Taking Volkswagen to
Task for Its April Fools Prank
It happens every year. One or two or sometimes more
companies let their PR folks’ creative juices loose on a gag press release sent
on April 1. Some get a chuckle; many more a groan. The auto industry is not
known as a second career for comedy writers.
Volkswagen took April Fools Day to a new level this year with a convoluted plan to announce a name change to VOLTSWAGEN to highlight its new ID.4 battery electric crossover and the corporate commitment to EVs. Except the announcement “leaked” early, was confirmed as news—or was it?—and then, finally, the overlords from Wolfsburg called time-out on the game and said it was all an innocent joke. And we hadn’t even made it to April 1.
Insert confused, sad emoji here.
What’s sad to me is not that VW’s staff tried to pull off a clever scheme to garner attention for its electric efforts, but that they didn’t have some real news to play off of. I’ve spent a few days in the ID.4 as have many of my colleagues and collaborators. It’s a serious EV, enough to make the name change almost credible—until you realize we’re talking about a German corporation that is one of largest auto companies in the world. Also not known for its humor.
Maybe the attention was worth it. I initially found it a little strained because it came off to me as counterintuitive for a company that didn’t bring its first new electric model, the Golf-sized ID.3, to the U.S. and also recently announced that the iconic ID.Buzz would be delayed coming to these shores.
What About Real News?
The VW fake news pales even more in light of announcements
from VW’s competitors during the past few weeks.
- Jeep showed off an electric Wrangler and
announced it was adding charging stations at trailheads.
- Kia showed off its coming EV6 that ups the
design game for an electric crossover.
- Lexus revealed a concept electric crossover, the
LF-Z, that looks ready to kick that division down the EV pathway.
- Genesis introduced an all-electric grand tourer
concept that also appears ready to produce.
- Rivian announced plans to launch its own
- Mercedes showed off the interior of its sleek
new EQS flagship electric sedan.
- Canoo showed off a clever electric pickup that
it says will be produced in a couple years.
- Mini and Volvo both committed to going
all-electric within a decade.
- Honda confirmed it will sell two electric SUVs
based on GM’s Ultium platform by 2024.
- Stellantis even showed off a fuel cell electric
delivery van that will be on the European market later this year.
- Lucid offered a video showing Lucid Airs under
construction at its Arizona plant.
All these news items and not an attempted joke among them.