel reserved for combustion-engined vehicles.

The announcement was apparently timed to coincide with the launch of the ID. family of electric vehicles in the US. The ID.4 SUV is about to go on sale there as Volkswagen’s first US-market MEB-based electric vehicle, as the firm doesn’t offer the smaller ID.3 hatchback that’s already on sale in Europe.

Numerous US media outlets quickly latched onto the proposed rebrand, ranging from automotive media to national news providers, all of which confirmed the move as true. The Volkswagen America PR team were in on the joke, too, and kept the illusion going with serious-looking quotes from high ranking company officials.

In particular, Scott Keogh, Volkswagen America’s president and CEO, released a statement which read: 

“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.

“The idea of a ‘people’s car’ is the very fabric of our being. We have said, from the beginning of our shift to an electric future, that we will build EVs for the millions, not just millionaires. 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 US marketing vice president, Kimberly Gardiner, also said: “Over the course of the next few months, you will see the brand transition at all consumer touch points. This is an exciting moment for us, and we have been working through every avenue to make the transition clear, consistent, seamless and fun for all.”

However, the facade soon crumbled as, on 30 March, the Reuters news agency quoted three internal sources at Volkswagen who confirmed the move was nothing more than a marketing stunt, and that the company had planned to wait until April Fools’ Day before making the joke announcement.

Car manufacturers are better versed than most in making hoax press releases on April Fools' Day, but they’re usually very easy to spot or clearly labelled as such, and reserved for the day itself. The confusion around Volkswagen’s efforts this year stems from the leak and the subsequent efforts from the PR team to keep the joke running until the big day.

Now check out our run-down of the best car-based April Fools’ jokes from years gone by, by clicking here

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