The video clip was withdrawn but not before being posted back elsewhere on social media. It showed a large white hand pushing a black man away from a parked VW Golf, before flicking it into a restaurant called Petit Colon, which was translated from French as Little Colonist or Little Settler.
“We posted a racist advertisement video on Volkswagen’s Instagram channel,” VW brand sales and marketing chief Jürgen Stackmann and diversity group leader Elke Heitmüller said in an apology posted on social media. “We understand the public’s anger at this. Because we are also horrified,” they added.
“On behalf of Volkswagen AG, we apologize to the public at large for this film. And we apologize specifically to those who feel personally hurt by racist content because of their own history.”
It was founded in 1937 under the Nazi regime and used slave labor from concentration camps to build vehicles in its early years. Now the largest car manufacturer in the world, sending nearly 11 million vehicles in 2019. The group makes cars under the brands VW, Audi, Skoda, Seat and Porsche.
Stackmann and Heitmüller described the video as “an insult to every good person.”
“We are ashamed and cannot explain how it happened. There are more and more reasons for us to ensure we resolve this. And we will make the results and consequences of a public inquiry,” they added.