Volkswagen ID.3 Harlequin Edition (April Fools' Day 2024)

Funny cars? Motor industry delighted in April Fool's Day jokes this year

Are we not entertained?

A number of major carmakers and motor industry companies like to show their lighter side every April Fool’s Day with a selection of made-up products and initiatives, and yesterday’s edition was no exception.

Whether it be in-car functions for dogs (two separate manufacturers went with gags based on man’s best friend), a new lifestyle fragrance for pick-up drivers, or even an electric vehicle coated in electroluminescent paint, there was plenty to fool the gullible… and allow the cynical to roll their eyes.

VW’s Harlequin is back… or not

Harking back to a famous Polo special model of the late 1990s, in which every body panel was a contrasting shade of bright red, blue, green or yellow — no, we’re not making that up, it really existed — the Volkswagen ID.3 Harlequin Edition was claimed to be finished in electroluminescent paint, similar to that seen on the ID.7 Concept of 2023.

VW ID.3 Harlequin Edition April Fool 2024 animated gif

This would allow, the German firm said, for the body panels to light up and pulse in response to beats from the electric car’s sound system, as well as in sync with the ChatGPT functionality that’s coming to the EV’s range.

Of course, the hints that this wouldn’t be making production (aside from being announced on April 1, naturally) were the use of the word “mischievous” for the paint design and customers being directed to VW’s online configurator with the code “JEST 1”.

BMW’s unique washing method

The German marques clearly love a good joke, because BMW is one of the longest-running participants in the April Fools’ tradition. This year the Munich-based brand had a short Instagram video of a new car-cleaning suit.

Which, weirdly enough, looked like a professional dancer dressed up in an outfit which bore a striking resemblance to one of the side-rollers in an automated carwash. Obviously, this unusual piece of clothing was said to be available to order on the BMW website from April 1.

Double doggy delights from Honda and Mercedes

Honda and Mercedes-Benz both decided to focus on dogs as the basis for their April Fool’s jokes.

Honda loves an acronym and, with self-aware levity, promoted its Pet Activated Wireless System (PAW-S), which supposedly recognises a tag on the dog’s collar and allows your pet to access the boot of an e:Ny1 EV paw-free, then also use various in-car functions to keep them happy while awaiting your return.

The ostensible spokesperson for this one, named Annie Mal, said: “Whether you’re heading to the local dog park for walkies or embarking on a bigger trip for a much-needed holiday, PAW-S means that your dog will be calm, content and ready to take on whatever you have planned.”

Honda said it would follow-up on the dog version with PAW-S set-ups for cats, rabbits and even pygmy goats. Which, we’ll admit, did make us chuckle.

Merc did much the same thing, only the German brand called it MBUX Bark Assist — a pun on the Park Assist feature available in many modern cars.

MBUX Bark Assist campaign: Mercedes-Benz presents a new voice assistant  MBUX Bark Assist campaign: Mercedes-Benz presents a new voice assistant

Mercedes claimed its cars’ fitted with Bark Assist have infotainment systems that can decode a dog’s bark to use various bits of the in-car technology. And you thought children and voice-activated infotainment was a bad mix…

Something smells off (road)

Elsewhere, commercial vehicle specialist Isuzu came up with a rugged, outdoorsy fragrance called Driven. Frankly, this release looked fairly normal, and we were wondering if it was even a joke or not, given there are plenty eau de toilettes on the market from car makers — and the spokesperson for this one was not Hugh J’Laffe or Joe King, but in fact George Wallis, the real head of marketing at Isuzu UK.

He said: “Our new fragrance is as rugged as our pick-ups; one splash of this sensual dynamite will guarantee spectacular results both on and off the road. It’s an aftershave that steers you toward success while leaving a trail of admiration in your wake. Don’t be a fool, become the adventure with the unyielding, captivating charm of Driven.”

Even if you’d not spotted the “Don’t be a fool” line, following a link put out by the company’s PR department and clicking through to order a sample via the fake web page resulted in visitors being wished a Happy April Fool’s Day.

A load of hot air

Finally, EV reviews website got in on the act, reckoning that a hot-air balloon company in the UK had produced a heated tyre technology that could reduce the weight of an electric vehicle by up to 500kg.

These brightly coloured tyres, in homage to the look of hot-air balloons, were called the Hotyres 0104 and their inventor, Poppy Cox (geddit?) was quoted as saying:

“Some early prototypes were unfortunately trialled with elements that created too much hot air. For a brief period in 2022, there was a Renault Zoe lodged in the rafters of our test hangar. Eventually, we had to ask a local farmer to shoot it down, which set the programme back a few weeks.” 

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