In what came as a shock, Volkswagen renamed themselves to Voltswagen in the North American market as an April Fools’ Day joke. However, according to a new Der Spiegel report, it seems that the stunt has drawn the eye of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The agency has opened an investigation into the automaker to determine if VW’s poorly executed joke announcement of changing its name has affected the stock price.
Though details are scarce at the moment, the automaker did confirm to the German publication that the SEC had requested information from its subsidiary, Volkswagen Group of America (VWoA), and it is cooperating with the authorities. The debacle started a few days before April 1 when VW “accidentally” published a press release announcing a name change. On March 30, the automaker changed its logos, updated its social media with the new name, and issuing a genuine press release about the change, which included comments from VWoA's President and CEO Scott Keogh. However, VW issued a non-apology about the PR stunt the next day, though the damage had been done by then. The automaker’s joke confused many news outlets, which proceeded to publish the story as fact. Following this, VW’s stock price climbed 12.5% before correcting the record.
The joke was a bold move for a manufacturer focusing on electrification after landing itself in hot water with consumers regulators due to the Dieselgate scandal, costing the company billions of dollars in fines. VW has put a lot of development and effort behind its ID line of electric vehicles and deliveries of the ID.4 just starting last month. The Voltswagen name could have worked as a joke if VW had used a different method, but instead, it has led to US regulators investigating the manufacturer.
The ID.4 is the first vehicle from the Volkswagen new ID electric vehicle lineup. It comes with a 77kWh battery that powers a single rear-mounted motor producing 204 PS and 310 Nm of peak power and torque. The newly-launched ID.4 GTX gets a dual-motor setup, one in each axle, for an increased power output of 302 PS. Claimed range for the normal ID.4 is 418 kilometres, so expect the GTX’s range to be a bit lower.