No, it’s not an April Fools Day prank – yes, it was an April Fools Day prank, as the global motoring industry suspected all along.
Volkswagen had issued a news release and tweet publicly announcing it had a new name for its electric vehicle (EV) division in the United States: Voltswagen of America.
The company reversed course later that day, saying that the rebranding announcement was, in fact, a stunt to gin up interest in its electric vehicle strategy and the imminent arrival of its first long-range electric SUV.
“There will be no renaming of Volkswagen of America,” Volkswagen spokesman Mark Gillies said in a statement. “The alleged 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.”
This was how VW sold the rebranding story: The rebrand, meant to represent the carmaker’s commitment to EV transportation, will take effect next month, days after the launch in the US of the ID.4, its first, long-range electric SUV.
“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,” Scott Keogh, president and chief executive of Voltswagen of America, said in a statement.
“The idea of a ‘people’s car’ is the very fabric of our being. We have said, from the beginning of our shift to an electric future, that we will build EVs for the millions, not just millionaires.
“This name change signifies a nod to our past as the peoples’ car and our firm belief that our future is in being the peoples’ electric car.”
VW noted that “Volts are the derived units for electric potential between two points” and said that the new name and branding “symbolise the highly charged forward momentum Voltswagen has put in motion, pursuing a goal of moving all people point-to-point with EVs.”
By 2030, Volkswagen expects electric vehicles to make up 70 per cent of its European sales and roughly half of its sales in the US and China.
To preserve the brand’s heritage, the carmaker will keep using its classic, dark blue VW logo for petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles and use light blue for electric ones, which will also bear a “Voltswagen” exterior badge.
US President Biden signed an executive order in January that included plans to make America’s federal vehicle fleet entirely electric and install hundreds of thousands of charging stations across the country.