A few weeks ago I had a random thought popping in my head that wouldn’t it be cool of Volkswagen were to change its name to Voltswagen? Then a couple days ago, news popped up that Volkswagen of America had briefly posted a press release about just such a name change. Then, a day later they posted the press release for real, as we reported here yesterday. Namely, that Volkswagen is so determined to be a leader in electric vehicles, that it was changing its official name to Voltswagen.
This turns out to have been a … a “joke”? According to a statement sent to USA Today, the company “will not be changing its name to Voltswagen.” The statement went on to say “The renaming was designed to be an announcement in the spirit of April Fools’ Day, highlighting the launch of the all-electric ID.4 SUV and signaling our commitment to bringing electric mobility to all.”
To learn that Volkswagen lied in order to make its image look better is more than reminiscent of the Dieselgate scandal.
Dieselgate is one of the factors which pushed the Volkswagen Group to make a bigger push into electric electric vehicles. In that scandal, all VW TDI diesel cars after a certain model year were rigged to detect when the car was operating under test conditions. When tested, the engine would operate in a way that produced excellent emissions results. That enabled VW to make all kinds of huge claims about the clean green nature of their turbocharged diesel engines. VW was showered with accolades, green car awards, and government support in the form of green vehicle rebates.
But it was all a fraud in order to sell more cars.
In our report yesterday we noted that the VW.com home page had Voltswagen plastered all over it, such as this:
However, in the wake of Volkswagen of America’s media spokesperson admitting that yesterdays press release was a lie, the VW.com website now has this:
Notice the difference?
All other occurrences of Voltswagen have reverted to Volkswagen.
The Voltswagen press release is now missing from the VW.com newsroom. If things are right in the world, a member of Volkswagen of America’s marketing department is now looking for a new job.
For myself I resolve to respect hunches better. Yesterday, while preparing that article, I noticed that while the Voltswagen name was prominent on the home page, there were lots of places which still said Volkswagen. It was either that they hadn’t finished the renaming, and had a lot of things to change still, or that this was a big hoax. Bottom line I wasn’t 100% sold on the idea of Volkswagen changing its name, but the appeal of making such a change had me giving VW the benefit of the doubt.
This is the sort of marketing stunt that must backfire in a big way. Volkswagen got caught red handed lying through its teeth a few years ago, and faced huge fines as well as several executives facing jail time. You would think a company caught in such a big way would feel chastened and not commit further lies.
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