Volkswagen, which suffered greatly from the Dieselgate scandal of 2015, is in hot water again.
This time the controversy stems from a social media ad with racist themes that the German carmaker posted for a new vehicle.
The company initially defended the ad on Instagram, according to the Telegraph. But it issued a statement of apology to the Associated Press amid a torrent of criticism on Twitter and Instagram, where the video aired.
The 10-second spot shows a big white hand pushing a black man away from a new Volkswagen Golf parked on the street, then moving him to an open doorway and tossing him inside a French cafe, the AP reported.
As the German-language slogan “Der Neue Golf” (The New Golf) comes into view, the arrangement of letters first appears to be a slur for black people.
The cafr is named Petit Colon, which means the “Little Colonist” in French.
According to the Telegraph, Volkswagen’s initial response said the "origin of the people depicted is irrelevant" and that the company opposed "all forms of racism, xenophobia and discrimination.”
It added, "as you can imagine, we are surprised and shocked that our Instagram story could be so misunderstood." VW announced it was pulling the ad.
The statement to AP was more apologetic. “We can understand the outrage and anger,” VW said.
“Without question the video is inappropriate and tasteless. We will clarify how something like this could happen, and there will be consequences.”
Given its origin during the Nazi regime, VW has always sought to “position itself against all forms of racism, xenophobia and discrimination,” the automaker said.
“Many initiatives in the company and in our global workforce promote diversity, integration and unprejudiced cooperation,” Volkswagen said. “That makes it all the more annoying that we made this mistake.”