Don’t Look Now

As the World begins to face up to a growing climate emergency, the motor industry illustrates just how tone-deaf it has become.

Decadence: defined as a state of decay; a decline from a superior state, derived from the Latin, décadentia (dé denoting down and cadere, to fall)

The question of social responsibility is one with which carmakers have been (vainly) grappling for some considerable time now. Indeed, what little has been shown up to now appears to have been jettisoned by many in a heedless dash for market dominance.

This decadent spiral has (as we have previously discussed) taken corporeal form in the wholesale embrace of needlessly aggressive visual tropes and ‘to-hell-with-it’ consumption, and nowhere has this state been more vividly illustrated than amongst the three foremost rival German prestige marques; excesses not simply embodied in the vehicles these carmakers serve up, but also in the manner in which they are promoted.

That the subject of today’s examination stems from the fair hand of the Bayerische Motoren Werke might appear to some observers as having a vague whiff of the hobby-horse about it, but is I can assure you, coincidental – although while this could as easily be written about any of the German ‘big three’, one struggles to recall as striking an example. But market domination comes with its own set of responsibilities and thereby, a level of scrutiny perhaps avoided by other, less bloated entities.

The car in question is the 8-Series, a vehicle which has received a level of coverage on the pages of DTW which perhaps exceeds its merit; being in this author’s view, a rather undistinguished lump of a thing, lacking much of the grace one might have in the past associated with large, indulgent grand tursimos. But, (and please forgive the pun), that ship has sailed.)

The TV spot from which these images are culled, tells the story of a young car-mad boy growing up in a city of no cars – water-locked Venice. He dreams of driving through the streets of his home, but of course this is impossible. But in a moving mise-en-scène, and through the magic of advertising, dreams become reality and riding upon a pontoon roadway, his adult self achieves the seemingly impossible. Tissues at the ready folks.

Given the nature of the execution, horsefeathers is the adjective that springs most immediately to mind. That, and the blithe assumption that it’s clearly the result of some clever piece of computer animation – after all, in the wake of transforming Citroën’s and break-dancing Gene Kelly’s, we have become inured to car manufacturers’ increasingly elaborate attempts at capturing our attention while we searched for the hero inside ourselves. So the realisation that a carmaker has gone to the trouble of actually building a pontoon road through the centre of Venice, was truly unsettling.

Venice: A UNESCO World heritage site, this ancient city sits below sea level, prey to the tides and increasingly threatened by our rising oceans. This once hugely powerful city-state is renowned for its Renaissance architecture, antiquities and art. Venice sinks a little further each year and despite efforts to create a series of flood defences, continues to be at risk.

In advertising and marketing, context is all. So many factors can conspire to blunt your message, especially for a carmaker circa 2019. It is therefore germane for the marketer to keep abreast of the direction of wind travel. Now of course, the creative execution for The 8 would have been established sufficiently prior to announcement to ensure that all material – print, TV or online were in the can before it dipped a manicured toe into the public gaze.

With this in mind, it’s clear that this spot was dreamt up, storyboarded and filmed well before a certain Ms G. Thunberg emerged onto the front pages of the World’s media to spearhead perhaps the most serious existential threat to the current automotive hegemony yet.

But that’s no excuse. Because wherever one sits amid the current climate debate, it’s been known for some considerable time that serious, increasingly rapid and intense change is occurring to the world’s already volatile and fragile ecosystem. And lest we forget, Venice is sinking into the sea.

But secure in their closed-loop bubble, a group of senior car executives took the decision to commission, at costs that can only be guessed at, a road through the historic Venetian centre, past magnificent Renaissance pallazzi and under the Rialto bridge; a feat, which according to its makers, has never been achieved before. In Venice, which I surely don’t need to reiterate is sinking.

Certainly, teams of skilled technicians, artisans and filmmakers obtained gainful (and well remunerated) employment, along with the inevitable support crews such a lengthy shoot would have entailed. But for what? A short, entirely forgettable spot which could easily have been knocked up on CGI for a fraction of the cost in a fraction of the time, but more to the point, one which looks for all the world as though it has been.

Did the executives who signed off on this not realise how the symbolism of this venture might look? Because when one reads the press release for the campaign, while it mentions the subject of sustainable growth, it is purely in the context of sales – at no point do they make mention of the environment, to say nothing of the corporate social responsibility they so clearly require urgent lessons in.

