Volkswagen alludes to dark past
VOLKSWAGEN has taken the unusual step of effectively apologising for its dieselgate scandal while promoting its electric-focused future with a new advertisement that has begun airing in America.
Titled "Hello Light" and set against the backdrop of the 1964 Simon and Garfunkel hit The Sound of Silence, the ad includes audio news grabs of the emissions cheating scandal and a despondent-looking designer sketching a new vehicle, which turns out to be the ID Buzz, the concept showcasing the upcoming electric version of the iconic Kombi.
The ad has Hollywood-like production values and images of sparking robots assembling batteries and electric motors following lots of dark, moody images and lights flickering on through the darkness.
Running for one minute and 45 seconds, the ad concludes in revealing the concept version of the ID Buzz along with the words "in the darkness, we found the light".
It is accompanied by claims Volkswagen is "working towards a better tomorrow" with plans to sell 22 million electric vehicles globally by 2028 - the first being the ID hatchback that goes on sale in 2020 - as part of a US$50 billion spend on the clean technology.
The ad is a bold move for the German car maker and reinforces the battering its reputation has copped in the United States market.
Dieselgate was exposed in 2015 and punished the brand's reputation in America, where it is a relatively minor player but has aspirations of significantly growing sales.
It affected about 500,000 cars in America - a fraction of the 11 million vehicles globally - but led to tens of billions of dollars in fines and compensation to owners.
Dieselgate also resulted in criminal charges against some executives, leading to jail time for some.
As a PR nightmare for one of the world's largest car makers, the emissions cheating scandal prompted a big change of direction for Volkswagen and its brands - which include Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini and Skoda - and a shift away from "clean diesel" (as it was marketed) towards electricity.
The Hello Light advertisement has already sparked debate and analysis in the US, some impressed Volkswagen is apologising, others suggesting it is an excuse for being late to the electric vehicle race that is fast unfolding.
Don't expect it to be the last reference to what was arguably the darkest time in Volkswagen's 80-plus-year history.