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Greenpeace gatecrashes Volkswagen launch

Date

Environmental group unhappy with fuel efficiency improvements in new generation Golf.

New Volkswagen Golf.

New Volkswagen Golf.

''It's lame. It's disappointing.'' Probably not the verdict Volkswagen was looking for when it launched the new Golf small car at a glitzy event in Berlin this week. Then again, the caustic assessment of the next generation of Europe's most popular car came from an unlikely source: Greenpeace.

The environmental activists are up in arms at the fuel consumption of the new Golf, claiming it isn't good enough. Protesters gatecrashed the Golf launch as part of a continuing campaign against the German maker.

Last year, they produced their own Star Wars advertisement that claimed that VW had gone ''to the dark side''.

The protest must have come as a rude shock to the car maker, especially as it had just unveiled a fuel-sipping diesel version of the car that uses less fuel than that darling of the Hollywood environmentally conscious, the Toyota Prius hybrid. And a lot less than those Russian icebreakers with the helicopter on the back.

Mild case scenario

On the surface it seems like the perfect cross-promotion: a beer company releasing a commemorative carton for the 50th anniversary of the Bathurst 1000. After all, we're pretty sure the Great Race is the only sporting event on the planet where the alcohol limit is one case (yes, that's right, 24 cans) of beer a person each day.

But it seems that Coopers - the ''exclusive beer partner and major sponsor of V8 Supercar racing'' - hasn't really done its homework on the event's target market.

The Bathurst pack contains 20 specially labelled cans of Coopers Mild Ale 3.5. Now, any Bathurst aficionado will tell you those numbers are all wrong. For a start, only 20 cans in a pack will mean racegoers will be four cans a day short of their legal entitlement - for the true believers, that works out to roughly 20 cans short of a good time during the course of the event.

The second - and potentially more serious - affront to racegoers' sensibilities is the number 3.5, which denotes mid-strength beer. To borrow from Monty Python's Bruce, mid-strength beer is like making love in a canoe - it's effing close to water. What other sacrilege is planned for this iconic event? Next they'll be letting those bloody Nissans race again.

Mistaken identity

It seems there are very few trainspotters or car nuts in the NSW Police Force. Earlier this week, the boys in blue put out an all-points bulletin about a stolen Porsche K9. Further inquiries by the paper's crime reporters established that this wasn't some special-purpose German supercar designed to accommodate the dog squad, but a garden-variety Cayenne SUV.

It's the latest in a string of mistaken identity cases involving cars. Earlier this year the police media unit mistook a Mitsubishi 380 for a Magna and before that a Mazda 323 for the later-model Mazda3.

We're not sure if the incidents are related, but not long after the K9 fiasco, Drive received an invite to the handover of a Porsche Panamera to the police for ''community events and activities''. Stand by for a police press release on its new ''Porch Panama''.

Oz and them

Those decrying the level of government assistance to the Australian car industry might like to look overseas. Reports from Japan this week suggest car sales in the land of the rising sun are about to fall off the edge of a cliff this month as the latest round of buyer subsidies expire.

And just how much has the government pumped into their industry to keep it going? Only $3.7 billion. Of course, that pales into insignificance when you look at the estimated $US80 billion ($78 billion) pumped into Detroit by the US government.

Earlier this month, the US Department of the Treasury admitted that $US25 billion of that couldn't be recouped. And there's the little matter of the 26 per cent share in General Motors still held by the government. GM shares are trading for about $US20 - it's estimated that they would need to be trading at $US53 for the government to break even on a sale.

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