'Voltswagen' Was a Joke, and Journalists Aren't Happy

Volkswagen comes clean
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2021 1:28 AM CDT
'Voltswagen' Was a Joke After All
The company logo adorns the tailgate of an unsold 2021 Tiguan sports-utility vehicle at a Volkswagen dealership Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Lakewood, Colo.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Er, scratch that: Turns out that "Voltswagen" story actually was an April Fool's joke. Volkswagen of America went all-in on the prank, in which the president and CEO of the carmaker's US business was quoted in a (fake) press release as saying Volkswagen of America would be rebranded as Voltswagen of America to signify the company's move toward electric vehicles. Turns out the hoax was accidentally leaked to the press a couple days early, the BBC reports. Though some continued to doubt the veracity of the news despite Volkswagen's insistence (at first) that it was not a prank, many media outlets reported it, leading outlets like the AP to be forced to issue a correction. Stock prices for VW went up after the (false) news came out, and some say US securities regulators could get involved.

In a separate article, the AP notes that while journalists are wary of April Fool's Day hoaxes, few would expect one to come from a multi-billion dollar corporation. It was only after the Wall Street Journal reached a spokesperson for the parent company in Germany that the truth came out. "This and any deliberate release of false information hurts accurate journalism and the public good," an AP spokesperson says. Adds the USA Today reporter who was duped, "In case you haven't noticed, we have a misinformation problem in this country. Now you're part of it. Why should anyone trust you again?" "We didn’t mean to mislead anyone," says a VW rep, explaining that the joke was simply intended to get people talking about VW's first all-electric sport-utility vehicle. (Read more Volkswagen stories.)

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