April Fools’ Day is a unique holiday in that it encourages the public, for one day, to lie. Not just any old lies though, but ones meant to trick ones gullible enough to believe something hook, line, and sinker. It’s a day where pranks abound.
Even major automakers get in on the April Fools’ spirit with elaborate announcements that sound too good—and often ridiculous—to be true. These announcements can be so out-there that people actually believe the news, having forgotten what day on the calendar it is. It really provides an opportunity for automakers to have fun with car buyers and even add some commentary on the current state of the market.
With the rise of the internet, the awareness of automakers and its owners has risen. Elon Musk, Sergio Marchionne and others capture the public’s attention now more than ever. It sounds silly, but releasing something as inconsequential as an April Fools’ joke resonates with car buyers. It cuts through the business-like distance that develops between a consumer and enterprise.
In some instances, automakers have made grand and humorous announcements on April Fools’ Day only to lead to consumers' disappointment. They wished that the news, no matter how ridiculous it sounded, would actually come true.
We’re going to look at some of the quirkiest April Fools’ jokes automakers ever announced. The following contains a wide spectrum from smart ideas that could actually occur down the line to strange ones meant merely to illicit amusement. These either made car buyers laugh at how detailed automakers went with these pranks or furious for having gotten their hopes up.
20 Lexus’ “Lane Valet Tech”
Tech is changing the automobile industry. It’s even finding its way into April Fools’ Day press releases. According to Auto Express, Lexus announced their “Lane Valet Tech” back in 2017. It not only sounds appealing but would be a dream come true for some drivers, and a nightmare for the rest. They don’t explain how it works, only what it does.
As per the same source, if someone is driving slow in front of you, simply push a button to gently assign them to the next slower lane. In a perfect world, this sort of tech would exist, only it could get a little out of hand if everyone had it.
19 Honda Dating App
Honda envisions a car that can lead drivers to their soulmates. In an attempt to play matchmaker, Honda teased their in-car dating app back in April 2017. Thankfully it was all a joke. According to Torque—like many dating apps out there today—drivers could swipe through candidates with the flick of their finger.
At least they had the good sense to only make it usable when the car is at a complete stop. Not only does this app sound invasive, but creepy as well. It’s a good thing Honda decided to make a joke out of it instead of actually pursuing such a project.
18 Lexus’ “Genetic Select”
Here’s a car feature that sounds like something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984. Lexus made the bold and technologically frightening announcement for April Fools’ in 2018, calling it "Genetic Select.” According to their straight-faced announcement on the Lexus website, drivers “pair” with their vehicles by licking a band across the steering wheel. From there, it will choose the best car to fit the driver, making custom adjustments like window tints if the driver is "genetically prone to more freckles.”
The press release said it was a partnership with the company 23andMe, which helps people learn about their ancestry and background.
17 Jeep Grill(e)
One has to hand it to Jeep, they really nailed this joke. Managing to achieve a joke that is both funny and meta, Jeep advertised a front grille that could actually detach from the front and plop on the ground over a fire. Throw some steaks on the grill—technically, grille—and suddenly there’s a cook-off.
When one looks at the real-world logistics, there’s no way anyone would use the front grille of their dirty car to cook steaks on, but the idea is a clever one nonetheless. Even more, it took one of the more iconic design characteristics people associate Jeep with and made it into a practical tool.
16 Opel Astra Copacabana
It’s a ridiculous prank one had to see to believe. To commemorate April Fools’ Day in 2014, as well as the popular sport of football, Opel and Mini rolled out ads promoting special edition cars. Opel’s was an Astra Copacabana that offered an interior unlike any ever seen before.
It actually had, in the promotional stills as per CNET, seats made of grass. If that didn’t stand out as a joke right away, then it’s safe to say those viewers were gullible. Imagine needing to go out to your front driveway in order to water the car seats every few days.
15 Porsche Mission E Tractor
Porsche is best known for their luxury sports cars. They handle that niche of the car market very well. Making a tractor seemed like a strange step to go in, even though they’ve made them in the past, back in the 1950s.
