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Red wins – How the auto industry sees itself, Pt. 1
by Thomas Wagner | 9/11/2009
Audi publicity

Let us not delude ourselves: Anyone who has seen one of the legendary red sportcars from Maranello racing along a road in the Campagna Romana, or lane-switching at high-speed in the streets of Manhattan or Hong Kong, or when somewhere along the Copa Cabana you hear the shrill whine of ten cylinders jacking up the revolutions per minute down by the beach, is hardly likely to have any truck with the post-fossil age of automobility, i.e., be satisfied with electric motors. Anyone whose heart has not suddenly beat faster en route to the racetrack, who was never attracted by the howling of the engines and quickened his pace, who was not transfixed by the smell of burning rubber, will quite simply find that the ads are out of date. The road is not a racetrack, they will all say, they being those who have always had morality on their side. And anyone who simply wants to fill a fuel tank with gas will find claims such as the following silly or even a danger to our youth: "Shell V-Power, Ferrari Fuel for the Road".

After all, all the fast boys nowadays, spoiled by their gaming consoles, tend to tear only through virtual realms in pursuit of their dreams of superiority and their need for speed. Driving a car simply means, however much common sense may object, burning up energy and experiencing acceleration. Here, the man/machine goes for thrills, irrespective of whether there's a combustion engine or an electric motor under the hood. But if la macchina is a Ferrari, then it is also definitely a contribution to culture and the aesthetics of speed.

Whether we like it or not, essentially we are all schizoid when it comes to driving cars. So why shouldn't car commercials be the same? We, too, go blazing down the autobahn and yet talk of decelerating the world we live in; we want to be fast and mobile, but not to notice the fact; and we want hybrids and electric cars so that everything can the remain the way it is - just a little quieter, a little more fuel-efficient, and only a little more rational or common-sensical.

Which means that the old battles persist. On the side the matador, on the other the challenger. Today they are still roaring gasoline-driven machos, but soon they will no doubt emit neither sound nor emissions. Thus, an Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro with a red paint job (and 525 hp, not to mention a top speed of 316 km/h) rolls slowly but noticeably through the streets of a small Italian town. People's attention is grabbed, they turn their heads to follow the red bullet, but not the way they would normally. Fists get clenched, mouth spit threats as people try to banish the intruder. When the Audi then accelerates it becomes obvious why there is such a commotion: "Maranello - City of Ferrari" are the words on the town sign, with the red bar across it marking the end of the town's limits. An Audi in Maranello, that is a neat number.

The futurist cat is still hissing, but soon it will be whispering or fall completely silent. Then you will only hear the engine in virtual mode through the cockpit's sound system and the streets will at long last be given over to the techno-blast of outsized Subwoofer. We will then have long since switched to rail tracks to travel and listed at 300 km/h to the 12-tone music of a Ferrari or a Lamborghini on our Ipods - and we will get quiet sentimental with all the nostalgia. As the cars will emerge from the eco-wars in a shape that will emulate the good old VW Beetle, with its 33-hp blasting it to a max. 115 km/h or the Morris Minor with an 27.5 hp engine that hit a top speed of 103 km/h, or the Opel Kadett, which with a huge 40 hp topped 120 km/h.

Audi publicity
Shell publicity
Opel Kadett