Two of them incidentally no longer work at the Petuelring – former CEO, Harald Kruger having been ousted several months ago and former Brand SVP, Hildegard Wortmann, who late last year sashayed away to Ingolstadt, where her talents will undoubtedly flourish.

The irony of course is that in ceding the argument for the driver-piloted car, all cities could end up being somewhat akin to Venice – car-free zones – maybe not such a bad outcome really?

One further point – if your product is good enough, you don’t need the proverbial troupe of dancing girls to promote it, nor for that matter a pontoon road through the waterways of Venice.

The author is grateful to CB for the initial idea and the images thus appended. All photos © Bayerische Motoren Werke.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

38 thoughts on “Don’t Look Now”

  1. The advertisement perfectly represents the car: a crass, ugly and corpulent lump that thumbs its nose at an increasingly fragile and beleaguered environment. I’m shocked that the Venetian Consiglio Comunale allowed it, although I’m sure BMW paid handsomely for the privilege.

    Purely from an aesthetic perspective, why didn’t they do it with CGI? If they had, then at least the ugly pontoons wouldn’t be visible and the car could be seen simply driving along the surface of the water instead.

    1. This kind of ad seems to be the result of a crazy pitch that somehow got the green light. Great work for the agency, though… the creative director must have made a lot of friends.

      They could have just closed the road for a couple of hours in Miami Beach and filmed there – closer to their customers, and another place that will be consumed by the sea before too long.

    2. To my eyes, the action sequence in the advert actually looks like CGI with real-life, but non-descript enough interior shots cut in. The only moment containing the real car is when the man removes the cover. On top of that, the very first photo in the article seems to have the car ‘shopped in – the lighting on it seems a bit off and it’s not being reflected in the water…

  2. This article demonstrates just one thing: how easily people take offense these days. Exclusive locations unaccessible by car have been by car manufacturers for a long time, even for humble vehicles. And this includes UNESCO world heritage sites too. Here’s just one example.

    The argument for not being in tune with the times or the public opinion can equally be made for a vast amount of products over a long time as well. Nothing new here. One could even argue BMW is perfectly in tune with time as it was ranked the greenest car company in the Newsweek 2015 rankings.

    Also the hint in the last paragraph that a good product basically sells itself, is quite far removed from the truth. Companies need to spend decades in product development and promotion in order before they’re a household name. There are probably better ways in doing so than a pontoon road, but is that really relevant?

    And before you ask: I’m not offended by this article, nor the commercial, nor do I have any particular interest in the 8series.

    1. Context is everything.

      A blithe disregard for the environment and precious built heritage in the past is hardly a sturdy defence for carrying on as before, is it?

    2. Freerk is of course correct. I am offended.

      I’m offended by the fact that the ad is just so grindingly awful. That the premise is so risible I needed to actually read the press release (time I will never regain) to understand the storyline. Offended by the cynical sub-Cinema Paradiso aesthetic and characterisation, not to mention the awful MOR soundtrack, which is completely at odds with the visuals. The execution stinks like a dead skunk on a sunbaked highway. I’m offended by the fact that it cost millions to make, money which could have been more fruitfully spent (to paraphrase a fellow scribe) on sex dolls. And all for something which fails on so many levels I have neither time nor energy to list them out.

      I’m also a little put out by the seemingly implied suggestion here that we shouldn’t criticise the industry in this manner – that it’s nothing new, that there’s nothing to see here. I disagree. It wasn’t right when Peugeot was setting fire to cornfields to the soundtrack of ‘Take My Breath Away’ (Irony? Anyone?) and it certainly isn’t right now when BMW are building roads in Venice. And frankly, if Newsweek consider BMW to be the greenest car company (in 2015), I would (a) ask upon what basis Newsweek is qualified to adjudge this and (b) suggest that if this is the action of the Greenest car company, the industry really is doomed.

      Anyway, you’ll have excuse me. I’m off to bask in my newfound snowflake status. Now I’m offended by everything.

      Why how dare you sir!

