Volkswagen of America is under heavy criticism by multiple news outlets for putting out a false press release regarding their electric cars that was initially believed to be true.
The company’s spokesperson, Mark Giles, told the Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday a statement that was mass e-mailed to reporters was an attempt at a pre-April Fools Day joke and to promote the company’s new line of electric-powered cars.
The release was leaked Monday and then forwarded via email to several news outlets, including USA Today and the Washington Post, AP reported.
Nathan Bromley, the USA Today reporter who initially reported on the story, blasted Volkswagen on Twitter, adding that the company was now part of America’s “misinformation problem.”
Dear Volkswagen: You lied to me. You lied to AP, CNBC, Reuters and various trade pubs. This was not a joke. It was deception. In case you hadn’t noticed, we have a misinformation problem in this country. Now you’re part of it. Why should anyone trust you again? https://t.co/1rcKT7p0u5
— Nathan Bomey (@NathanBomey) March 30, 2021
The Daily Caller had previously reported on the name change Tuesday, citing a USA Today report regarding the initial release.
The company doubled down on Tuesday by putting out a tweet endorsing and confirming the name change, but admitted to the falsehood to the Wall Street Journal, AP reported.
We know, 66 is an unusual age to change your name, but we’ve always been young at heart. Introducing Voltswagen. Similar to Volkswagen, but with a renewed focus on electric driving. Starting with our all-new, all-electric SUV the ID.4 – available today. #Voltswagen #ID4 pic.twitter.com/pKQKlZDCQ7
— Volkswagen (@VW) March 30, 2021
“The company used this fake announcement as a way to manipulate respected reporters from trusted news outlets to get attention for their marketing campaign,” USA Today spokeswoman Chrissy Terrell told AP. (RELATED: Soap Manufacturer To Remove The Word ‘Normal’ From Products Because It ‘Excluded’ People)
Juleanna Glover, the founder of consultant firm Ridgely Walsh, told AP the company likely made “millions of dollars” from the release, and was sure Volkswagen “regrets the move for now” and would find a way to “capitalize on the word-play.”
The company’s stock price initially increased as a result of the news, leading to accusations of stock price manipulation, AP reported. It is unclear if the Securities and Exchange Commission will launch an investigation.