The gathered audience at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show didn't have much time to take in the subversive gesture, as board member Juergen Stackmann, who was presenting the car smoothly responded, "It doesn't need repairs. It's a perfect car. Thank you very much." A beat later, security staff removed the comedian and the press conference continued.
Volkswagen's diesel woes have had a deep impact on its image, and the carmaker has made numerous public acknowledgements and apologies about the flop, promising to fix the issue and restore consumer confidence in the brand. Stateside, a federal judge recently put further heat on VW, setting a deadline of March 24 for a plan to fix the nearly half-million diesel vehicles in the US that are affected by the cheat.
Unlike previous protests, the Geneva incident is notable because it literally took place on Volkswagen's stage. If this type of lite corporate terrorism has any immediate effect on the auto show circuit, it's one of paranoia: subsequent press conferences at VW Group brands like Porsche saw what appeared to be increased security, with guards facing the audience like security detail at a rowdy concert. But perhaps the ultimate irony is that protestor chose to target a miserly hatchback with a gasoline-burning, 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine that claims 53.6 mpg and 102 g/km of CO2 emissions.