Car manufacturers aren’t really known for their sense of humour; they’re usually too busy worrying about sales targets and engineering development to concern themselves with comedy. However, every April Fools’ day, most companies’ PR departments try to pull the wool over our eyes with an outlandish jape.
Their efforts normally take the shape of an advert or a press release which promotes a dubious new vehicle or some elaborate space-age technology and, given the amount of resources at their disposal, brands can go to great lengths to make their jokes look as convincing as possible. Some even make one-off cars, for a cheap laugh.
Here’s our run-down of the best motoring-related April Fools’ Day jokes from 2021, as well as some of our favourite larks from years gone by.
April Fools’ Day 2021: best manufacturer jokes
Volkswagen’s American name-change
You could say that this one went slightly awry. A couple of days before April Fools Day 2021, Volkswagen ‘accidentally’ released a story on its website which claimed that the German firm planned to change all of its American branding to ‘Voltswagen’, supposedly to signal the company-wide shift to electric power.
Volkswagen’s American press office was subsequently inundated with questions from US journalists and those journalists were told categorically that there was no April Fools tomfoolery at play. The firm’s PR people simply played along and told everyone it was true.
The leaked story was followed up by a full press release quoting senior VW executives on the thinking behind the Voltswagen rebrand. Volkswagen’s US website was edited with some references to Volkswagen changed to Voltswagen and its social media accounts were renamed. It seemed that they really were going to do it. Until suddenly they weren’t.
Much to the consternation of the international media outlets who’d run the story, a day later before April Fools Day 2021 had even landed, the big back-track began. Sources within Volkswagen changed their tune, confirming the hoax and Voltswagen was off the table. Classic April Fools Day effort from VW’s American arm or public relations catastrophe? You be the judge…
April Fools Day: best car company efforts from the years gone by
Toyota Yaris Adventure
Toyota took a swipe at the American market with the Yaris Adventure in 2019. This fictitious pick-up truck poked fun at four-wheel-drive owners who only use their vehicles on tarmac roads, rather than the off-road routes for which they’re designed.
The Yaris adventure is aimed at buyers “who want to tell their friends they own a truck, but never veer off the pavement.” Features include an aggressive front bumper, roof-mounted LED spot lamps and a 19cm ground clearance; perfect, Toyota says, for cresting a kerb in supermarket car park.
Toyota claims the model comes a four-wheel-drive system, but it’s only substantial enough drag the Adventure up a snowy exit ramp from an underground car park. The load bed has also been designed to be suitable for “moderate” haulage jobs only.
Sat-nav isn’t included as, according to Toyota, “anyone smart enough to drive the Yaris Adventure knows exactly where they’re going.” However, roadside assistance comes as standard to make up for the Adventure’s lack of functionality, with Toyota stating: “it’s likely the truck will get stuck if it veers too far off the road.”
Audi b-tron honey-powered car
Audi’s 2019 April Fools’ Day joke played on the current market shift towards zero- and low-emissions motoring, with the company claiming it had built a honey-powered car called the b-tron. Features include a hexagonal fuel-cap and an on-board toaster.
Imker Honig, head of Audi’s Komplett Geschminkt (German for “made up entirely”) skunkworks said the project wasn’t without its problems, though. He reported: “early prototypes tended to attract scores of bees, typically around the hexagonal fuel cap. One tester was swarmed by a hive that had settled in the glove compartment.”
BMW Lunar Paint
This year, BMW claimed to have developed lunar paint. Supposedly, the paint is embedded with “revolutionary photovoltaic technology,” allowing the firm’s all-electric and hybrid models to passively recharge at night as they drive.
MG’s road-painting tyres
For April Fools’ Day 2019, MG announced a set of road-colouring tyres. Supposedly, the tyres are coated in a water-soluble dye which covers the road as the car drives, before fading away shortly afterwards.
MG’s Professor of Pigment, Dr Gull Abel, also confirmed that customers would be able to change the colour of the dye through a new mobile tyre-fitting service. Safety hasn’t been compromised either, with the firm claiming its new range of tyres have passed the industry safety tests with “flying colours.”
