A false news, released on April 1, is just another innocent lie that apologizes for the tradition of deceiving the partner on the day of April Fools. However, if the same lie is disclosed three days earlier, through institutional channels, it is a bad joke that can cause reputational and financial damage. And that is exactly what Volkswagen did.
The North American representative of the destinations of the German Volkswagen AG (or VW Group), announced on 29 March that he intended to change his corporate name. Instead of Volkswagen of America, it would be called Voltswagen of America, an exchange of K for T that would aim to call attention to the decided movement towards electric mobility that the German group embraced and in which it invested much more than any of its members. direct rivals. The news that put VW to materialize in this way the bet on electric vehicles was credible, since it was in line with what Hyundai had revealed months before, when it announced the creation of a sub-brand for its electric vehicles, Ioniq.
Volkswagen of America announced the name change via Twitter and American journalists quickly contacted the company to make sure that there was no possibility of an anticipation of April 1, advancing only with the news after confirmation. The novelty went around the world and the stock price reacted immediately, rising from € 224 to € 240 in just two days, which made VW’s value exceed 140 billion euros, a real record.
On March 31, on the eve of April Fools’ Day, Volkswagen of America succumbed to the pressure and admitted that the whole story around the Voltswagen was not true and was just an early April lie, which in practical terms allowed it to be characterized somewhere between a blatant lie or false news, concepts that a serious company like the German group must flee to seven feet.
Reactions were not made to wait and all the turmoil that Volkswagen benefited for about 48 hours, from applause to the bet on electrification and the consequent rise in share prices, quickly turned into violent criticism, associating this lie with the one of 2015, when this same group was caught (and heavily punished) for lying in the Dieselgate case.
But in addition to becoming part of public opinion against it, Volkswagen of America came under the scrutiny of the American CMVM (the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC). The regulator was not pleased to learn that the Voltswagen was just a marketing ploy to draw attention to the German manufacturer’s electric vehicles, just as the new VW ID.4 hits the American market. As the SEC concluded that the false announcement caused the stock price to skyrocket – Wall Street analysts advised the purchase after the builder’s announcement – the regulator will now scrutinize Volkswagen’s actions, since “it is forbidden (and severely penalized) for listed companies to make false statements or mislead investors ”. Just remember the 20 million fine that the SEC inflicted on Elon Musk and Tesla in 2018, when the former announced on Twitter that it had brought investors together to make Tesla private, which caused the value of the bonds to skyrocket, and then failed to materialize. your promise.
Get the latest news delivered to your inbox
Follow us on social media networks