Volkswagen board member Juergen Stackmann has dismissed the latest stunt by a British comedian during the firm’s Geneva Motor Show press conference – although he adds the brand is not letting up in its efforts to recover trust after the ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal.
Identified as serial comedy stunt man Simon Brodkin – who showered ex-FIFA Sepp Blatter with banknotes last year and who also attempted to board an England FA flight dressed in the team’s suit – Stackmann said he took the interruption in good faith.
“When he came on stage, I looked at my colleagues and thought, ‘we didn’t do this in rehearsals yesterday…’”.
Stackmann remained relatively unperturbed, though, even managing to make a quip. “It doesn’t need a repair, it’s a perfect car,” he said on stage as security guards casually appeared to escort Brodkin, who was wearing a Volkswagen jacket, away.
Some members of the audience were unaware it wasn’t part of the press conference.
Ironically, Brodkin was attempting to fit his ‘cheat box’ to a petrol-engined Volkswagen Up. It is only diesel-engined TDI models that have been affected by the emissions scandal.
The high-profile interruption hasn’t dented Stackmann’s faith in the Volkswagen brand, four months after he joined the board of Volkswagen Passenger cars with responsibility for sales, marketing and aftersales.
“Volkswagen is a great brand,” he told us, “that needs to change and needs to future-proof itself.
“We are tight on time but we have lots of energy, I am very excited for Volkswagen’s future – but first, we have to fix the five or six million cars on the road (affected by the emissions scandal).
“This is one of the first and quickest ways we can being to rebuild customers’ trust in the Volkswagen brand.”
He also explained the rationale behind removing the ‘Das Auto’ tagline from the firm’s advertising. Today, it’s simply ‘Volkswagen’.
“We have dropped Das Auto because we want to go back to being a people-first brand. Volkswagen is a lifelong companion: we have to return it back to being the ‘people’s car’.”