Volkswagen Apparently Played Us and Everyone Else

volkswagen apparently played us and everyone else

Late yesterday, news dropped that Volkswagen planned to change its name to Voltswagen. A lot of automotive journalists noted the date and called out the announcement as a premature April’s Fool prank, but further reporting seemed to confirm that the name change was indeed real.

Turns out that it really is an April Fool’s prank gone awry.

According to Mike Wayland at CNBC, here’s how it all went down: The unfinished press release leaked yesterday, and when reporters at several outlets, including CNBC, contacted VW, they were told the plans were real and not a prank.

Wayland says that sources within the company seemingly lied to the reporters who were making inquiries. He further reports that VW will release a statement tomorrow clarifying it was all a joke.

Now, there are old journalism maxims that cover this sort of scenario — “trust but verify” and “if your mother says she loves you, check it out” — but they don’t really apply so easily if you can’t source documentation or other means to prove/disprove a source’s claims. In other words, the reporters who queried VW were at the mercy of their sources, and when those sources lied, the press had no way to tell.

We, too, got played — Matt wrote a wonderful screed about the supposed change, and I asked you folks just this morning if VW was hurting EV adoption with this idea.

No one likes being fooled — and may I note we’re still 48 hours away from the actual April Fool’s Day — so I went back and re-read the press release. Typically, OEMs insert some sort of language as a tell when they write up a fake release, unless the gag is so absurd as to be obvious. The telling language is usually a subtle way of saying “we’re just joking” to any journalist who hasn’t yet had enough caffeine to process a prank. Oft times, it’s a reference to check the date.

This release, however, scans as straightforward. The quotes sound real. The date is March 30, 2021. Nothing about it signals a joke.

Intentionally or not, Volkswagen fooled a lot of people. I am not mad, but I am also not impressed — either VW really did want to change the name and is using April Fool’s as an excuse to back down from a truly dumb idea, or it was a prank all along and handled in the most ham-handed manner. Neither is a good look.

For now, though, it appears the company isn’t changing the name to Voltswagen. We’ll see what fresh twist the saga brings tomorrow.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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  • Kendahl Kendahl on Mar 31, 2021

    There are two ways GM could go. One is to differentiate the three brands by price. Cadillac expensive and luxurious. Chevy low priced and plain but adequate. Buick in between. The other is to give each brand a specific mission even if there is overlap in price. Cadillac would be the luxury brand. Chevy the basic transportation brand. Buick (should have been Pontiac or Oldsmobile) the performance brand. Either way, make GMC the truck and full size SUV brand.

  • Akear Akear on Mar 31, 2021

    VW is still apparently the worlds number two car maker. They can get away with anything. It kind of reminds me of the arrogance of GM 50 years ago.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?