Editor’s note: Volkswagen of America has retracted the statement upon which this report was based. A new story can be found here.
Volkswagen of America on Tuesday confirmed that it will use the brand name “Voltswagen” starting in May to differentiate its line of electric vehicles -- a day after the news was inadvertently leaked online.
It said Voltswagen will be placed as an exterior badge on all EV models, and gasoline vehicles will have the company’s iconic VW emblem only, as they now do. ICE-powered vehicles would display the VW logo on a dark blue background, while EVs would display the logo on a light blue background.
Exterior and interior signage will soon roll out to all Voltswagen properties and dealerships across the U.S.
The name change will cover all of the automaker’s U.S. operations, though the new Voltswagen of America would continue to remain an operating unit of the larger Volkswagen Group of America.
However, The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday cited company officials at VW Group’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, who insisted the press release and name change were nothing more than an April Fools’ Day joke. One of the people told the paper: "It’s part of a marketing campaign for the ID4. There will be no name change.”
In a statement published on the automaker's U.S. media website, the automaker called the change a “public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility.”
“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,” Scott Keogh, CEO of Voltswagen of America, said in the release. “The idea of a ‘people’s car’ is the very fabric of our being. We have said, from the beginning of our shift to an electric future, that we will build EVs for the millions, not just millionaires. This name change signifies a nod to our past as the peoples’ car and our firm belief that our future is in being the peoples’ electric car.”
The name change is not expected to carry upward to the parent company in Germany, Volkswagen Group. The brand will maintain its recently redesigned VW logo in both instances.
On Monday, media outlets including CNBC and USA Today reported the name change after confirming the information in a release that was made public and quickly taken down. A person familiar with the company's thinking also confirmed the decision with Automotive News on Monday.
VW began delivering its first battery-electric compact crossover, the ID4, to U.S. dealerships this month, and has launched an advertising campaign to market the vehicle. The ID4 is based on VW’s modular MEB electric platform.