The auto industry has been besotted by social media for years now.
As soon as car makers got a whiff of Facebook and Twitter, they took to the social airwaves, the better to interact with customers both existing and potential.
Now Volkswagen has taken that social fixation to a new level with what it claims, fairly I think, is the first vehicle whose name is also a hashtag.
It’s called the #PinkBeetle limited edition, and forgetting for a moment that the whole hashtag-as-marketing-hook aspect seems a bit 2010, let’s focus on the truly astonishing thing that VW has done here.
It isn’t the hashtag thing — it’s the pinkness of the car.
The #PinkBeetle (the technical name for the colour is “Fresh Fuchsia Metallic”) will be available in coupe and convertible variations, and the interior will get the borderline garish plaid upholstery, also pink, that VW fans know from the GTI.
Ever since the New Beetle was introduced in the late 1990s, reviving the legendary Bug that sold in the tens of millions in the 1960s and ’70s, VW has fought the impression that it’s a car only women are interested in.
The common auto-writer term of derision is the offensive “chick car.” A redesign about five years ago was supposed to make the Beetle more masculine, but the whole #PinkBeetle concept suggests that VW is throwing in the towel on this foolish fight.
We knew this was coming: the Pink Beetle concept was introduced at the New York auto show in 2015. The car is heading into production, and VW hasn’t gotten specific about pricing, but the current Beetle can be had in a base version for about $20,000.
It’s really about time that VW embraced the Beetle’s less-than-universal appeal. And it’s worth noting that pink hasn’t always been a “feminine” colour in the car business. During the exuberant 1950s, we had pink Cadillacs — in fact, Elvis Presley owned the most famous one. Pink is cool and always has been, pop culturally, and there’s no question that the #PinkBeetle actually looks pretty snazzy in the colour, even if it’s really fuchsia.
But #FuchsiaBeetle is a terrible hashtag.
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