Patronizing Chinese Volkswagen Ad Shows Us the Shape of Elite Future
El Reg has difficulty believing that this video of a VW concept hover-car in China is genuine: The premise of the video is this: VW decided to crowd-source ideas for concept cars in China – a branding exercise it dubbed the Peoples' Car Project (recalling, the genesis of the marque) – picked the hover-car out as its favourite, and actually built it. So says the advertisement: unfortunately, there's a fair swag of the population who don't much differentiate between advertising and reality. The result is a Twitter-storm of ZOMG! retweets of the link. According to the video, the mag-lev car gets its mojo from the huge amounts of magnetite under Chengdu, where the video is made. However, as I said, El Reg isn't convinced. We think it's a branding campaign. It's hard to believe that such a small package has a power-pack that packs enough grunt to lift a maglev car; its magnets interact with the quite-small environmental magnetism you'd get from any underground deposit, without disturbing bicycles (although the ad-makers have enough sense to send a can skittering across the ground – look near the dog at the two-minute mark). – Register
Dominant Social Theme: A hover car is in your future.
Free-Market Analysis: Earlier this month, the Register wrote about a VW advertisement that featured a brand new hover car.
It is not intended to be factual but ... amusing. And it is amusing. It is something more, though. It partakes in our view of several dominant social themes that the power elite has been flogging for years or even decades.
For the Register, an IT-oriented publication, the issue was whether or not the ad showed a genuine automobile – hover craft actually. A look at the ad will probably suffice to inform most that this sort of transportation is meant to purvey whimsicality rather than reality.
So let us examine the larger issues. First of all, the ad has been released in China. Thus any play it gets elsewhere merely reinforces the idea that China is a cutting-edge nation where superior technology plays itself out.
Second, much is made of the hover car's maneuverability. It is even indicated that the hover car could fly itself home without any guidance from the driver.
Third, the car itself is a kind of round wheel that is purposefully commuter oriented. The design forcefully conveys the idea that transportation is meant to be utile, not recreational.
Taken together, these points reinforce the power elite's ongoing narrative when it comes to cars. The idea is that in the future, cars will be more efficient than they are now but also less personal and less subject, therefore, to various kinds of personalization.
It is hard to visualize this car being customized by a youngster – as there is nothing much to customize. It is even hard to see the couple driving the car driving it out into the country. It seems like a determinedly urban vehicle.
It is this larger sense of a controlled, municipal orientation that is to us the most important part of this ad. Volkswagen wants to give the impression with this ad that the company is forward-looking and technologically advanced.
Unfortunately, the message that is apt to be received is much different than this. See for yourself.
(Video from TechnologicVehicles's YouTube user channel.)