VW Tells American Consumers: Up The Dieselution

Volkswagen of America is preparing the U.S. market for the return of a revamped common-rail diesel engine with a campaign that includes a national ad push and a road show called Dieselution Tour that is intended to educate both media and the public on advances in clean diesel and alternative fuels.

The four-month tour will hit environmental and alternative-fuel festivals, auto shows and the 2008 Super Bowl.

The Dieselution Tour, which presages the 2008 launch of the next-generation Jetta TDI (common-rail diesel), has interactive displays like an Alt Fuel/Alt Film video area; a Dieselab with a series of interactive and video displays; a Diesel Heritage section, illustrating Volkswagen's diesel history and a Carbon Footprint Calculator.

The effort also touts the relationship between Volkswagen and Carbonfund.org, The Carbon Neutral Project, in which VW is offsetting one year of carbon emission from each new Volkswagen sold in the U.S. through Jan. 2. Volkswagen of America is doing this partly through a program in which it is planting trees in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley in northern Louisiana.



Keith Price, the VW communications manager who oversaw the development of the tour, says the tour is "more conceptual in nature, rather than a retail push. We are here to talk about clean diesel as short-range solution within the larger perspective of long-term alternatives," he says, adding that the 20-week tour will have 20 anchor stops, and that other stops will include ski and snowboard shows, college campuses, and the Specialty Equipment Marketers Association show in Las Vegas.

Laura Soave, VW marketing manager, who says an advertising push for Jetta will roll out in the second quarter next year, says the Carbon Neutral Project with Carbonfund.org isn't promotional in nature. "It's how we are doing business, and it will be ongoing."

She says that with the fourth-quarter carbon-footprint efforts, "we are taking the time to kick-start the fund, but it will continue," adding that VW is speaking to consumers about the relationship via e-mail and statements to current owners, through the VW Credit department. The program is also the splash-page theme on the U.S. corporate consumer Web site, vw.com, where an animation shows a car rolling down the road with trees sprouting as the car passes. The company is also talking up its carbon footprint amelioration program at the consumer-run VW site, VWvortex.com.

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