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Volkswagen said a press release that claimed the German auto giant was rebranding its US division as “Voltswagen of America” was just a joke.
Dated March 29, the release was quickly taken down from the company’s site on Monday after CNBC reported on the name change, which is a pun meant to emphasize the German automaker’s electric vehicle push.
A Volkswagen insider confirmed to the outlet the authenticity of the release, which called the name change a “public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility.”
By midday Tuesday, however, officials at VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, told The Wall Street Journal that the press release and name change were merely a marketing spoof to raise awareness about the company’s first all-electric sport utility vehicle, the ID.4, which went on sale in the US this month.
“It’s a premature April Fools’ joke. It’s part of a marketing campaign for the ID.4,” one official told the publication. “There will be no name change.”
When The Post reached out to confirm the authenticity of CNBC’s report on Monday, VW’s German office referred questions to the US division, which in turn declined to comment.
Adding to the confusion, the rogue press release, which had been taken down from VW’s US media relations site on Monday, was reposted early on Tuesday with a new date of March 30 despite the pushback from headquarters.
Reps in Germany and the US didn’t immediately respond to The Post’s requests for comment on Tuesday.
Shares of the automaker were recently up 9.4 percent at $34.90 in midday trading Tuesday following reports that the “Voltswagen” rebranding wasn’t happening, after all.
The release quoted Scott Keogh, president and chief executive of Voltswagen of America, saying: “We might be changing out our K for a T, but what we aren’t changing is this brand’s commitment to making best-in-class vehicles for drivers and people everywhere.”
The Journal reported that on Tuesday Keogh’s Twitter account pushed the new name again despite widening confusion over the Monday press release.
Volkswagen has been making a strong push into the electric car space. Earlier this month, the automaker held a “Power Day” to discuss its EV technologies.
The company also announced goals of significantly increasing sales of EVs through the end of the decade, adding that it expects more than 70 percent of its Volkswagen brand’s European sales to be EV’s by 2030. That’s a massive increase from its previous target of 35 percent. In the US and China, the company expects half of its sales to be EVs by that timeframe.
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