Fiat Panda Hawaii editionFiat has announced its falsified intentions to build a special edition Panda commemorating the tenth anniversary of the TV show ‘The Inbetweeners.’
Designed as a tribute to the battered old Fiat Cinquecento Hawaii Edition from the series, its spec list includes a 28kW “overhead valved” 899cc petrol engine, a pre-dented red passenger door, black plastic bumpers and a radio-cassette player in place of the standard colour screen DAB radio.
To further sweeten the deal, Fiat also claims to offer free insurance to all first-time teenage buyers and four free tickets to Thorpe park, with queue-jump passes for the front seats of Nemesis Inferno.
However, some references to the show give the game away a little too much, such as claiming the Hawaii Panda comes with an “anti-squirrel-collision” system and “mild amphibious qualities” to protect the car should it end up in a pond.
Land Rover: the UK’s most remote charging point
Land Rover’s 2019 April Fools’ Day jape is slightly better judged, with the British firm claiming to have installed the UK’s most remote charging point, located 25 kilometres up a mountain on the Isle of Skye.
The firm claims its new charging point is ideally situated for Range Rover P400e owners to enjoy a “zero emissions adventure,” insisting that owners would easily be able to reach the mountain’s summit without polluting the air, thanks to the car’s 50-kilometre all-electric range.
Land Rover reports that a full charge would take just two hours and 45 minutes and, as a distraction whilst they wait, the firm recommends that owners take in the “electrifying view.”
Like any good tall tale, though, there is a grain of truth. Land Rover’s April Fools’ press release also reaffirmed JLR’s plans to offer an electrified variant of every model in its range from 2020, alongside the manufacturer’s existing petrol and diesel range.
Skoda’s customisable puddle lights
Skoda’s annual joke takes a punt at the recent market trend for car personalisation, with a claimed set of customisable puddle lights. Dubbed the ‘ProjectaPal’ LED reminder, the system supposedly allows owners to display images and personalised messages on the road when the doors are opened.
Skoda’s fictional Head of Infotainment Development, Dr. Ivor Tüchskreen, explained the system, claiming: “Every week, I forget to put my bins out for recycling. Before ProjectaPal, I would tape a note on the interior door handle, but it would always fall off. Then I thought ‘why don’t I ask my Karoq to remind me instead?’ – and that’s when we started designing ProjectaPal.”
For less forgetful owners, ProjectaPal can also display any image from a linked smartphone. Tüchskreen continued, stating: “Maybe you are missing someone you really love like your dog, cat, your favourite football player or your wife. With ProjectaPal, you can see their faces the moment you open the door.”
Aston Martin’s Project Sparta monster truck
You might think that a brand like Aston Martin, that trades on its heritage and so-cool-it-hurts image, would be above indulging in traditional April 1st tomfoolery. And you’d be wrong.
The brand’s April 1st 2018 press release announced Project Sparta, a new race programme to run alongside Aston’s current F1 and FIA World Endurance Championship efforts. That’s right, Aston Martin would have us believe that it’s entering a V12, 820kW monster truck in the US-based Monster Jam series.
Engineered alongside the new Aston Martin Varekai SUV, the big-wheeled beast is designed to do battle with the giants of the monster truck world, including Grave Digger, Big Kahuna, Ice Cream Man and Jailbird, and it’ll enter competition in the 2019 season. Or maybe it won’t.
Honda Concept CR-V Roadster
Honda has really gone to town for April Fools Day 2018, returning with an angle grinder and whipping the roof off its CR-V mid-sized SUV. A little Photoshop trickery would certainly have sufficed but it’s good to know that the resulting Honda Concept CR-V Roadster does actually exist in the real world.
