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Joking! Volkswagen Of America Will Not Become Voltswagen Of America

NOEL KING, HOST:

An apparent April Fools' joke in the world of automobiles went terribly wrong.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Like lots of car brands, Volkswagen is making an aggressive push to go electric.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: ...The world, the all-new, all-electric Volkswagen ID.4.

MARTIN: VW is planning to pivot entirely to making electric cars.

KING: And then on Tuesday, the company made a surprising announcement. Volkswagen said it would officially change its name to Voltswagen.

MARTIN: Volts - V-O-L-T-S - as in electric. VW's announcement to change its iconic name made headlines, but only for a few hours.

DAVID SHEPARDSON: Because that turned out not to be true. And ultimately, it was a silly joke, April Fools' prank.

KING: That's reporter David Shepardson. He covers transportation for Reuters. And he says VW's joke of changing its name to Voltswagen did not quite land. The announcement, for some reason, came two days before April Fools' Day.

MARTIN: But VW's detailed press release made the company's name change seem real. Shepardson says reporters were duped. News publications had to issue corrections.

SHEPARDSON: And again, we don't know exactly what happened. But we do know that the company was willing to let this intentionally misleading, you know, fake announcement hang out there for, really, close to two days.

KING: A spokesman for VW said the renaming joke was meant to show the company's, quote, "commitment to bringing electric mobility to all."

MARTIN: But Shepardson says the prank just reminds consumers of one of the biggest scandals in automotive history.

SHEPARDSON: I mean, it was only four years ago that the company pleaded guilty to three felonies in connection with its diesel emissions scandal, and admitted to misleading the EPA and customers for years to evade emissions standards and allow their vehicles to emit up to 40 times legally allowable levels. And this went on for years.

KING: That scandal cost VW more than $30 billion. And its push into electric vehicles is supposed to help restore the company's reputation.

MARTIN: And now this. So for the record, it is Volkswagen, not Voltswagen.

(SOUNDBITE OF EL TEN ELEVEN'S "I LIKE VAN HALEN BECAUSE MY SISTER SAYS THEY ARE COOL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.