Volkswagen, the German automaker, breathes new life into its business by focusing on electric vehicles and adopting a new name for its US operations: Voltswagen.
The rebranding will be implemented in May because of VW’s involvement in electricity transmission, the company announced on Tuesday. It will be preceded by the arrival this month of ID.4, the automaker’s first electric SUV, in dealerships across the country.
“The transition will take place in all consumer contact points over the next few months,” said Kimberley Gardiner, senior brand marketing vice president for Volkswagen of America. “This is an exciting time for us, and we worked hard across all channels to make the transition clear, consistent, seamless, and enjoyable for everyone.”
On Monday, an incomplete report was published on VW’s website before disappearing, prompting social media speculation about whether the naming change was a prank on April Fools’ Day. VW confirmed the change in a statement on Tuesday, saying that “Volts are derived from electricity potentials between two points,” and that the new name and brand “symbolise Voltswagen’s highly charged drive towards a forward-looking momentum, with the aim of moving everyone point-to-point with EVs.”
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According to CNBC, Volkswagen plans to make up 70% of its European sales and roughly half of its sales in the United States and China by 2030.
To preserve the brand’s heritage, the carmaker will use its classic dark blue VW logo for gas-powered vehicles, and light blue for electric vehicles with a “Voltswagen” external inscription.
“We may change our K to a T, but what we’re not changing here is this brand’s commitment to making world-class vehicles for drivers and people everywhere,” said Scott Keogh, President and CEO of Voltswagen of America. “The concept of a” people’s car “is woven into the very fabric of our being. At the outset of our transition to an electric future, we stated that we would build millions of electric vehicles, not just millionaires. This name change represents a nod to our past as a people’s vehicle and a firm belief that our future is the people’s electric car. “
The Biden administration has created significant headwinds for the growing electric vehicle industry. President Biden signed an executive order in January that included plans to fully electrify the federal vehicle fleet and install hundreds of thousands of charging stations across the country.
Other automakers are also doubling down on EVs. General Motors announced in January that it would discontinue production of gasoline-powered passenger cars, vans, and SUVs by 2035. Jaguar announced in February that all electric vehicles will be fired by 2025, and Volvo announced earlier this month that it will phase out domestic combustion vehicles by 2030.
In a February research note, Dan Ives, CEO of Wedbush Securities Equity Research, wrote, “A golden era of EV is on the horizon.”
While Volkswagen’s emphasis on greener vehicles is emphasised in the rebranding, the automaker is embroiled in a massive emissions scandal. In September 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that Volkswagen had tampered with a million diesel cars by installing cheating devices that allowed them to test for low emissions even though the output was 40 times the legally permitted limit.
Volkswagen paid $14.7 billion to settle shareholder claims in one of the largest class-action settlements in American history in June 2016. After pleading guilty, Volkswagen paid $4,3 billion in criminal and civil fines in a case brought by the US Department of Justice in January 2017. According to executives, the scandal cost the German automaker more than 31 billion euros in fines and payments (more than $34.6 billion).
“The refreshment is important for consumers to think of Volkswagen as a sustainable company that crosses borders in electric vehicles — an area with high growth potential,” said Neil Saunders, Managing Director at New York-based Global Data Retail, in an email to The Washington Post. “The Volkswagen brand’s emissions scandal is probably also recognised, and this move will help to dissipate it.”
Volkswagen of America, based in Herndon, Virginia, is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest car manufacturer. The first thing it captured was American consumers’ fascination with the Beetle, which eventually surpassed the Ford Model T as the world’s best-selling car. The parent company’s name translates to “people’s car.”