Motor shows feature a lot of corporate self-promotion, on a grand scale. VW dispensed with the usual round of press conferences for its 11 launches (that’s 11 launches from seven brands) and held them all in one place on the night before the show.
It was a big event. 500-odd people gathered in a one-night-only amphitheatre at a cost of £850,000. Cars as diverse as the Bugatti Veyron GranSport and the facelifted Skoda Octavia were wheeled out (the Veyron slipping and sliding across the amphitheatre’s glossy white floor) in a reminder of the Group’s hugely diverse portfolio. Audi turned out an A4 that does 60mpg, and we even got a neat 4x4 Caddy van with windows, a kind of Teutonic version of the Kangoo Trekka.
All of this was for show, and as we left, workers were already dismantling the temporary structure, with its four bars and curved staircases and 50ft projector screen.
Sounds excessive, at a time when car makers are about to hit the buffers of the economic slowdown, and CEO Martin Winterkorn acknowledged that 2009 will be a difficult year. But this was a show of corporate strength from VW. Times are tough, it seemed to say, but we’ve got plenty of cash to spend and we’re not that worried. We’ll have to wait until next year to see if its confidence is justified.