Contrary to what you may have read, Volkswagen has not changed its name.
The company’s U.S. operation caused a stir with an announcement on its website that it planned to call itself Voltswagen to emphasize its push into electric vehicles as it rolls out its first electric sport-utility vehicle in the United States — the ID.4. The change came ahead of April Fool’s Day — a favorite time of year for companies to try to grab a share of the social media conversation, such as when IHOP tried to convince the world it was changing its last letter to B, as in burgers.
“At the end of the day, it was a bit of fun with the name and the brand,” a Volkswagen spokesperson, Mark Gillies, said. “We wanted to reinforce what we are messaging about the ID.4.”
Word of the name change surfaced on Monday when a news release announcing the name change was published on the company’s website for about an hour before disappearing. CNBC, USA Today and others reported on the news release, saying it was dated April 29 and appeared to have been accidentally posted a month early.
On Tuesday, the company posted a new statement dated March 30 about the name change, sparking a flurry of comments and speculation on social media. Late Tuesday afternoon, Volkswagen officials in Germany, where the company is based, acknowledged it was a marketing tactic.
The company’s Twitter account was changed Tuesday morning to show a logo with the new name, but the company’s website continued to use the old name.
The new name was written in a fluorescent blue typeface similar to the font General Motors chose for a new logo it unveiled in January. GM’s logo was intended to have the same effect — to emphasize its commitment to electric vehicles.
GM has said it aims to make only electric vehicles by 2035. Volkswagen has said it will no longer develop new gasoline engines a few years from now.
Volkswagen needs to make a splash if it wants to sell a lot of electric cars in the United States. Tesla dominates the market for now, while Ford Motor has gained ground with the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV. that has been delivered to several thousand drivers.
Changing the name of an automaker as established as Volkswagen would clearly be a huge undertaking, and not just for the company. Its dealers would have to spend millions of dollars to rebrand their franchises.
“I don’t know anything about it,” said Jason Kuhn, owner of two Voltswagen, nee Volkswagen, dealerships near Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday before the company admitted it was just having fun. “I’ve read it. I really can’t comment.”