Monday, March 03, 2008

Porsche's PR Disaster

Nobody could have imagined the PR disaster that sports car maker Porsche would stir when they publicly challenged London mayor Ken Livingstone's new C Charge proposals. And they couldn't have provided a better launchpad for our new campaign to push for tighter CO2 emissions standards for all car manufacturers.

First Dom Joly wrote a piece all about Porsche envy: "Weirdly, I don't actually mind Livingstone picking on Porsche drivers – not because I think he's correct about them being environmentally unsound; I think it's a drop in the ocean – but because pretty much everyone who owns one is a twat. I should know - I was one of them."

Joly continues, "I still don't know why I did it. I hate sports cars and Porsche was the symbol of every City moron that I hated back in the late-Eighties. It was the symbol that you'd "made it", that you were now a fully fledged cock, with your thick pinstripe shirts, Ray-Ban sunglasses and bulging Filofax."

Then I spotted a piece in a column by Simon Goodley where he writes: "It's a bloody cheek...Us Porsche owners are up in arms. We spend our bonuses on an expensive sports motor, so the last thing we want is to pay the same congestion charge as somebody with an effin' Toyota. We want the premium rate. I'm right with Ken on this one."

And now John Whitmore has enetered into the fray with his motoring editorial Charge of the selfish brigade. He writes, "So Porsche has decided to throw its toys out of its pram over the new London congestion charge for cars emitting more than 225g/km of carbon dioxide, and will attempt to overturn mayor Ken Livingstone's new London car constraint policy with a judicial review."

"This sham fit of populist pique fails to obscure the unbridled commercial self-interest that drives it, and reveals a corporate contempt for any form of public responsibility. Porsche claims that the £25 daily charge is "unjust", when it is not a justice issue at all, that it is a 3,025 per cent increase, which is irrelevant, and that it won't help to decrease vehicle emissions, which it will. The German sports car maker's stance comes across as a poorly conceived publicity stunt, and I don't believe for a moment that it is stupid enough to proceed with its threat."

Continuing, he writes, "It is because Porsche and other gas-guzzling manufacturers and their customers are less than fully responsible that congestion charges, speed cameras, speed humps and the like are deployed to curb their excesses. Now that man-made climate change is no longer deniable, there are no more excuses. Their behaviour is reminiscent of the US National Rifle Association, the cabal of gun manufacturers and gun-toting rednecks whose "right to bear arms" goes unchallenged by weak-willed or like-minded legislators, despite the horrendous number of gun deaths, as many from accidents as from crime."

We actually think Porsche bear a resemblance to ExxonMobile, who for a decade not only actively denied climate change was real and happening, but also prevented the US from signing up to the Kyoto Protocol.