    3. I’ll take this as an excuse to post one of my favourite ads, which is in a similar vein:

  3. At least five large car companies in the US have sided with Trump in backtracking on higher fuel efficiency standards.
    The joke will be on them when they are put back and they find themselves with an outdated fleet. In the meantime, more carbon dioxide will have been emmitted than if Trump had not taken a hatchet to EPA standards. I think Trump and the motor industry are out of step. Lately attitudes have changed to climate change even among conservatives, with a majority now thinking it´s a serious problem. This attitude is the norm among younger cohorts who are going to live with this problem. Despite having some bright people the US car industry and large chunks of the European car industry act as if they have a very low IQ or live on a different planet.

    1. Well this is one conservative that always believed and continues to believe that the CO2 climate “crisis” is total nonsense. Just like the “ozone hole” was bogus. Just like “acid rain” was bogus.

      Following the IPPC initial estimates in 1990, CO2 temperature models failed in the 1990s and 2000s. Temperature increases in 2017-19 do not revive these failed models, any more than 2007 inflation redeemed the Phillips Curve.

      Note that temperatures are still well below the initial 1990 IPPC forecasts.

    2. I find it interesting to compare and contrast to the auto industry’s response to the various fuel crises of the 1970s, which was to develop the aero cars of the 1980s.

    3. “the auto industry’s response to the various fuel crises of the 1970s, which was to develop the aero cars of the 1980s.”

      And those lightweight, high fuel efficiency cars were introduced in the mid-80s when oil prices had fallen to under ten dollars a barrel. Those cars especially for GM in North America were a huge failure, and a major contributor to GMs decline and eventual bankruptcy.

    4. Angel,

      Your opinion is your own but your science is utter junk.

      11,000 scientists today confirmed the IPCC findings – this is a climate emergency and human activity is responsible.

      You would need a very substantial list of credentials for me to take your opinion seriously, and even then it would be an outlier.

    5. I have zero time for US conservatives, deniers all. And here you blithely spout a huge load of rubbish. About consonant with advocating separate “frames” for cars.

      Acid rain was was bogus was it, Mr Martin? You should have been living in Nova Scotia in the 1980s — we get weather from the south and the west and were the dumping ground for US SO2 from coal-fired power stations. Our lakes went acid, fish croaked. Gradually as the US weaned itself off coal, our lakes became less acid. Not by themselves, by action. They’re still in poor shape.

      The ozone hole was “defeated” by the removal of freon as a propellant for spray cans, all refrigerators, all car A/C systems and wherever it was overused and disposed of thoughtlessly..

      That’s the IPCC, not IPPC, btw, and you seem to be quoting the usual bogus material from conservative web sites, carefully tuned to be invidiously incorrect and a sop for keeping things the way thwy are. All rubbish. Today, 11,000 scientists gave governments warning about CO2, which has now exceeded 415 ppm. Our coastline in NS is being ravaged by ever bigger storms, three this week alone, and our provincial government is alarmed enough to request assistance from the feds. We had the hottest summer ever this year.

      How do people like you sit around with their heads in the sand, pontificating away pulling nonsense out of your left earhole, and tell us we’re wrong, and you’re right? The evidence is overwhelmingly against you, and your “I’m all right, Jack” attitude. We have in Canada a province of land-locked idiotic conservative lubbers, Alberta, trying like mad to produce ever more oil from tarsands issuing nonsense exactly along the lines you assert. 6 million barrels per day of ersatz heavy oil, when our country uses about 2 million. The rest gets sent to the USA. The forces of the petrostate and oil companies happily intend to poison us all and the sooner the better, it seems. Dull souls, lacking any imagination whatsoever and trying to get the rest of Canada to be like them, because they understand only the here and now and the money jingling in their pockets.

      Your words are nonsense from beginning to end. And while you’re at it, why use Jim Rockford’s sleazy pal’s name from his show the Rockford Files for your online moniker? Cynicism seems inbred with that choice.

      I’m having none of your US conservative nonsense. Wake up and grow up.

    6. Failed forecasts are failed forecasts. It means that the modelling was wrong from the very start.

      Climate “scientists” finally acknowledged a “climate pause” in 2012 just as temperatures were starting to move up again.

      These guys do not know what they are doing. They are highly credentialed but false experts – all 11,000 of them. They keep making false predictions. Let’s check back in five years how well their latest forecasts track with reality.

