April Fool’s! 6 times Tesla and others were a little too convincing

Credit: JC

April Fool’s Day has come another year, and with it, a handful of fake headlines and statements ready to make fools of us all. Whether it took you a while to remember to watch for trolls today or you’ve become hardened and on-guard for the holiday, we’re looking back at some times when Tesla and others were, perhaps, a little too convincing for their own good.

Tesla has had a long history of making April Fool’s jokes, not unlike many before it in the tech automotive industries. As electric vehicles (EVs) from Tesla and others have become more popular, so too have the cultures of trolling, memes, and general online silliness continued to grow.

Elon Musk turns “Teslaquila” April Fools’ booze into the real thing

Below are six times Tesla and others (*cough* Volkswagen) rode the delicate line between April Fool’s joke and misleading the public.

2015: Tesla Model S ‘ticket-avoidance-mode’

At this point, Tesla’s Model S “ticket-avoidance-mode” video is a straight-up classic. Back in 2015, Tesla announced in a video that Model S owners would no longer need to worry about parking tickets with the use of the mode. Eight years and 22.2 million views later, the 84-second video is still pretty funny.

2018: Tesla’s fake brush with ‘bankwuptcy’

Perhaps one of the most high-profile of Tesla’s April Fool’s jokes was surrounding the release of Tesla Tequila, then called Teslaquila—before the company was required to change the name by authorities in Mexico.

On his own Twitter profile in 2018, CEO Elon Musk posted that Tesla had gone bankrupt, detailing a “last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs. The thread continued, saying that Musk had been found passed out against a Tesla Model 3, with “Teslaquilla” bottles all around him.

This one stung just a little bit, as it was clearly a joke. However, Tesla’s multiple real brushes with bankruptcy in periods of  “production hell” during the Model S and Model 3 ramp probably made this one hit home for some employees and shareholders at the time.

“There are many chapters of bankruptcy and, as critics so rightly pointed out, Tesla has them *all*, including Chapter 14 and a half (the worst one),” Musk wrote in the post.

2019: Tesla Pittsburgh store ‘downsizes’ Model S

This one is perhaps a lesser-known event than some of the company’s more public April Fool’s announcements, but it was pretty funny when the Tesla store at Ross Park Mall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, “downsized” its stock, instead displaying a tiny Radio Flyer Model S for the day.

2021: Volkswagen basically changes its name to ‘Voltswagen’

This one simply needed to be included on this list: Does anyone else remember when Volkswagen highlighted its transition to EVs by issuing an April Fool’s press release to formally change its name to ‘Voltswagen’?

I do, because it was so convincing that the automaker later had to issue a wave of apologies for misleading consumers and shareholders. Volkswagen also said it published the release “accidentally,” coming out just a couple of days prior to April 1. Said to begin in May 2021, the release also coincided with the deployment of early ID.4 units, apparently intended to be “a public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility.”

“We might be changing out our K for a T, but what we aren’t changing is this brand’s commitment to making best-in-class vehicles for drivers and people everywhere,” wrote Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Voltswagen of America, in the fake release.

In a follow-up, Volkswagen issued an apology statement before April Fool’s Day even began:

“What began as an April Fool’s effort got the whole world buzzing,” the automaker wrote. “Turns out people are as passionate about our heritage as they are about our electric future. So whether it’s Voltswagen or Volkswagen, people talking about electric driving and our ID.4 can only be a good thing.”

Really, this is the only one on this list that was probably too convincing. This might be a bit of a hot take, but personally, I kind of liked the fake name.

2023: Tesla Cybertruck’s highly anticipated “crash test”

This one was only a little cruel: Prior to its release in November, Tesla last April posted a short, repeating teaser of the highly anticipated Cybertruck crash test, edited to offer zero crash, zero details, and thus, zero resolve for those awaiting the real results. Many had requested details on crash testing for the Cybertruck over the years, so the unsatisfying clip got a lot of people hyped up, only to later realize the date.

This one was verifiably pretty convincing.

Tesla did eventually go on to release the actual crash testing footage for the Cybertruck.

Elon Musk on April Fool’s this year

Lastly, I’ll let the big man himself speak for what’s worth trolling people on in 2024, but as a short preamble, it’s not auto- or energy-related, and it’s really just his latest in speaking out against Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives:

What are your thoughts? Did I miss any April Fool’s jokes that made companies, consumers or shareholders look like fools? Let me know at zach@teslarati.com, find me on X at @zacharyvisconti, or send us tips at tips@teslarati.com.

April Fool’s! 6 times Tesla and others were a little too convincing
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