'Voltswagen' rebranding an April Fool's stunt, says VW after furore

Volkswagen US's recent April Fool's stunt seems to have veered off course and ended up being unveiled as a marketing ploy for its new all-electric ID.4 SUV a little earlier than expected. The automotive brand drew online chatter over the past few days after it reportedly published a press release draft on 29 March concerning a rebranding of its US division to "Voltswagen of America". The release was left online just long enough for netizens and media outlets including Reuters, CNBC, ABC News and USA Today to pick up on it, before being deleted.

According to CNBC, the initial draft said the name change is "a public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility", adding that Voltswagen will be reflected as an exterior badge on all EV models. To differentiate the EV-centric branding from gas-powered vehicles, the release previously stated that light blue will be used for the new logo instead. Only gas vehicles will have the company's VW emblem.

Shortly after, VW published another press release in full on 30 March. This time, the release quoted Scott Keogh, president and CEO of the US division, who explained that while it might be swapping out the "K" for a "T", the automotive brand is not changing its brand's commitment to make the "best-in-class vehicles" for consumers worldwide, the Wall Street Journal reported. Some media outlets including USA Today, which quote their sources, also previously reported that this was not a marketing stunt and that the name change was meant to be permanent.

Separately, VW also tweeted: "We know, 66 is an unusual age to change your name, but we’ve always been young at heart. Introducing Voltswagen. Similar to Volkswagen, but with a renewed focus on electric driving. Starting with our all-new, all-electric SUV the ID.4 - available today." This was accompanied by the "Voltswagen" logo.

https://twitter.com/VW/status/1376868756782219266

However, with much press coverage surrounding it, the April Fool's joke seemed to have gotten out of hand and even led to a movement in shares. VW shares jumped 4.7% higher on the Frankfurt stock exchange, WSJ reported, and in the US, its American depositary receipts increased as much as 12% on 30 March. Eventually, VW decided to come clean with the joke. The brand's US spokesperson confirmed that there is no name change and the renaming was done in the spirit of April Fool's Day, Reuters said.

The spokesperson added that the April Fool's joke sought to spotlight the launch of the all-electric ID.4 SUV and highlight its commitment to bringing electric mobility to everyone. A check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE also found that the release announcing the rebranding was also taken down. Meanwhile, VW's spokesperson from Germany told WSJ that the name change should not be taken seriously and that it did not mean to mislead anybody. Instead, it was meant to be a marketing stunt to drum up hype for it ID.4 SUV. After the name change was confirmed as a joke, VW's depositary receipts closed up 9%, WSJ added. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to VW for comment.

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