      As for acid rain, there was an experiment in Liphook Hampshire where a grove of trees was heavily dosed with SO2 – and they didn’t get near the damage they expected.

      And, it turns out the “ozone hole” is seasonal, and the original research was based on part year results. Sort of like forecasting global warming from seasonal temperature increases.

    7. Angel,

      This surely isn’t the right platform for bogus science.

      As far as I am aware, none of us are climate scientists. Therefore, as in matters of medicine, astrophysics and many others, it is best to trust the considered view of experts, even if it makes for uncomfortable reading.

      I really have no time for ‘self-researched’ amateur opinion. The science is clear. The debate is about what we do about it.

  4. The corporate world is full of stupid ads. Getting too wound up over any one of them is a recipe for a life of frustration.

    On the climate “crisis”: the problem is that we are contemptuous of auto companies that don’t take the problem seriously; and then we fly to Spain for a vacation.

    1. Well, this is quite a day for me. To realise that not only am I a snowflake, but also a hypocrite. My cup runneth over…

    2. I don´t want to weight in too heavily (and I will do so anyway) but the scare quotes on crisis are very 2001. There is a big bloody problem so come up with functioning free-market solutions and not this spurious scepticism, thanks.

      Second, it´s pretty clear that as well investing heavily in doubt, climate deniers ensure that the problem is seen as related to private actions and as such it´s insoluble. Virtually everyone has a climate sin. Eoin went to Spain – that doesn´t mean he shouldn´t be worried and discuss the worry.

      The climate problem is a problem because about 500 people (the big CEOs and some political players plus some hedge fund managers) keep it so. They decide how we live. The blame´s on them. What we can do as individuals matters but it matters less than the obstructionism of Mercer, Koch, al-Saud, Dimon et al.

      Tragically, we´re a decade from fixing this if those f***ers would get out of the way. Capitalism is a fantastic mechanism for making money and innovating. Nothing works better. but the rent-seekers in Big Oil and other parasites are blocking it. Good old Schumpeter would have no difficulty recognising the obstacles to the necessary creative destruction that a switch to a low carbon world demands. While extolling the free market, big oil and its groupies jam its mechanism so they can hold on to wealth better allocated elsewhere.

      Hayak was concerned about the road to serfdom and he´d probably today be rounding on Koch Industries as much as Amazon and Uber.

    3. Hmm, there’s a lot of hypocritical virtue signalling on the part of those who demonize air travel,which is the only practical way of covering long distances*, and still make many unnecessary car journeys where public transport (or walking!) is a perfectly viable alternative. If the UK government was serious about discouraging such discretionary use, they should scrap the current system of taxation on private vehicles, which takes no account of mileage, and increase fuel duty to make up for the shortfall in revenue. I pay about 15p in road tax for every mile I travel in my Boxster, not a lot (or enough?) in absolute terms, but about the same that will be paid on a new Rolls-Royce Phantom travelling 15,000 miles a year.

      Unlike the vast majority of passenger cars on the road, aircraft, especially holiday charter flights, are usually flown with virtually every seat occupied. Moreover, airlines are hugely incentivised by competitive pressures to fly ever more efficient aircraft and that is the most important consideration for Boeing and Airbus in the development of new aircraft.

      * As Greta Thunberg, currently in Chile but needing to get to Spain, is finding out.

    4. I just checked, and Ms Thunberg is currently in Los Angeles and needs to get to Spain by 2nd December. Hasn’t she ever heard of video conferencing?

    5. Wow, I would’ve thought those kinds of angry (?) old white male ad hominem attacks on a little girl far beneath you.

    6. Good morning, Daniel. To be clear, I believe absolutely that man-made climate change is an existential danger to humanity and needs to be seriously and urgently addressed. I was merely pointing out that a practical, zero-carbon solution to Ms Thunberg’s current dilemma exists, whereas no such alternative exists for many air travel journeys. It is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to minimise our carbon footprint. That’s why my partner and I drove less than 4,000 miles in the past year. We never drive when we can take public transport or walk.

      Incidentally, I would never refer to Ms Thunberg, who is courageous, committed and mature beyond her years, as a “little girl”, even to make a serious point about the criticism she has faced. As to my age and ethnicity, you are, of course, correct, but how is this relevant?

