Volkswagen Apparently Played Us and Everyone Else

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
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.

  • ToolGuy T E L L U R I D E is not on this list(I can keep my poster on the wall)
  • ToolGuy My impression is that Honda has been coasting on its reputation for awhile now.(To Honda's credit, they aren't standing on the Self Destruct button like Toyota seems to be)
  • Fred I owned a 2001 MR2 for 15 years nothing ever went wrong with the vehicle. It was always exciting to drive most people thought it was a boxster. The only negative was storage and legroom considering I'm a little over 6:4 the only reason it was sold was as a second car and a grandchild on the way we needed something more practical.
  • V16 I'm sure most people could find 155,365 reasons to choose another luxury brand SUV and pocket the difference.
  • ChristianWimmer I don’t want this autonomous driving garbage technology in any car.My main fear is this. Once this technology is perfected, freedom-hating eco hysterical governments (crap hole Germany, UK and the European Union in general) will attempt to ban private car ownership because “you don’t need to own a car anymore since the car can come to you, drop you off and then proceed to service the next customer”... no thanks. Having your own car is FREEDOM.Go away, autonomous driving. I also enjoy the act of driving a car. I want to drive, not be driven.