from-doubts-to-duped:-we-won’t-be-fooled-again

We were duped.

Yes, we had our doubts when we saw the report about a Volkswagen press release that had briefly surfaced online. Yes, April Fools’ Day was the first thing that crossed our minds, even though it was March 29.

And yes, we called VW to find out what was going on.

And whether you say we were lied to or willfully misdirected from there, for more than a day we told you online that Volkswagen was changing its name to Voltswagen in the U.S.

We are still wiping off the egg from our face. As are some other journalists with integrity who cover the auto industry.

VW now says it was all a joke, part of a multiday campaign to draw attention to its commitment to electrification.

Yes, some of this is inside baseball. The sometimes-tense, sometimes-cozy relations between journalists and the institutions they cover matter little to the audiences that the media are supposed to serve.

But believe me, the companies we write about let us know when they think any of our reporting or commentary is wrong.

In this case, VW fabricated a very plausible tale (it had already used the name elsewhere), dressed it in a formal statement and posted it with zero indication that it was in any way a joke or was not real.

The result: VW spent our and other media’s credibility to amplify their efforts to get a new EV noticed.

Afterward, Volkswagen took a victory lap in public, citing the positive buzz. “Whether it’s Voltswagen or Volkswagen, people talking about electric driving … can only be a good thing.”

For us, it’s anything but a victory. And it will prompt a thorough review of the conditions that allowed our lapse to happen.

Our dealer readers tell us they rely on Automotive News more than any other source for information about the industry — by far.

We take that responsibility seriously. Especially in a time when there’s so much distrust of the media. It has kept us from following dubious journalistic paths that some of our media peers have followed over the years.

Our job in this case was to see past VW’s ruse.

We failed to do that. And in that failure we failed you.