Published on April 30th, 2021 | by Subhash Nair0
“Voltswagen” April Fools Joke Backfires, VW Under Investigation
Volkswagen Group of America announced the company would change its name to “Voltswagen” on April 1, now the SEC investigates.
Volkswagen are no strangers to investigations from regulators. In fact, they’re pretty familiar with each other in the United States, where the diesel emissions scandal first unravelled. Now, there’s a new investigation being carried out. It’s not quite as serious as dieselgate, but it’s a Volkswagen scandal nonetheless.
For April Fools this year, Volskwagen Group of America thought it would be a bit of fun to issue a press release announcing the company would be changing its name to “Voltswagen” to signal a serious push into electric vehicles. It was apparent to us that this was some sort of poorly coordinated joke, which was why we didn’t run it. In fact, we chose not to run any car company’s April Fools jokes this year. Just didn’t seem to be appropriate during a pandemic.
Anyway, in the US and many other countries, news of the new “Voltswagen” name was taken very seriously. Many automotive outlets saw the tone of the press release as nothing but sombre. The fact that it was published in March and left on the website for a while was even more of a reason to take it seriously. They even changed logos and had a social media campaign. When media companies reached out to Volkswagen PR reps, they got confirmation that the name change was true.
It felt real. So the news was spread and that’s where things started to get serious.
What happened was the stock market reacted to the news in a positive way. While the joke was unfolding, VW’s stock price in the US climbed by as much as 12.5%. When it was revealed that it was indeed a prank, the American Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) started their investigation, according to Der Spiegel. They’re now investigating the company to see just how far this little stunt affected their stock prices.
Volkswagen never apologised about the prank. They issued this tweet instead.
We wonder why the company was so eager to let out fake news when it was still working on rebuilding the trust of its customers…