Volkswagen’s American division appears poised to change its name to “Voltswagen,” switching the “k” to a “t” in a nod toward the automaker’s investment in electric vehicles.
The German automaker’s announcement on the change appeared briefly on its media site Monday before it was removed, having apparently been released before it was ready for an official rollout.
Volkswagen spokesperson Brendan Bradley declined to comment Monday.
But VW was not hacked, the announcement is not a joke, it’s not a marketing ploy and the plan is for the change to be made permanent, said a person familiar with the company’s plans on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The news release, which was dated April 29 when it was accidentally posted, was published March 29 before it was ready to be distributed, the person said. A USA TODAY reporter noticed the announcement on VW’s website and saved it before it was removed.
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In the errantly published news release, the automaker said that “more than a name change, ‘Voltswagen’ is a public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility.”
“The new name and branding symbolize the highly-charged forward momentum Voltswagen has put in motion, pursuing a goal of moving all people point-to-point with EVs,” the automaker said in the release.
According to the announcement, electric models would get an exterior badge with the name “Voltswagen,” while gas-powered vehicles will have the standard “VW” badge. It was not immediately clear Monday whether any details of the plan are still subject to change.
The move would signal a significant pivot for the world’s second-largest automaker, whose U.S. division dates to 1955. It would also come after several competitors, including General Motors and Volvo, recently announced plans to eventually phase out gas vehicles.
“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,” VW of America CEO Scott Keogh said in the news release.
The change would also further distance VW from the diesel emissions scandal that sullied its reputation, harmed the environment, hurt public health and led to penalties of more than $30 billion as well as criminal charges.
The announcement would also coincide with the arrival of the brand-new Volkswagen ID.4, the automaker’s first long-range electric SUV sold in the U.S. It’s part of a new lineup of electric cars under the ID sub-brand, including the forthcoming revival of the VW microbus.
The company plans to launch more than 70 electric vehicles worldwide by 2029 and sell 1 million by 2025. VW and its related brands, including Audi and Porsche, sold more than 9 million vehicles of all kinds globally in 2020, making it a close second to Toyota, though it previously held the No. 1 title for several years.
While VW is known to many Americans as the maker of small vehicles like the Beetle car and the Passat sedan, the brand has pivoted in recent years toward larger models, investing heavily in SUVs like the midsize Tiguan and the three-row Atlas.
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