Volkswagen AG appears to be downing more bites of humble pie as it plans to revise its “Das Auto” advertising slogan to simply “Volkswagen” due to concerns over appearing too arrogant.
The move comes as the German automaker tries to claw its way out of the morass created by its diesel emissions scandal. The company’s public relations arm met with 2,000 senior executives in Germany recently to find ways to improve the company’s profile while debuting the effort it plans to introduce.
The new campaign doesn’t entirely replace the 8-year-old “Das Auto” slogan, VW executives told Reuters, but it will be the primary tagline.
“Wherever our logo appears in future, it will be backed by the new brand slogan ‘Volkswagen’,” which will be a global initiative,” a PR executive told Reuters. “‘Das Auto,’ which has been with us since 2007, was thought to be ‘absolutist’ and too ‘pretentious’ by carrying connotations that only VW could define what a car is.
“Nor did it fully convey the move toward more technology in conventional vehicles, and EVs. ‘Das Auto’ isn’t totally dead yet, but we don’t expect to see much of it.”
VW’s latest move is part of a larger wave of actions to show the automaker understands the impact of its actions. Many have pushed the maker to move more quickly with the announcement of its plans to fix the affected vehicles or deal with the possibility it may need to reimburse owners for the lost value of their vehicles.
However, VW has been very deliberate in its moves to ensure it only needs to make one “correction” rather than jumping around creating even more distrust with consumers. Prior to the advertising change, the maker brought in attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who just wrapped up the victim’s compensation fund program for General Motors.
(VW hires victim compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg. For more, Click Here.)
The automaker established a $600 million fund for the victims and families of those killed or injured as a result of the automaker’s faulty ignition switch. Feinberg and his team oversaw the establishment and administration of the fund.
Feinberg also oversaw compensation funds following the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“His extensive experience in handling such complex matters will help to guide us as we move forward to make things right with our customers,” said Michael Horn, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America.
Volkswagen has admitted cheating on emissions tests involving its 2.0-liter turbodiesel by using a so-called “defeat device” to significantly reduce pollution when the vehicle determined it was undergoing testing. It has separately acknowledged using illegal hardware in its 3.0-liter diesel models. All told, more than 500,000 sold in the U.S. were impacted by the subterfuge.
(VW planning to show “completely new” battery-car at CES show next month. Click Here for details.)
The maker has since been hit with over 450 separate lawsuits filed on behalf of vehicle owners, shareholders and dealers. Most of those legal actions will be consolidated and heard by a federal judge in San Francisco. All told, the German automaker will have to defend itself against claims that could push into the billions of dollars.
VW has already taken steps to try to assuage U.S. customers. It is offering owners of vehicles equipped with the 2.0-liter diesel $1,000 in gift cards and credits at its dealerships.
The maker has not said specifically what sort of payout it will offer through the new fund, and it is likely to take “60 to 90 days” to figure out what compensation might be offered to those owners impacted by VW’s cheating.
VW has so far set aside more than $7 billion to cover costs, while also lining up $20 in credit from a consortium of banks. It has, meanwhile, made sharp cuts in spending plans and delayed or eliminated a variety of projects.
(VW report blames small group for diesel cheating. Click Here for the maker’s interim internal report.)
By some estimates, VW may eventually have to spend over $50 billion to put the diesel emissions scandal behind it. There are additional lawsuits overseas. The maker could face $18 billion in EPA fines over the 2.0-liter diesel rigging alone. And the U.S. Justice Department could seek additional penalties to settle its ongoing criminal probe.