Honda claims that the SUV Roadster is designed “purely for sunnier climates and therefore completely useless for the two-day British summer which traditionally occurs in May”. It also provided a quote from one ‘Eipurirufūru’, who is said to be the company’s ‘Future Opportunity Occupational Lead’. The real sting in the tail of the Honda Concept CR-V Roadster story, though, is that what Honda apparently sees as an April Fools joke, Land Rover actually put into series production in the shape of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible. Ouch.
McLaren’s attention to detail
If you believe the rumours about the fanatical attention to detail that has underpinned McLaren’s success in motor sport and supercar manufacturing, you might have just fallen for the firm’s 2018 April Fools Day effort.
The release claimed the firm is going to new lengths in search of efficiency gains with a range of measures including daily monitoring of the depth of the lake and size of the floor tiles at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking. It also suggested that staff were taking synchronised tea breaks to save time.
MG ZS with alpaca power
MG has announced a new alternative fuel version of its MG ZS SUV for April Fools Day 2018. The firm claimed that a new partnership with the Faerie Tale alpaca farm in Kenilworth has resulted in the development of a version of the compact SUV that runs on alpaca poo pellets.
Daniel Gregorious, Head of Sales & Marketing at MG Motor UK, said: “Following our decisions to no longer sell diesel-powered vehicles in the UK market, we wanted to take it one step further and see what was possible using alternative fuels to develop low emission vehicles.” It sounds almost feasible but the emission we’d be most worried about would be the smell.
SEAT’s Arona Copper Edition
SEAT has announced “the first car ever that truly does cost pence to run” for April Fools 2018. The SEAT Arona Copper Edition plays on the mooted withdrawal of copper coins from circulation in the UK and features a coin slot alongside the gear lever where 1p and 2p coins can be inserted to power the car by means not fully explained in the short release.
Rhea Sonible-Price, product manager at SEAT UK commented: “Research shows that some of our customers are understandably brassed off that copper coins could disappear forever, but here at SEAT we’re convinced there’s a new lease of life to be had for these little bits of history as part of the workings of a cutting-edge, modern car.
Skoda noise-cancelling headrest
Skoda teased stressed parents for April Fools Day 2018 with the seductive idea of a new way to drown out unwanted noise coming from younger car occupants. The new noise-cancelling headrest for the Skoda Karoq apparently features QuarrelKancel™ technology and works to drown-out backseat bickering leaving the driver in a state of zen-like calm.
Skoda says the headrest technology is the work of its Chief of Family Relations, Professor Si Lence and Special Projects leader, Dr April Fürst, “We tested 1,000 families over 10,000 miles and identified that 80dB, the sound equivalent of a vacuum cleaner, is the pitch most unbearable for parents,” said Dr Fürst.
Tesla’s bankruptcy claim
With manufacturing bottlenecks delaying the mass production of the Model 3 questions have been raised as to whether Tesla will soon run out of money – and this is exactly what Elon Musk joked about this April Fools.
He tweeted saying, “Tesla Goes Bankrupt Palo Alto, California, April 1, 2018 — Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt. So bankrupt, you can’t believe it.”
This was then followed by a picture showing Mr Musk looking disheveled holding a cardboard sign saying ‘Bankwupt!’. Hopefully the gag won’t come back to bite him.
BMW’s dDrive dog basket
BMW spared a thought for our four-legged friends on April Fools’ Day 2018 with the dDrive dog basket. The high-tech doggy bed was modelled on the firm’s latest electric car range and puts your pooch into the zen-like state it can only usually attain by sticking its head out of the car window.
The wind-in-the-fur feeling is delivered by a BMW TwinPower Turbo Fan that fires a stiff breeze right into the dog’s face. Everyone’s a winner.
McLaren’s Feather Wrap
The wrap industry – not to be confused with the hip hop one – is known for creating ever more ludicrous designs to adorn the population of supercars across the world. However, McLaren took that practice to a whole new level with its April Fools’ Day 2017 contribution.
The firm announced Feather Wrap – consisting of 10,000 artificial, carbon-veined feathers – as an option on the McLaren 570GT model. Taking over 300 hours to assemble by hand, the British car maker claimed that the unusual feature would provide aerodynamic benefits and add just 2.5kg to the weight of the car.
