I know what you’re thinking: Surely, this is a joke? Or a marketing ploy? Maybe someone on the PR side of Volkswagen of America hit “send” a few days early on an April Fools’ press release?
But no, USA Today insists Volkswagen of American really is going to either change its name or create a whole new brand just one letter off from its own name for its EVs:
Volkswagen’s American division appears poised to change its name to “Voltswagen,” switching the “k” to a “t” in a nod toward the automaker’s investment in electric vehicles.
The German automaker’s announcement on the change appeared briefly on its media site Monday before it was removed, having apparently been released before it was ready for an official rollout.
Volkswagen spokesperson Brendan Bradley declined to comment Monday.
But VW was not hacked, the announcement is not a joke, it’s not a marketing ploy and the plan is for the change to be made permanent, said a person familiar with the company’s plans on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The date on the announcement was April 29, but it seems it was accidentally posted a month early. Sounds legit... so legit as to be a plausible explanation for a joke? Perhaps, or perhaps not.
UPDATE March 29, 2021 3:47 p.m. EST Automotive News has also confirmed the name change with an unnamed source, and also confirmed this is not an April Fool’s Joke. Though friend of the site Bozi Tatrevic pointed out Voltswagen has not been copyrighted. Which makes this whole Voltswagen thing smell to high heaven if you ask me.
The announcement was noticed by a USA Today reporter who was able to save it before VW wised up to its error. Still, I will continue to take this report with a grain of salt as unnamed sources might just be fucking with USA Today, which sounds both like a fun and good use of time. It also sounds like the Voltswagen name might be applied only to the company’s EVs. Considering VW has promised 70 new EVs by 2030 with a goal of building 26 million EVs in the next nine years, that could be quite a lot of cars with the goofy new name.
Here’s more from the announcement snagged by the reporter:
In the errantly published news release, the automaker said that “more than a name change, ‘Voltswagen’ is a public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility.”
“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,” the automaker said in the release.
According to the announcement, electric models would get an exterior badge with the name “Voltswagen,” while gas-powered vehicles will have the standard “VW” badge. It was not immediately clear Monday whether any details of the plan are still subject to change.
“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,” VW of America CEO Scott Keogh said in the news release.
This seems like a ham-fisted attempt to get folks to forget about the Dieselgate scandal. But what’s in a name? That which cheats emissions, by any other name, would pollute just as much. Also, despite the hefty fines levied on the company following the emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen didn’t really suffer in sales. Heck, I ran out and bought one as soon as I could. In many American minds, Volkswagen’s good name seems to remain intact.
It may be that this change is just for the U.S., but who can say? Just VW of America, and it is not talking (though we have reached out). As someone from the Midwest, I already pronounce it “Voltswagen” anyway. Maybe VW of America just decided it was time to catch up with American culture.