    7. Haven’t had the time to see the ad, yet some of the angles/screenshots in this article were a trigger
      for me to add some thoughts on the topic
      of The 8’s styling.

      Whilst undoubtedly oversized and brash (the sociological aspects of its presence, “W140 effect” etc. won’t be a subject
      of this rambling at all…), its styling seems to fall a victim of the audience viewing it primarily as a BMW, which is, of course, justified up to a certain extent. But it does the car
      no favours at all:

      Its DLO appears to be a careful, studied ‘blending’ of the common denominator of all 911 gens’ DLO shapes,
      and a similarly dissected Mustangs’ generations “DLO-average”. It is borderline scientific,
      yet such approaches seldom yield ‘warmth’.

    8. Apologies, Daniel, I might have misread your statement. It’s only that it is usually old white men that exhibit a rather phallic relationship to their preferred mode of transport and resort to pseudo-revelatory statements with regard to Ms Thunbergs affairs to deflect from their own – uncannily similar to yours.

    9. No offence taken at all, Daniel. Actually, my reference to Ms Thunberg was, in hindsight, rather facetious, and my reply to you a bit peevish. I’ve apologised for the former below and do likewise for the latter now.

      DTW is a rare sanctuary of good manners and good sense on the Internet. Long may it remain so!

  5. In a way this ad is entirely in keeping with Venice’s not exactly illustrious history. This is exactly the kind of spectacle that the city fathers would have indulged in in the dying days of the Venetian Republic [Technology permitting], a kind of cake and circuses diversion to draw attention away from the Republic’s perilous future.
    I can’t help thinking that the character in this advertisement isn’t a true Venetian though, if he was he’d have lusted after a Riva Aquarama a far more attractive piece of kit, ten-a-penny in Venice or they were but still massively out of reach of most residents, let alone visitors.
    The Burghers of Venice however, Venetian through and through because the ultimate motivation never was ruling the Med or conquering the Turks… it was money!

  6. Anybody remember what it was like to be « upwardly mobile »? So eighties, darling! It won’t be too long before we are left wondering what personal mobility was all about.
    It is fact that were we all able to change our evil infernal combustion cars for electric suppositories tomorrow we would break the grid.
    Government has long seized the benefit of personal mobility and taxed it while simultaneously starving public transportation of investment, cashing in on that human desire to not have somebody else’s armpit in ones face while paying eye-watering sums for the pleasure.
    What price vanity?
    If we are serious about patching up the planet we need to rethink the entire model.
    The problem will be the sheer unpleasantness of it all.
    No more flights. No tourism. Face it, there are enough images of other folks homes out there to peruse. Who needs the hassle of going there?
    In fact, why move?
    As global is forced to become local, all these arguments about cars will seem insignificant.
    The New Order being ushered in by the Gretas of the world will brook no compromise.
    The criticism part is easy.
    Proposing a viable alternative will be the challenge.
    And personal mobility will be low on the agenda.
    Enjoy the past while it lasts..

    1. It´s not Greta Thunberg and those who agree with her that are uncompromising; one might as well accuse your doctor of being uncompromising when he suggests you risk lung cancer, heart disease and worse if you carry on smoking.

  7. Well what can I say except this has been most entertaining with even my other half joining in the laughter and she has zero interest things automotive.
    I truly hope Bill hasn’t blown a gasket!

  8. Good morning Richard.
    I actually agree with Greta, uncompromising or not.
    I dislike air travel, the changes wrought since 9/11 have made what was merely a bore deeply unpleasant. So I have taken to driving more than before to profit from my leisure time.
    My commute by train to work is approximately two hours of nastiness. By car, fifty five minutes of accident avoidance. I drive.
    I am thus a pariah.
    We are aiming for self sufficiency for all our five a day by 2022. At present we are at around 30% toward our target.
    I recycle and reuse religiously.
    My own car is an example of this. A 1975 Alfa Romeo that is now fit for another 44 years on roads it will probably never see. My efforts to ensure that its environmental impact is reduced by its longevity and sparing use will likely be obviated by a compromise that eliminates it from the road.
    I would rather forgo the drive to work and the holiday to maintain the sparing use of this vehicle.
    I think that my idea of compromise will not dovetail with the future at all well, however.
    The upside is that dimensionally it works well as sculpture.
    The nuance with your doctor’s diagnostic analogy is that one can ignore ones physician. You are ill advised to do so, but you have a choice. Climate change is already happening and is thus something unavoidable and impossible to ignore.
    To manage the changes necessary compromise will be made.
    The doctor’s pill will, I fear, be a bitter one to swallow.