To us it looks like the British supercar has been in collision with a particularly plump pheasant.
Lexus’s Lane Valet Technology
Okay, so Lexus didn’t quite manage to pull the wool over our eyes with this one, but their ‘Lane Valet Tech’ story for April Fools’ Day 2017 was a frontrunner for the ‘Thing We Wish Was Real’ award.
According to the spoof ad, the autonomous software upgrade allows Lexus drivers to move slower motorists in front into a more appropriate lane at the press of a button. So rather than the usual combination of flashing headlights, unspeakable hand gestures followed by a dangerous undertaking manoeuvre, instead the path ahead is cleared safely to allow uninterrupted motorway progress.
Hyundai’s Click to Fly car deliveries
Hyundai’s 2017 April Fools effort played on the very real trend for the car buying process moving online. The Korean firm touted its Click to Fly scheme under which customers can supposedly purchase their vehicle on Hyundai’s Click to Buy website and have it delivered in under two hours by a team of airborne ‘Hy-drones’.
The drones, which Hyundai claims are powered by its Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology, arrive through the sky with your new Hyundai slung underneath in a big box and plonk it onto your driveway before lowering the key into your hand. The manufacturer says it only needs two drones for an i10 city car delivery but four for the extra bulk of a Santa Fe SUV. If that doesn’t set your April Fools antennae twitching, the accompanying video probably will.
MAN’s ice cream MAN
Not to be outdone, commercial vehicle specialist MAN Truck & Bus UK unveiled a special edition ‘Ice Cream MAN’ to be unveiled “on the sundae before” the 2017 Commercial Vehicle Show.
Equipped with “99 special build features”, the Ice Cream MAN comes with “a magnum” of great options and a sound system featuring tracks such as ‘I’m Your MAN’, ‘Stand By Your MAN’ and ‘The Candy MAN’.
Sounds like flake news to us…
MINI’s Hipster hatch
MINI chose to target its 2016 April Fools effort at the growing ‘hipster’ market, offering us the “world premier of the MINI Hipster hatch”. The spoof car features ‘Instagram filtered windows’, ‘a twin-deck cassette player’ and ‘stonewash denim upholstery’ – all features that any self-respecting Hoxton trendster would love. MINI also claims a fixed-gear drivetrain for the car to match the hipster’s retro cool bicycle of choice and offered comments from the “senior external product launch experience curator at MINI UK”, Ivana Newcarr.
Honda’s emoji numberplate
With emoji symbols now infiltrating all aspects of modern life, Honda couldn’t resist weighing-in with the Emoji numberplate. Here smilie faces and other nonsensical pics replace traditional letters and numbers. Honda claimed the plates are a response to demand from younger buyers and that “talks are planned with the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency in an endeavour to exclusively launch the new plates in early 2017”. Good luck in that meeting guys.
Skoda’s Superb dog umbrella
There’s a pull-out umbrella in the door of the Skoda Superb executive saloon so the logical next stem is to install a second rain shield for use by dogs. Skoda took just that leap for April Fools day claiming that there would be “No more soggy Shih Tzus or damp Daschunds thanks to innovative design”.
The press release also treated us to the ramblings of ŠKODA project leader Dr Jacques Rustle. “British rain is officially the wettest in the world, so we knew this accessory would have big appeal with owners in the UK. During development, we captured large quantities of British rain and brought it back to our workshop in the Czech Republic before signing the design off.”
MG’s invisible car
MG thought it’d have a crack at an April Fool’s joke and used that old chestnut of revealing its first invisible car. With help from Professor C. Thrue and Chief Designer Avril F’ouil, the brand expressed its excitement about its new car.
Of course, with it being invisible, there were reported development issues. Matthew Cheyne, Head of Sales and Marketing at MG, said: “At first we had some trouble with the cars, as people kept walking into them or we’d misplace them on the site. As soon as we placed the iconic MG badge on the front of them, using non-invisible materials, we were able to find them much more easily.”
