Volkswagen's biggest fear: a cup of tea and a chat

Posted by jamess — 8 December 2011 at 12:33pm - Comments
"Everybody talks about the climate. VW ruins it"
All rights reserved. Credit: Bente Stachowske / Greenpeace
Our Beluga ship in front of VW's HQ in Germany ("Everyone's talking about the climate. VW's ruining it")

If you were poised to be the biggest car company in the world raking in annual profits of £5bn, you think you'd feel pretty confident about yourself.

Even if you felt a little insecure, a cool £1.5bn advertising budget could iron out some of the less-than-savoury aspects of your appearance. Besides, £1.5bn buys a lot of botox.

Well none of it seems to be helping Volkswagen, the car giant at the centre of efforts to stop us getting more efficient (and less polluting) cars.

Martin Winterkorn - VW's head honcho - is intimidated by that most menacing of experiences: a conversation with Greenpeace. Five months into this campaign and Winterkorn is stubbornly refusing to sit down with us to talk.

You may remember how he dodged us in Brussels, well now he's cancelled a meeting in Wolfsburg which was scheduled for next week.

The official reason is that we turned up in Wolfsburg wanting to talk to his employees.

Our friends in our German office took one of our Greenpeace ships, the Beluga, down to VW's headquarters in Wolfsburg offering drop-in sessions for employees to talk about issues like oil, transport and climate change.

So we wanted just a chat, on a chair, with maybe a cup of tea and a biccy.

But that was too much for Winterkorn (the company Darth Vader, if you will) who ordered his minions to cancel our scheduled meeting. Us chatting to his employees was deemed a step too far.

Darth.. err, I mean Mr Winterkorn, heads the company with the greatest influence over the CO2 emissions of future vehicles, so we'll continue protesting against VW until they change (join our campaign to turn Volkswagen away from the Dark Side).

As for the meeting, you've got to ask why VW's boss keeps avoiding us. Some of us believed Winterkorn when he said he wanted VW to be the "most eco-friendly automaker in the world". Yet after five months of still refusing to sit down at a table with Greenpeace campaigners you start to wonder. Particularly when our campaigners have said they're happy to meet him at any time, anywhere. What's there to hide?

What do you think Martin Winterkorn's fear is? Let us know in the comments.

You can also get on VW's Facebook page and ask them directly by adding comments to their posts.

Update: check out the video from our activities in Wolfsburg:

Interesting when you call VW's head office they don't want to talk about lobbying at all. They just point to the handful of efficient cars they produce as evidence of their green credentials.

Some of the comments here seem to be reading off a similar briefing sheet.

This campaign isn't about those cars (a tiny minority of what Volkswagen sells), it's about the company - where VW puts its lobbying muscle.

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