    1. Much as I like cars as design objects, their moment has passed. I am a bit cross silicon valley is trying to fix the unfixable with their ludicrous autonomous vehicles.
      I will keep my XM as a bit of rolling sculpture. It is in much the same state as your Alfa. Have you been so kind as to show this car to us?

    2. Richard correctly called out the reprehensible behaviour of those with vested interests that, while paying lip service to the need for change, consistently obstruct such change
      Manufacturers of consumer durable goods are major offenders in this regard.

      A major contributor to CO2 emissions is the mindless consumerism of the First World that is actively encouraged by the manufacturers of such goods. How many people discard perfectly serviceable items, from smartphones to shirts to sofas, in order to “upgrade” to the latest technology or, even more ephemeral, fashion?

      Our house is 95% furnished with antique furniture and decorative items amassed over the past thirty years and we have never replaced anything on a like-for-like basis. We look after our possessions and, because they haven’t been “in fashion” for the best part of two centuries, there is no problem with them going out of fashion! The tablet on which I’m typing this is four years old and suffers from reduced battery life, but will remain in service until it becomes unusable. We typically keep our cars for a very long time, up to a decade, and have no intention of replacing the current pair until the efficiency and CO2 emissions of prospective replacements significantly outweigh the energy inputs for their manufacture. Given our ages and low annual mileage, that may be never!

      When I was a child, relative cost and scarcity of consumer goods encouraged a much more parsimonious mindset and there was no shame in living with “hand-me-downs”. Then came the consumer boom, fuelled by readily available (if not necessarily cheap) credit and attitudes changed. We visit our local auction room regularly and it amazes me how good quality, perfectly serviceable and often unblemished items of modern furniture sells for buttons (if at all) because of our obsession with new and distaste for anything second-hand.

      I’m not for a moment claiming to be a paragon of good practice, but we do everything practically possible to reduce our carbon footprint. Yes, we typically take half a dozen flights a year, but the alternative would be not to travel at all, since these are to places otherwise inaccessable.

  9. I’m a little uncomfortable with the way this thread has taken on the aura of the confessional or encounter group. For myself, I don’t particularly feel I have anything to be ashamed about, nor do I feel the need to disclose my carbon footprint. Like many people, I do my best. Could I do better? Most likely. Will I try? Probably. Will I be forced to in the years to come? Undoubtedly.

    I certainly am not and will not be cowed by the somewhat grubby inference that by taking a flight recently I am unqualified to comment upon the corporate responsibilities (or lack thereof) of large corporations – who contribute I surely need not add far more to the problem than an impecunious writer taking his first foreign holiday in over two years. (And yes I would say that, wouldn’t I?)

    I would also suggest that given the strong feelings this subject (like so many in this increasingly binary climate) engenders, neither side of this debate are likely to convince the other of the validity of their position. Bearing that in mind, could we keep the personal, be it references to Ms. Thunberg or commenters themselves out of the discourse? It’s unseemly and not what we’re about here.

    Meanwhile, amid the sturm und drang of the climate debate taking place below the line, I worry that the motor industry’s lack of responsibility slips away again, Scott-free – its augmented exhaust popping and farting as it goes.

    1. Eoin, you’re right, of course, and I apologise for my part in raising the temperature of this discussion. In hindsight, I should not have mentioned Ms Thunberg and I mean her absolutely no disrespect.

      I suppose it could be worse though: we could be arguing over Brexit…

    2. Separate from the issue of CO2 warming, is the question of how does a prudent automobile company respond to the regulatory and public opinion constraints.

      Especially in Europe, the auto co’s have a tough problem, because they are being forced by regulation to switch to powertrains that people have shown (by their current purchase choices) that they will not voluntarily choose.

      So, even if an auto CEO thinks that CO2 warming is total Horse-sh#t, they still have to operate in a regulatory environment where their vehicle carbon levels are going to go down.