He went on to add that parking tickets would be a thing of the past, because traffic wardens wouldn’t be able to see it. Of course, neither would any cars driving in that think the bay is empty…
The Jeep Wrangler Grille Grill
Like Porsche, Jeep shared its April Fools via social media channels. The Wrangler Grille Grill is, well, shaped like the grille from a Wrangler!
In that most manly of pursuits, the barbeque, it is obvious that Jeep wants to get in on the culinary delights of cooking a slab of beef to within an inch of its life. The grill would be perfect for those looking to take advantage of the Wrangler’s rugged appeal and could be great for a Jeep-themed camping trip in Colorado, the Amazon rainforest or the Lake District!
Skoda’s chameleon car
On April 1st 2015, Skoda revealed the solution to the age old car buying question, what colour should i choose? The answer being ‘all of them’.
The brand announced a Colour Concept system, a £500 option on the Fabia supermini that allows buyers to mix and match body, roof and wheel colours with appalling results. Better still, the ShadeChange function lets you change the colour of individual body panels at the touch of a button. According to Dr Gio Kyng of Prague University, “each panel is coated with a microscopic layer of unobtainium – a newly discovered element that changes colour when a small electrical charge is applied to it.”
Nissan’s GYM button
Nissan announced a new way for drivers of its cars to fight the flab when behind the wheel for April Fools’ Day 2015. The GYM button disables labour saving gadgets like power steering and increases the force required to operate the pedals and gearbox. Suddenly your drive to work becomes a blood vessel bursting workout capable of burning an average of 1,415 calories a day.
Mercedes’ AMG Sprinter
Mercedes was quick out of the blocks for April Fools’ Day 2015 with a spurious rendering of a Mercedes-AMG Sprinter63 S circulated on social media. The panel van was claimed to be packing a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with 503bhp, enough to get any red-blooded delivery driver hot under the collar. Sports suspension, a full body kit and upgraded wheels completed the package but it would be hard to imagine any sane employer footing the fuel bill.
Volkswagen’s extra tiny van
April Fools’ Day 2015 really did bring the van manufacturers out in force, even the usually straight-laced Volkswagen. The German brand proposed the Caddy Maxi Mini, a 2.4m long micro van with one seat and only enough room for a tool box or the driver’s lunch. Basically, you could take more with you if you got the bus.
To top it all, VW quoted its head of commercial vehicle product development, Dr. Avin A’laf. “We see the Caddy Maxi Mini as our equivalent of the chocolate bars at the supermarket checkout. We hope that when customers come and buy one of our multi-award-winning full-size vans, they’ll add a Caddy Maxi Mini as a little treat.”
Skoda’s hairy Yeti
Skoda introduced us to the Yeti Ice special edition for April Fools’ Day 2014. The car features a special faux fur finish developed by Skoda engineers working in the Himalayas. The press release, which came complete with quotes from Skoda experts Dr Yu Ciddingme and Prof Lukat Thedate, explained that personalisation options including side partings and fur extensions are available.
Red Bull F1 in race tweeting technology
Red Bull announced a new addition to its F1 steering wheel for April Fools’ Day 2014 – technology that would allow drivers to tweet during a race. Fittingly announced via the medium of Twitter, the new wheel was billed as the perfect way to let F1 drivers stay in touch with their fans.
Mazda’s four-seater MX-5
The nippy little Mazda MX-5 can now be enjoyed by the whole family – thanks to Mazda’s introduction of the four-seater version on April Fool’s Day 2014. That extra-long wheelbase and extra weight shouldn’t affect handling too much, right?
BMW’s Force Injection Booster
BMW announced a new system that puts the thrill back in to driving for April Fools Day 2014. It claimed that the Force Injection Booster works by “extracting kinetic energy from the car’s engine and converting it into positive g-forces”. The effect being that drivers can experience the thrill of high speed driving even at modest speeds of just 20mph.
