After dominating the afternoon talk show circuit for 25 years, Oprah Winfrey is going out in style by giving each member of her studio audience keys to the as-yet-unseen 2012 Volkswagen Beetle. The promotion is part of Oprah's Ultimate Favorite Things giveaway, in which audience members are lavished with pricey surprise gifts of all descriptions.
Jonathan Browning, President and CEO of Volkswagen of America, confirmed that Winfrey reached out to the German automaker about the giveaway, saying that as an owner of the current VW New Beetle, the icon has long been one of her Favorite Things. The show, which aired moments ago on ABC, saw Oprah making the surprise announcement in front of a silhouette of the forthcoming model, and a current model New Beetle was featured on stage. While Browning admits that Oprah has been given a sneak peek at the completed car, her 275 lucky audience members will be in the dark about their new rides look until VW reveals it at a date to be determined this Spring (read: it won't be shown at the Detroit Auto Show in January). Audience members will receive their cars next Fall when VW's Puebla, Mexico plant begins production.
While VW officials declined to talk in detail about the 2012 Beetle, Browning did confirm that the new model will feature technologies like Bluetooth integration and a touchscreen, along with branded audio systems and ambient lighting. More importantly, Browning insists that the new model will have a decidedly sportier bent than previous iterations. The 2012 Beetle will feature available performance-minded items like a stiffer suspension, sport seats, 19-inch wheels and dual exhausts.
This more sporting attitude is interesting, in part because VW officials have previously indicated that they hope to 'degender' the new model (the New Beetle's image and ownership base has long skewed heavily female). Given this positioning, the decision to launch a major promotion with Oprah Winfrey may seem a bit curious, but VW knows that it will still need to woo the current New Beetle's core audience in order for the 2012 model to be a success.
Autoblog was able to confirm that not only will VW's TDI engines figure in to the model's plans, clean diesel technology will even be available in the Cabriolet model, making it the first modern oil-burning convertible sold in the States. The company's venerable 2.0-liter turbo gasoline engine will also be available, but there's no word yet about a dedicated high-performance model or a possible hybrid variant.
This is not the first time Oprah has given away new cars as part of her Favorite Things show – she famously handed over the keys to 276 then-new Pontiac G6 sedans back in 2004 as part of a $7.7M promotion. Nor is it the first time that the talk show queen has worked with Volkswagen – last year she gave away a pair of Routan minivans. Click through to the jump to watch video of Oprah breaking the news to her studio audience.
*UPDATE: Official VW press release added after the jump.
[Sources: Volkswagen, ABC News | Gallery Images: CarPix]
Oprah chooses All-New Beetle as one of her "Favorite Things"
HERNDON, Va. – Today on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Volkswagen revealed the design silhouette of its all-new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, and then shocked her audience – by giving each of them a 2012 Volkswagen Beetle.
The all-new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is an automotive icon, reinvented. The all-new, completely redesigned vehicle has been dramatically revolutionized by the same engineers and designers that brought the GTI and CC to life. After 12 years, the heart and soul of Volkswagen has evolved, exemplifying Volkswagen's engineering excellence, power, styling and sophistication.
Oprah owns and drives a New Beetle and asked Volkswagen to help her recognize the time, talents and contributions of select viewers by giving them one of her favorite things, a Volkswagen Beetle. As one of the most iconic vehicles in America, everybody, including Oprah has a Volkswagen Beetle story and this reveal kicks off the next chapter of a great saga. Volkswagen is donating two hundred seventy-five 2012 Beetles plus applicable taxes and fees, to each member of today's studio audience.
"Oprah Winfrey and the Volkswagen Beetle are two American icons, so when the "Oprah" show approached us with this incredible opportunity to share her Beetle experience with deserving viewers, we instantly wanted to be a part of it," said Jonathan Browning, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. "Our all-new 2012 Beetle exemplifies power, styling and sophistication, and is an automotive icon reinvented to create the new shape of performance."
As revealed today, the new Beetle will feature a sportier, more aggressive stance, and features sleeker styling and a wealth of new technologies that provide a heightened driving experience. It is also customizable, with options that will offer the performance, styling, accessories and features that will appeal to everyone from the driving enthusiast to the driver motivated by value, excellent fuel economy and nostalgia.
The 2012 Beetle will be revealed in the spring of next year and will be available in showrooms next fall. U.S. pricing is not yet set, but with trim packages and unprecedented personalization and customization options, the Beetle will offer the performance, styling, accessories and features that will ensure there will be a Beetle everyone.
The new design lines draw upon the vehicle's legacy, but the 2012 Beetle will be a true, performance driving machine perfected by German engineering, offering a wealth of technologies that will provide a heightened driving experience over the previous generation. The 2012 vehicle is sporty, aggressive and comes with Volkswagen's carefree maintenance and known safety standards. The vehicle will offer dual exhaust, 19-inch wheels, sport seats and new, sleeker styling. New technologies, like Bluetooth, touch screen radio, branded audio speaker systems, navigation and unique ambient lighting provide a heightened driving experience.
See photos and video from today's reveal on The Oprah Winfrey Show at media.vw.com.
About Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Eos, Golf, New Beetle, New Beetle convertible, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, CC, Tiguan, Touareg and Routan through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers. All 2010 Volkswagens come standard-equipped with Electronic Stabilization Program. This is important because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called ESC the most effective new vehicle safety technology since the safety belt. Visit Volkswagen of America online at media.vw.com or www.volkwagengroupamerica.com to learn more.