      These are not small decisions. VAG alone has over 300K employees, 100 bil in market cap, 250 bil in debt. If VAG makes bad decisions and blows themselves up, there are many hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundred of billions of euros at stake.

      I see the extremes of how to deal with this represented by VAG and FCA.

      VAG has borrowed 80 billion euros and created an EV platform. FCA, for now, is relying on limited hybrids and buying carbon offsets from TSLA.

      VAG has taken the higher risk decision. Debt creates risk and dependency on expectations of the future actually coming true ! If VAG’s EV platform is a failure (for whatever reason), they will probably go bankrupt.

      FCA is NOT risking bankruptcy by not borrowing 80 billion to fund an EV platform. They can always do it in the future. Or they could buy TSLA – current market cap $60 billion: significantly cheaper than VAGs EV platform. Or they could just buy more carbon offsets.

      VAG has bet its future on the joint probability of all of the following being simultaneously true:
      -CO2 warming is actually happening
      -something real (rather than cosmetic) will actually be done about it
      -EV actually is the car of the future
      -their EV platform will be successful and not have first mover jinx (eg. de Havilland Comet)
      -global economy and vehicle sales won’t dramatically decline in the next few years

      That is a huge amount of risk. A lot of things have to happen as expected, and there are many points of failure.

      In my view, what VAG has done is absolutely irresponsible and the Board should never have authorized this strategy.

  10. Haven’t had the time to see the ad, yet some of the angles/screenshots in this article were a trigger
    for me to add some thoughts on the topic
    of The 8’s styling.

    Whilst undoubtedly oversized and brash (the sociological aspects of its presence, “W140 effect” etc. won’t be a subject
    of this rambling at all…), its styling seems to fall a victim of the audience viewing it primarily as a BMW, which is, of course, justified up to a certain extent. But it does the car
    no favours at all:

    Its DLO appears to be a careful, studied ‘blending’ of the common denominator of all 911 gens’ DLO shapes,
    and a similarly dissected Mustangs’ generations “DLO-average”. It is borderline scientific,
    yet such approaches seldom yield ‘warmth’.

    The slang its rear flanks use, silently but confidently,
    is also strongly reminiscent of aforementioned
    Muscle-car sculpture.

    Its profile seems to be studied so as to be the leading proverb of their future (still nascent) visual language, so to speak.
    The recurrent appearance of the Hofmeister amputation
    being one of the crucial telltales.

    The recent ‘The 3′ is also rather brave in departing with tradition – once the observers’ eyes get used to its tricky surfacing, and gets over the initial layer of ‘Dreier’ familiarity,
    beneath there’s a plethora of new visual idioms that clearly
    convey a message “These cars will look different,
    very different”.

    Back to this COUPE (capitals perhaps deserved by its size) :
    somewhere between its conscious departure from the
    traditional Bayerische beltline & profile convergence,
    (relying only on its front & rear end to convey a certain belonging to modern ‘BMW styling’ values) and the obvious quest to produce a DLO that’ll replicate the two iconic
    shapes mentioned above, its 2D appearance is caught short
    on individuality.

    Still, to me its profile looks rather fit for its commercial purpose, and not that displeasing to look at. Especially from some angles that underline the soft, voluptuous side sculpting
    (which is, again, also visible on the new ‘The 3’).

    Of course, once you take a good look from other angles, it’s
    difficult not to frawn about its signalisation components.
    At least the grille is not that absurd as on some of their
    other recent products.

    There is something about this design, though,
    that makes me anticipate it will age much better
    than the icing on its initial acceptance suggests.

    1. Al, thank you for this well argued “The 8” critique and for going against the grain! This outstanding quality and diversity of opinion, for me defines DTW.

      I have seen a few “8s” in reality now and I suppose I haven’t given them a chance to convince me. Disliking the latest BMW designs is a bit of hobby horse of mine too, I plead guilty.

      I think, “The 8” has never quite captured my imagination because, what it is trying to be, is for me much better encapsuled by the Lexus LC 500: a current day luxury coupé that is at the same time courageous and conservative, elegant and different. I think the LC500 will age much better than “The 8”.

      For what it’s worth: I love the Venice ad. Of course it’s absurd. But it’s (voluntarily or involuntarily) a true piece of art that will convey the hypocrisy and the genius of our day and age to our grandchildren in a way, few other 40 second video clips could.

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