Update 3: A Volkswagen of America PR representative has sent the following statement to Car Throttle:
“There will be no renaming of Volkswagen of America. The alleged renaming was designed to be an announcement in the spirit of April Fool’s Day, highlighting the launch of the all-electric ID.4 SUV and signaling our commitment to bringing electric mobility to all. We will provide an update and official statement on this matter soon.”
So there we have it - all of this has just been a very badly thought-out and woefully executed marketing stunt. Sure, we’re all talking about it, but just remember that the old adage “all publicity is good publicity” isn’t really true.
Update 2: Reuters is now reporting that the supposed name change is indeed a marketing stunt, citing “three sources briefed on the matter”. The news emerged mere hours on from VW putting out a since deleted official press release announcing the apparent name change. Face, meet palm.
Update 1: Volkswagen of America’s name change to ‘Voltswagen of America’ has now been officially confirmed in a press release noting that the shift will commence from May 2021. As originally thought, only electric vehicles will carry the name on a special badge. All others will use the VW roundels as before.
According to a press representative we spoke to, the date of the announcement was brought forward having been initially planned for 29th April (we assume because of the accidental publishing on Monday). Regardless, the timing of all this does seem a little odd, so we’ll be taking nothing for granted until after 1 April has passed…
Original article continues below:
Soon, Volkswagen will become Voltswagen in the USA. An unfinished press release appeared on the company’s website announcing the change, before being deleted. The Internet never forgets, of course, so the removal was too late to stop its content from being picked up and reported on by various publications.
It might sound like an April Fool’s sent out a few days early, but the release was dated 29 April. Furthermore, citing “a person familiar with the company’s plans,” USA Today says it received confirmation that the news “is not a joke, it’s not a marketing ploy and the plan is for the change to be made permanent”. According to the Associated Press, meanwhile, an official announcement is to be made as soon as Tuesday. It’s worth pointing out, however, that there doesn’t seem to have been a trademark filing for the name.
The change is only affects the Volkswagen brand itself, with the Volkswagen Group of America name retained. The errant press release noted that only VW electric cars will receive a ‘Voltswagen’ name badge in the USA, with all other models left as is. At the moment, the only full EV available from VW in the country is the ID.4.
The reason for all this? A key driver is surely to distance the brand from its emissions fixing scandal. It was in the US, after all, that VW was forced to agree to the buyback of hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered cars which had passed emissions tests via unscrupulous means.
The press release, of course, puts a brighter spin on things. “The new name and branding symbolize the highly-charged forward momentum Voltswagen has put in motion, pursuing a goal of moving all people point-to-point with EVs,” it says.
When contacted by USA Today about the name change, Volkswagen of America spokesperson Brendan Bradley declined to comment. For a local perspective on the news we contacted VW’s UK PR team, who forwarded us onto their US counterparts without commenting specifically.