Autoblog reports that in 2018, Porsche announced they’d be making a new tractor called the Mission E. The announcement wasn't the only thing to raise eyebrows though. The specs behind it were astonishing. They claimed it could do 700 hp. They proudly announced it would change the way farmers work. If it sounds insane, that’s because it was all just a ruse.
14 Tesla’s “Bankwuptcy”
Elon Musk must be doing something right. Even non-automobile enthusiasts are into what he says and does. He also has a good sense of humor, which showed on April 1st, 2018. Auto Express notes that when the public wondered whether Tesla was low on money, Musk made a joke embracing this notion.
Using a platform he’s become famous for communicating through, Musk tweeted a photo of himself with a piece of cardboard that says, "Bankwupt!” In the photo's caption, he alludes to the company going under after an attempt to raise money. It managed to jab at critics while also indulging in April Fools’ Day trickery.
13 Honda CR-V Roadster
It’s not unheard of for automakers to do drastic changes to their cars, like chopping off the roof. In 2018, as Autoblog reports, Honda UK came out with a report they’d be taking the roof off their CR-V models. Thus, the CR-V Roadster was born.
They even had a press image that staged the Frankenstein-like operation in an open warehouse. The same source points out the absence of even a drop-top, making this an undesirable and inconvenient car. We can imagine there being a sense of relief for Honda buyers across the pond when they noticed it was April 1st.
12 Skoda Noise-Cancelling Headrest
Kids can be loud sometimes. Parents know this all too well. Whether it’s at home, at a restaurant or even in the car, kids can dominate the conversation. According to Auto Express, automaker Skoda announced noise-canceling headrests built-in to their car seats.
This could help parents find some level of relaxation in their drive even while the kids screamed in the backseat. Alas, it was only an April Fools’ Day joke, despite how amazing this technology sounded. It must have disappointed parents everywhere who hoped for such an invention to emerge. For now, parents will have to keep enduring their kids propensity for screaming.
11 McLaren Feather Wrap
McLaren may have been poking fun at the extreme car wraps out there with this feathery freak. It wouldn’t be surprising if many out there wish this actually existed. Alas, it was only an April Fools’ joke back in 2017. According to Auto Express, the press release hinted at a firm using 10,000 feathers to construct this unique wrap.
They even went so far as to make up a narrative that it takes 300 hours to make, which also makes a little fun at the marketing behind cars. Where it goes too far though is when they say it actually improves the car’s performance, which exposed it as a complete farce.
10 BMW Motorrad Carry-On 3D Printer
Part of what makes April Fools’ announcements fun is how extreme they can be. Take the BMW Motorrad’s press release last year, which is the company's motorcycle division. We can’t decide if this is ingenious or just impractical. According to Autoblog, they had the idea of putting a 3D printer on the back of a bike so that it could create replacement parts when the need arises.
If we’re playing along here, this would, of course, assume that the motorcyclist knows how to diagnose and fix their bike. Then again, who knows if something like this does exist down the line, and BMW gets credit for having foresight?
9 Dacia Sundero Model
The disparity between average and luxury cars is growing. In large part, it has to do with luxury cars getting slicker, posher and outside the reach of the general public. We like to think Dacia recognizes this, at least in part, as their April Fools’ Day jokes reveal.
According to Auto Evolution, they teased an off the wall trim called the Dacia Sundero, which is a play on words adapted from their Sandero model. The Sundero, as its name suggests, offers a tanning feature for those who want some artificial sun on the go. With the direction luxury cars are going in today, it wouldn’t surprise us.
8 Aston Martin Project Sparta
As concept car art goes, this is not the best to come out. It looks a little thrown together, but it’s enough to wonder whether Aston Martin might actually release such a monstrosity. Auto Express notes that Aston Martin came out with the news on April 1st, 2018, calling it Project Sparta.
The funniest part about their press release was an allusion to entering this Sparta into the Monster Jam competition. Being that it's an April Fools’ joke, the automaker didn’t hold back in hyperbole. They said it was going to have a V12 engine that could do an amazing 1,100 bhp.
