Volkswagen’s share price fell today after the American arm of the company issued a false announcement claiming it was changing its name to ‘Voltswagen of America’.
The stunt, which came just ahead of April Fool’s Day, was meant to call attention to its electric vehicle efforts.
But the joke fell flat on social media, with some commentators recalling the company’s diesel-emissions scandal and years of misleading customers and regulators.
The move also caused mass confusion. The initial statement outlining the name change, posted on its website and accompanied by tweets, was reported by Reuters and other outlets globally and included a detailed description of its purported rebranding efforts and new logos.
Volkswagen was forced to abandon the stunt late on Tuesday.
Today Volkswagen’s share price dipped 1.6 per cent by mid-morning, with the company apparently avoiding a mass sell-off in the wake of the car crash joke.
This morning CNN Business reported the joke could land the car manufacturer in trouble, as it had risked “wading into the murky waters of potentially misleading investors.”
According to CNN, confusion over the name change could prompt scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission or litigation from investors who feel misled by the joke.
Volkswagen’s American arm has since apologised for the stunt, acknowledging it had “upset some people and we are sorry about any confusion this has caused”.
“The renaming was designed to be an announcement in the spirit of April Fool’s Day, highlighting the launch of the all-electric ID.4 SUV and signaling our commitment to bringing electric mobility to all,” a VW U.S. spokesman said.
Volkswagen, the world’s second-largest carmaker, expects to double electric vehicle deliveries and boost profits for its core brand this year after stepping up its switch to fully electric vehicles in a bid to catch up with Tesla.