Volkswagen AG’s U.S. unit issued a fake news release alleging it would rename its U.S. operations as “Voltswagen of America” in a marketing stunt aimed at drawing attention to its electric vehicle efforts, the carmaker said.
Volkswagen came under fire on social media for its misleading news release, with some commentators recalling the company’s diesel emissions scandal and years of misleading regulators and customers.
The initial news release, published on its website and accompanied by tweets, was reported by Reuters and other news outlets globally and included a detailed description of its purported new logos and rebranding efforts.
The company pulled it late Tuesday.
“Volkswagen of America will not be changing its name to Voltswagen. The renaming was designed to be an announcement in the spirit of April Fool’s Day, highlighting the launch of the all-electric ID.4 SUV and signaling our commitment to bringing electric mobility to all,” a VW U.S. spokesman said in a statement.
“We will provide additional updates on this matter soon,” the spokesman added.
Volkswagen is expected to issue a fresh statement on the matter on Wednesday, a person familiar with the matter said.
A Volkswagen spokesman in Germany described the rebranding as a “nice idea” with a focus on marketing. Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh did not respond to messages.
“Apparently no one in the approval process at @VW said, hey maybe we shouldn’t lie to the press given the whole, you know, emissions lying thing,” Dawn Kopecki, senior editor for CNBC.com, said on Twitter.
At least one analyst wrote a research note lauding the name change. VW’s preferred shares were flat on Wednesday after closed 4.7% higher on Tuesday.
The world’s second-largest carmaker expects to double electric vehicle deliveries and bolster profits for its core brand this year after ramping up its switch to fully electric vehicles.
The Volkswagen brand aims to invest 16 billion euros ($19 billion) in electrification and digitalization by 2025. It has committed to sell one million EVs worldwide by 2025.