Volkswagen America being investigated over ‘Voltswagen’ stunt

Authorities to determine whether the April Fool's Day joke-gone-wrong misled investors after stock prices soared at the time

2021 VW Voltswagen SEC investigation

Talking points

  • Volkswagen Group of America being investigated by the SEC
  • Authorities probing whether 'Voltswagen' April Fool's Day joke may have misled investors
  • Automaker under fire while still recovering from 'Dieselgate' scandal

Volkswagen’s American arm is being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over whether its April Fool's Day ‘Voltswagen’ prank misled investors.

According to Reuters, sources claim the investigation has been in the works since early April – although the SEC has refused to comment on its probe.

In late March, media reports across the globe began to report so-called leaked information that VW in the US would be changing its name to ‘Voltswagen’ later this year to emphasise its commitment to electric vehicles.

The following day, despite having just issued a statement from its American CEO perpetuating the stunt, it turned out to be an April Fools' joke.

At that time there was speculation the German marque could find itself in trouble with US regulators for misleading investors in the country because its stock price spiked in response on the day the bogus statement was officially issued.

Even though VW later did eventually admit it was a prank, it’s that stock price hike that is said to have sparked the SEC’s investigation. 

Court approves Volkswagen Dieselgate settlement in the US

Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh told Reuters in an interview last month that the name change was a "gag" designed to "have some humour” and "to celebrate our (VWs) profound focus on electrification."

There is no evidence to suggest at this point that the hoax name change was linked to foul play, but it's not the first time investors have responded in favour of automakers increasing electric vehicle production. Recent months have seen the value of shares of Tesla as well as of some EV start-ups soar.

The investigation comes at a time when the company is still trying to repair its image after the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal.

In 2015 Volkswagen admitted to using illegal software to cheat diesel emissions tests. 

Dieselgate: Volkswagen insists Aussies don’t deserve payouts

It is thought as many as 11 million vehicles worldwide were affected by the cheating software, and VW was slammed with more than 32 billion Euros worth of fines as a result.


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