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Voltswagen: Who's the Fool?

If you haven't heard, Volkswagen announced they're changing their name in the North American market to Voltswagen. Well, I'm not so sure they "announced" this rather big piece of news seeing as the press release was accidentally posted to their media site prematurely, but regardless, they've now officially stated they're dropping the "k" and juicing up their name with a "t" to signal their commitment to electric vehicles. Hmmm.

Now we all know for a few years now auto manufacturers have rolled out fake April Fool's Day press releases that range from cute to cringey, and VW's timing on this one seems suspect: is this reality, or just a big nothing? Did they biff this legit announcement, or are we all just playing into their spring shenanigans? Who's the fool here: Us or them?

We're the fool: Those wacky guys really are changing their name

Here's the thing: if this is legit I think it may actually work. Why? Simple: VW's lack of brand recognition in the States. "VW's been here since 1955? How do people not know about them?" you may be asking. But here's the thing: most people, as in the average doesn't-care-about-cars-person, still think of tiny aircooled round little cars when they hear the company's name.

Try it: Tell your mom or your grandma or your uncle you bought a Volkswagen and see what they say. I'm betting you get "Bug" response in return. And that's a problem for Volkswagen. Or they think "Dieselgate" and that's an even bigger problem. Many people thought VW should rebrand after that debacle, and maybe they were just holding out for this moment.

Adopting a name that puts the connection to electric cars in your company's name makes a hell of a lot of sense. When someone says they drive a Tesla, everyone knows it's an EV. It's 100% part of their brand, and saying you drive a Voltswagen could do the very same thing for VW's brand. A simple switch in one letter makes it clear what the company is all about.

They're the fools: it's all just an absurd marketing stunt

Now there's a very good chance this is all for show. There are no trademark applications for "Voltswagen." There are no websites with that address either. If VW was serious about this change, one of the first steps in a brand change is ensuring you can make your new name legal. Hell, OEMs file for trademark protection for model names they're only considering using.

If this is all a ruse, well, it's silly, and it's working. The story has been picked up by all major auto publications (naturally) as well as major news outlets. It's getting them press, which is exactly the purpose. Bravo, VW PR department.

Either way, VW wins in my book. If it's real, they'll get press and potentially shake off images of quaint old round cars (not to mention Dieselgate), and if it's fake, they still got attention and press. Which is exactly what they need.


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