The emissions scandal has truly played out like a Greek play; first there was tragedy, now comedy.
During a press conference for their recently unveiled ‘turbocharged’ Up! city car, Volkswagen board member Juergen Stackmann was interrupted by a protestor who came on stage to fix a ‘cheat box’ to the vehicle – a not-exactly subtle nod to the emissions scandal that continues to pollute the air surrounding Volkswagen.
The comedian – though we use that label rather generously – is none other than notorious prankster Simon Brodkin, who also goes by the alias of Lee Nelson, and this is not his first time involving himself in a scandal. He previously interrupted a FIFA press conference to throw cash over the chairman who was currently involved in a fixing scandal himself, and he even crashed the stage at Kanye West’s controversial Glastonbury headlining gig.
Taking to the stage dressed in Volkswagen-emblazoned overalls, the ‘comedian’ addressed Stackmann saying “No one’s going to find out about this one” as he then bent down and attempted to ‘fix’ the device to the car. For what it’s worth, Stackmann handled the situation with more grace and humour than the majority of the VW Group have shown since the scandal emerged last year. He laughed off the stunt and told the crowd “”It doesn’t need repairs. It’s a perfect car. Thank you very much.”
Though the stunt reeks of attention seeking from a Z list comedian, it is surely an annoyance to the company who were treating this year’s Geneva Motor Show as a sort of rebirth. VW Group CEO Matthias Mueller has been announcing his confidence that the company will win back the trust of their consumers and that talks with the United States were steadily improving, yet moments like this only remind the public of what the company are trying so hard to leave behind – which is nearly eleven million vehicles worldwide fitted with devices that allowed them to knowingly emit over forty times the acceptable pollution limits.
Though Volkswagen were probably not too pleased with the stunt, with billion dollar lawsuits still pending in the United States and no agreed solution to fix over 600,000 vehicles on the horizon, we imagine this joke is one thing they found easy to laugh off.