German auto giant Volkswagen Group plans to change its trade name in the United States to 'Voltswagen' as it increasingly focuses its production on electric vehicles and tries to distance itself from a scandal over a deception in the measurement of emissions of its vehicles.
The company is scheduled to make the official announcement on Tuesday, according to a person, who asked to speak on condition of anonymity because the plans have not been made public.
The company briefly posted a statement on its website early Monday announcing the name change. The statement was withdrawn later, but it had made it to several publications by then.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen is accepting bookings for the new ID.4 electric SUV in the United States. It is the company's only new electric model for sale in the country, although there are plans for more, including a nostalgic reissue of the company's Microbus.
Even with the ID.4 for sale, only a small fraction of Volkswagens on American roads will carry the 'Voltswagen' name. The majority of the company's vehicle sales in the United States in the near future will continue to be gasoline-powered and will continue to be branded Volkswagen. Last year, the German automaker sold just under 326,000 Volkswagen-branded vehicles in the United States.
The person familiar with the plan said the Volkswagen Group of America name, which also includes the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini brands, will not change. Rather, only the "K" in the Volkswagen brand will be changed to a "T".
Electric vehicles will carry an exterior badge with the name 'Voltswagen', while gasoline vehicles will still have the usual 'VW' but no trade names, the source added.
The statement further noted that the action amounted to a public declaration of the company's future investment in electric vehicles.
VW has been trying to clean up its image after US authorities discovered in 2015 that its so-called "clean" diesel vehicles cheated in emissions tests. Vehicles activated pollution controls during Environmental Protection Agency tests, then turned them off during use on the streets.
Volkswagen pleaded guilty in 2017 and agreed to pay $ 4.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties, as well as billions of dollars more to buy back the cars. Two people ended up in jail.