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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: September 27, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

    Paris protest is a victory for VW and new Golf

    Michael McAleer

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    It’s perhaps a reflection of the introspection of the motor industry these days that with the European market in the doldrums, the most talked about event of the first day of the Paris Motor show will be the banner that Greenpeace managed to unfurl during the Volkswagen press conference.
    It was a bit of a PR coup, but in some ways its a win-win for both.
    Greenpeace prove once more that they can get their message across despite security. But it hardly compares with their recent endeavours in France where they managed to sneak into a nuclear power station. The message they were trying to get across is that VW needs to come onside with moves to set low emissions targets for car firms.
    However their point was rather weakened by the fact that their protest took place during the launch of the VW Golf, which boasts in its fleet variants that achieve sub-99g/km in CO2. The eponymous brand from the car giant is in fact making great strides to reduce emissions. The Greenpeace ire is with the group and the overall averages are being pushed up by the fact that VW is a sister brand to supercar – and big emitters – like Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini. Their stands were untroubled with protests.
    For Volkswagen it’s not as bad in terms of PR as it might appear. The fact is the brand is making major strides to lower emissions. What’s more, the new Golf and its emissions will get far wider coverage because of the protest than its marketing team could have hoped.
    Take the caption on the Getty image that is appearing on many websites: “Greenpeace flag is suspended from the ceiling during the presentation of the new Golf VII at the Paris Auto Show on September 27, 2012 in Paris, France. Volkswagen is hoping the new Golf will help the company to overtake GM and Toyota as the world’s largest automaker. (Photo by Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images)”.
    People expect Greenpeace to protest and will be drawn to the story by the cheekiness of it. But what they take away from this is that their’s a new Golf out and if they read further into most stories, they’ll learn from the response from VW that the car has only 99g/km in emissions. Green supporter or not, one of the first things that will come into consumer minds is likely to be “that will mean low motor tax”.
    So it’s another win for Greenpeace but in its way it’s another win for VW and its new Golf, which for those eco-warriors who are wondering, will be in showrooms in Ireland from December. And with that sort of emissions it will be one of the cleanest family hatchbacks on the market.


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