UPDATE: After this original post ran, VW admitted that the "Voltswagen" rebranding was a marketing stunt -- even after telling several major news organizations that it was truly happening, and issuing a press release. An explanation of what happened can be found here.
The original story appears below, but is no longer true. Disregard.
Earlier today, reports came out from CNBC and USA Today that Volkswagen would be rolling out some new branding under the name Voltswagen. It was all detailed in a leaked press release. Considering our proximity to April Fool's Day, a day when many automakers publish silly news announcements, we figured that was the case. Well, we've received word from a source at the company that indicates VW really is going to start badging its electric cars as Voltswagens, and a number of other outlets have received confirmation from sources inside VW, too.
The Associated Press reports that a formal announcement is coming tomorrow.
According to CNBC, the new brand name will apply mainly to the company's electric cars, which will feature a badge that says "Voltswagen." They will also get a variant of the main VW badge with a light blue background, rather than dark blue for the internal-combustion cars. The internal-combustion cars will simply continue to get the VW brand and model name.
“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,” VW of America CEO Scott Keogh said in the errant release.
The new name will apparently be applied exclusively in the U.S., where Voltswagen of America will be part of the Volkswagen Group of America, which also includes Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini U.S. sales, and is part of the overall Volkswagen AG headquartered in Germany.
It's easy to see why a lot of outlets today thought this might be an April Fool's joke. Sure, it's a cute pun that might be great for an ad campaign, but it presents a few problems with actual branding. For one thing, VW already had a designation for its electric cars: the "ID" prefix. The company has even been using it for years on its electric concepts back to the ID.Buzz minivan. Now, VW will be doubling down on electric identifiers or, put another way, spending time on two schemes that are essentially redundant.
Only one electric VW is on sale in the U.S. so far, the ID.4, and it's only the second production VW EV ever offered here. There are more EVs coming, including a remake of the Type 2 bus, but VW is going to be selling Tiguans, Atlases, Taoses, Jettas and GTIs for several years, or more, to come. And then, when VW eventually goes all-electric and the notion isn't so novel, will the company go back to Volkswagen, instead of Voltswagen?
In this, VW would also be abandoning a nameplate with heritage. Sure, there are some very dark aspects to Volkswagen's history, but there's a lot of positive, too, and a lot of people that love Volkswagens, not necessarily Voltswagens. Sounds like we'll learn more tomorrow.
Let us know what you think in the comments.
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