The video clip was retired but not before it was republished elsewhere on social media. It showed an oversized white hand pushing a black man away from a parked VW Golf before throwing him into a restaurant called Petit Colon, which he translates from French as the Little Colonist or Little Colonist.
“We posted a racist video ad on Volkswagen’s Instagram channel,” VW brand sales and marketing chief Jürgen Stackmann and diversity group leader Elke Heitmüller said in an excuse posted on social media. “We understand public outrage over this. Because we too are horrified,” they added.
“On behalf of Volkswagen AG, we apologize to the general public for this film. And we apologize in particular to those who feel personally hurt by the racist content because of their history.”
The company was founded in 1937 under the Nazi regime and used slave labor in concentration camps to build vehicles in its early years. It is now the largest automaker in the world, offering nearly 11 million vehicles in 2019. The group manufactures cars under the VW, Audi, Skoda, Seat and Porsche brands.
Stackmann and Heitmüller describe the video as an “insult to every decent person”.
“We are ashamed of it and cannot explain how it happened. All the more reason for us to be sure to clarify this. And we will make the results and consequences of the investigation public,” they added.
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