The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the USA is said to be investigating an April Fool’s joke… and that’s no joke.
On March 29, after a days of rumours and an odd incomplete press release on the company’s website, Volkswagen of America announced it would change its name to Voltswagen in the States.
Electric vehicles would carry VW and Voltswagen branding, while petrol-powered cars would only have VW logos affixed.
Unlike most — if not all — April Fools’ Day press releases which start out with a serious tone and believable premise before escalating into farce or wishing you a happy day, Volkswagen played it straight.
The press release included a quote from the company’s US CEO, Scott Keogh, confirming the change, and sources told US journalists this change was real. The company’s US site also changed many references from Volkswagen to Voltswagen.
The ruse fooled many outlets, including trade publication Automotive News, into publishing the story as fact.
Volkswagen’s share price spiked 10 per cent on the back of the “news”.
It wasn’t until several hours later Volkswagen of America owned up to Voltswagen being an elaborate (early) April Fools joke designed by its marketing firm to promote the new ID.4 electric crossover.
It’s not the first time the SEC has investigated Volkswagen in recent years, with the commission claiming Volkswagen raised bonds at favourable rates even though it knew it was cheating emissions tests for its most popular diesel engines.
The SEC also took Tesla to task when CEO Elon Musk tweeted in August 2018: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”
It was later revealed Musk had only engaged in preliminary discussions with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and Tesla abandoned the idea by the end of month.