Here are two things not well known for their senses of humor: Germans and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Unfortunately for the former (what with its track record and all), those two deficits have come together in a rather unpleasant way.

Volkswagen’s American unit was only kidding when it put out the word late in March that it was changing its name to “Voltswagen” to show its commitment to electric vehicles. To say the April Fool’s joke didn’t land is an understatement…. Volkswagen did not dispute reports in Der Spiegel and other German media that the S.E.C. was looking into whether the carmaker misled shareholders with the faux rebranding. Volkswagen in Germany declined to comment Friday.

Publicly listed companies are not supposed to fool their shareholders, even in jest.

We’d say VW should have consulted with the equally unfunny Elon Musk on the SEC’s absence of a funny bone, but he’d undoubtedly have told it to go ahead with the “joke” anyway.

Volkswagen’s gag falls flat as the S.E.C. begins an inquiry. [NYT]

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