Face is a key part of Japanese culture, so despite the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal not directly affecting any models sold here at the Tokyo motor show, the collateral damage to the brand here is still huge.
I’ve heard a rumour that Volkswagen has canned its press conference completely at the upcoming Los Angeles motor show to avoid a press pack that can smell blood, but that wasn’t an option here in Tokyo. Music had to be faced.
VW Japan boss Sven Stein opened his address to the world’s automotive media with an apology. And quite a long one at that. He even said the word sorry a lot.
VW, which has sold 600,000 vehicles in Japan in more than 60 years in the territory, doesn’t sell diesel models here, but had intended to do so. Stein said that was now on hold, pending a review. No surprises there. “Japanese customers must feel confident in VW,” he said.
Next up was Herbert Diess, VW’s CEO, who also grovelled before promising to “uncover and disclose” what exactly happened, and “to make sure it never happens again”.
He also spoke publically on the recently announced plans to relaunch the Phaeton as an all-electric model, launch a new modular platform for all-electric vehicles, add a plug-in hybrid model to every VW in the range, and increase the roll-out of smartphone integration into its cars to make them more connected.
There was not a mention of diesel in this “new” VW from Diess, however. Telling.