7 Nissan Bunz the Bunny
The Philadelphia Phillies have their Phanatic, Geico has their Gecko and Nissan has Bunz. What makes this charade complicated is that it may also have some seriousness behind it. The Lionhead rabbit named Bunz, according to Top Speed, inspires the Nissan Design team based in San Diego.
He even has an official title, the same source notes, which is “Ambassador of Hoppy-ness.” It doesn’t get more official than that. They even put together a video and managed to get one of their bigwigs to talk about this inspiring mascot or ambassador or pet, depending on one's viewpoint. One thing’s clear, Nissan likes to have fun.
6 SEAT Arona Copper Edition
Spanish automaker SEAT released a humorous ad back in 2018 to usher in April Fools’ Day. They announced a special edition of their Seat Arona crossover. Auto Express notes it was the Copper Edition, which actually accepted loose change to run. Next to the stick shift, there are photos of a coin slot where UK drivers could deposit their spare pennies.
Part of this plays into an ongoing conversation about whether pennies could soon phase out. It’s humorous to imagine automobiles sharing characteristics with an arcade machine. What isn’t funny to imagine though is the car stopping in the middle of the highway asking for more change.
5 BMW dDrive Dog Basket
Some dogs love going for a ride in the car. They like to sit up in the passenger’s seat, stick their head out the window and lap up the breeze. For those select dogs who actually want to get behind the wheel though, BMW offered a solution, one that won’t really see the light of day though.
Auto Express reports that BMW introduced the dDrive dog basket in 2018. A small doggy bed that’s in the shape of a BMW car, it actually blows wind in a dog’s face as they sit inside it. We could see BMW making money off this, so one wonders if they did it as a joke just to gauge the public’s interest.
4 Hyundai “Click to Fly”
As the intro alluded to, automakers aren’t afraid to make their April Fools’ jokes topical. Hyundai went with a relevant issue back in 2017, when they announced their “Click to Fly” service. Auto Express reports that car buyers wouldn’t have to visit a dealership to pick up their new ride. Instead, as the name suggests, they could click an option online and have it flown out for delivery to their homes.
How does the car get there? Drones, of course. They even put together a fun little video. It shows the drones delivering an enormous box housing a Hyundai and keys to someone's front door.
3 MG ZS Runs On Alpaca Droppings
In this day and age, cars are becoming greener. That’s a good thing for the environment and drivers too, which results in less money spent on gas. MG, which stands for Morris Garages, is a UK-based automaker that didn’t hesitate to have fun with April Fools’ Day.
According to Auto Express, the MG ZS model wouldn’t use gas or batteries to get by, but rather the droppings of alpacas. Just imagine for a minute scooping up feces on a farm somewhere and loading up the fuel tank with it. It’s the kind of tongue-in-cheek press announcement MG must’ve had fun writing.
2 McLaren’s Eye For Detail
McLaren took one of the oddest approaches with their April Fools’ announcement in 2018, and that's saying a lot. It was clear though that what they were doing was a joke off the bat. As per CNET, McLaren showed a systematic—and staged—approach to the way their employees work, taking tea breaks at the same time.
They also revealed other OCD habits, like checking the water level in their lake. It was all a clever way though of making fun of themselves. It also touted the company’s eye for detail and level of care they put into their vehicles.
1 Audi Sushi
Automakers should stick to cars. If they’re going to branch out, it better be within their niche. Otherwise, the public may not react positively to their adventurous pursuits outside the industry. According to CNET, Audi teased they were going into the sushi business back in 2014. The promo was in Japan though, so it takes someone who understands the language to read their announcement.
If one imagines the level of design and quality translating over to sushi, that sounds like some good sushi. The good news is that Audi was only pulling our leg, which confirms they’re leaving sushi up to the sushi chefs.
Sources: Lexus, Autoblog, CNET, Auto Express, Top Speed, Auto Evolution, Torque