VW confirms contentious Voltswagen name change in US [Update: No]

Volkswagen has confirmed it's rebranding in the US, dashing hopes that the new "Voltswagen of America" name was an early – and odd – April Fools joke. The new name – which will only apply to VW's automotive business in the US, not the larger automaker group – is intended to underscore Volkswagen's commitment to electrification, and "a public declaration of the company's future-forward investment in e-mobility."

Talk of the change began yesterday, after Volkswagen published and then quickly deleted a press release about the new branding. That wasn't fast enough to stop news from spreading, though many assumed this could well be a joke prepared ahead of April 1st. VW's unwillingness to comment on the record about it only increased the confusion, though insiders claimed that it was, indeed, a legitimate business change.

Now, VW has gone on record with the change in plan. "The idea of a 'people's car' is the very fabric of our being," Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Voltswagen of America, said today. "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."

It comes as VW launches the 2021 ID.4 in the US, the first of its vehicles on the MEB all-electric platform to be available in the region. An EV crossover, the ID.4 is only the first of what's expected to be a huge gush of zero-emissions models over the next decade. Volkswagen Group has said it aims to sell a million such vehicles worldwide by 2025, with over 70 EVs on the roadmap across its various brands expected to launch by 2029.

It's not the first automaker to update its brand identify with electrification in mind. Earlier this year, General Motors announced it was updating its GM logo with a new, electric-blue version, as a nod to its Ultium platform for EVs. However, that logo isn't actually going to appear on vehicles.

Voltswagen, in contrast, will be much more in-your-face. "The tone of Voltswagen will be a consistent thread between the branded communications for our growing electric fleet to our gas vehicles," Kimberley Gardiner, senior vice president, Voltswagen of America brand marketing, explains. "Over the course of the next few months, you will see the brand transition at all consumer touch points."

The VW Dark Blue logo will remain for VW's gas-powered models, while Light Blue will be used for EV models. Voltswagen badging will also be used on all VW EVs in the US; gas cars will stick with the VW emblem only. Dealers, online sites, and other services will be rebranding over the coming months, with the transition expected to begin in earnest in May 2021. Whether owners and potential-owners respond positively to it remains to be seen.

Update: In a dashing and almost impressive show of stretching an already unfunny joke and then doubling-down on it, this whole thing appears to have been a poor April Fools joke by VW. The automaker isn't, in fact, intending to change its name; according to Reuters' sources, it plans to issue a press release tomorrow that confirms the joke.Update 2: VW has confirmed that this was a very odd April Fool's joke (strange not least because they tried it in March, not April).