Volkswagen's Name Change of U.S. Operations to ‘Voltswagen' Was April Fool's Marketing Prank

Ashlee Espinal | CNBC
  • German automaker Volkswagen will not be changing the name of its U.S. operations to "Voltswagen of America."
  • The announcement was meant as an April Fools' Day joke to raise awareness about the company's all-electric ID.4 SUV, a spokesperson said in a statement.
  • A source familiar with the plans said a follow-up announcement is expected from the company by Wednesday morning.

German automaker Volkswagen will not be changing the name of its U.S. operations to Voltswagen of America after all.

The news, which appeared to leak out on its U.S. media site Monday and was formally announced in a press release Tuesday, was part of an elaborate April Fools' Day joke, the company confirmed in a statement later Tuesday.

"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," said Mike Tolbert, VW's U.S.spokesman, in an emailed statement.

The company is expected to issue a follow-up announcement explaining the marketing strategy by Wednesday morning, a person familiar with the plans said.

The Wall Street Journal reported the prank earlier Tuesday, citing a Volkswagen spokesman in Wolfsburg.

An unfinished version of the initial press release went out briefly on VW's U.S. media newsroom website Monday morning before it was taken down. Media outlets, including CNBC, reported it as news after it was confirmed by unnamed sources within the company, who apparently lied to several reporters.

The release said the name change is expected to take effect in May and called the change a "public declaration of the company's future-forward investment in e-mobility." It said Voltswagen will be placed as an exterior badge on all EV models, with gas vehicles having the company's iconic VW emblem only.

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