VW NZ & Colenso drop out of sight

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Volkswagen NZ and its agency Colenso BBDO have – unsurprisingly – gone to ground as the VW emissions scandal brings the global brand crashing around their ears – perhaps fatally.

VW NZ is simply not accepting calls on the subject, and has yet to even attempt to update its NZ website – but the agency at least did attempt to deal with our unwelcome messages, albeit with a resounding “no comment” and a recommendation that we seek comment from VW NZ marketing manager Ben Montgomery.

And – you guessed it – VW told us this morning that Montgomery is “in transit at the moment so will not be available to answer any emails or calls at this time”.

Strangely, it’s been reported that none of the dodgy VW software has been installed in any NZ VW models – which kind of begs the question: Why not? Do we see only under-spec models in this country?

The agency has promised to keep us in the loop, so watch this space!

In the meantime, here’s global coverage from Warc, out of New York and Seoul:

The ripples continue to spread from Volkswagen’s weekend admission that the carmaker had rigged diesel emissions tests in the US, as more countries announce investigations and drivers face the recall of vehicles being driven illegally.

Michael Horn, Volkswagen’s US chief executive, said at an event in New York on Monday that the company had “totally screwed up” and promised to make amends.

Sales of affected versions of the relevant models have already been suspended in the United States and Canada, Reuters reported, while Germany has ordered an examination of all VW’s diesel cars and South Korea – where VW is among the best-selling foreign brands – has said it will carry out emissions tests on several models, including the VW Jetta and Golf and the Audi A3.

“If South Korean authorities find problems in VW diesel cars, the probe could be expanded to all German diesel cars,” said an official at the environment ministry. But Daimler and BMW have said the accusations against VW did not apply to them.

“Volkswagen’s brand value is expected [to] be hit by this issue as its strong diesel engine technology has been the backbone of its brand recognition,” Yim Eun-young, an analyst at Samsung Securities, told the Financial Times.

The FT noted that most of the world outside Europe is averse to diesel engines because of their production of nitrous oxide, a pollutant that causes smog, respiratory illness and increased death from heart and lung disease and said that VW’s apparent “blithe disregard for the effect on US health” was one reason for the response of stock markets – VW shares fell 20% on Monday.

Volkswagen – the world’s biggest carmaker by sales – is facing possible criminal charges and penalties of up to $18bn in the US, based on fines per vehicle, with the cost of the recall on top of that, although The Economist thought that such a harsh penalty was unlikely. “Perhaps the most damage will be done to VW’s reputation,” it said.

In Berlin, the deception is being described as a disaster for the entire German automotive industry.

Global ceo Martin Winterkorn resigned yesterday to clear the way for an attempted clawback. Although he took “full responsibility”, he went to the wall denying he’d known about the tricks the company was playing behind his back. Which itself is a good enough reason to resign.

He is also reported to be in line for a US$32 million company pension.

Data sourced from Reuters, Financial Times, Economist, Handelsblatt; additional content by Warc staff

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