Additional BMW ‘AirNet’ technology works to keep occupants hairdos in tiptop condition while all this is going on. In the press release Professor Mika Notbetrü, Head of BMW Innovation, described FIB technology as “Mind-blowingly unbelievable”.
MINI’s Cooper T
You’ve heard of the Cooper S and Cooper D MINI models, well MINI asked you to suspend disbelief to accommodate a Cooper T on April Fools’ Day 2014. It sounds plausible until you learned the car supposedly runs on tea.
Capable of covering 40 miles on a single cup and equipped with Dunk Avoidance Technology to prevent unscrupulous individuals from lowering biscuits into the fuel tank, the Cooper T was a tough one to swallow.
Peugeot’s Audio Sonic Personalisation Programme for car horns
Peugeot announced a new personalisation option for its cars in April 1st 2014. The Audio Sonic Personalisation Programme for car horns invited customers to record their own sounds for their car’s horn that would “reflect their taste and character” so that “everyone can enjoy a truly individual horn”. An accompanying video showed the technology in action.
Hyundai’s i10 Popemobile
Hyundai treated us to an unlikely modified version of its i10 city car in on April Fools Day 2009. The premise behind the i10 Special Project Popemobile was that the the head of the catholic church wanted to get around in something more environmentally-friendly than the usual armourplated SUVs.
The game was given away by Hyundai’s press release small print that claimed, “all leather from the seat facings was replaced with parts of tapestry woven by monks from the Indian city of Utta Bullacs”.
BMW’s M3 pick-up truck
When is an April Fools’ Day joke not an April Fools Day joke, When it’s a BMW M3 pick-up.
BMW lifted the lid on this 414bhp V8 ute based on its M3 Convertible in 2011, proudly announcing that there was enough space in the back for 20 golf bags!
We sniggered but it turned out that the M3 pick-up was real. It was subsequently spotted lapping the Nurburgring and, weighting 50kg less than an M3 Coupe, is said to be capable of 186mph.
Kia KEE_Wii kills the steering wheel
In 2008 Kia looked to capitalise on the success of the Nintendo Wii games console with a KEE_Wii concept car April Fools’ Day joke.
Kia said that the car had a portable controller instead of the conventional steering wheel and pedals. This enabled it to be driven from any of its four seats, even by the kids in the back. “It seems obvious to us that if children as young as eight can drift, rally and race their way to multiple world championships on a games console, then this new driving system will be simple enough for anyone to use,” said the blurb.
Coming from the manufacturer responsible for the cee’d and the pro_cee’d, nobody batted an eyelid at the KEE_Wii’s silly name but five-year-olds driving cars was a step too far.
Kia really pushed the Photoshop boat out in generating the images of its Aero-Soul April Fools’ gag in 2009. The car was said to be modified with a new ‘Air Propulsion and Retardation Installation Line system’ that harness the power of the wind to save fuel.
BMW’s Political Roundel Attachment Tag
As election fever gripped the country in 2010, BMW looked to cash in with a political April Fools’ Day effort. The Political Roundel Attachment Tag (PRAT) was an opportunity for BMW drivers to show their allegiance to a political party by changing the colours on their car’s badges.
Auto Windscreens prescription windscreen
It’s not just car manufacturers that like an April Fools’ Day prank. In 2010 Auto Windscreens revisited an old joke by announcing the world’s first prescription windscreen. There was even a mocked-up video and publicity shot featuring British Touring Car Driver Tom Chilton.
Tailored to the individual’s ophthalmic prescription the windscreen was created to eliminate the need for drivers to wear their glasses or contact lenses at the wheel. The Auto Windscreens press release even went so far as to claim that each screen came with a giant cleaning cloth.
BMW’s Magnetic Tow Technology
Another classic BMW April Fools joke was the 2009 announcement of Magnetic Tow Technology.
The system purported to use a magnetic field that would allow BMW drivers to creep up behind other traffic and latch on for a fuel-saving ride. “For once, we’re happy to be behind the competition,” said the tagline on BMW’s spoof ad.