A search on Google Maps for Volkswagen’s office in Södertälje, south of Stockholm, brings up a picture of a non-descript gray building featuring “Volkswagen” emblazoned over the main entrance.
But what really catches the eye is the compact gleaming red car parked just outside.
While one might at first expect to see a Volkswagen Golf or Beetle, the car hogging the limelight in the Google Street View image is actually a Fiat 500.
The eye-catching juxtaposition of the rival auto brands, first described on Tuesday by Swedish media trade publication Resumé, was quickly praised by
Jalopnik, a major US automotive blog.
“Fiat zinged their rival good,” the blog hailed.
“Volkswagen will likely have to deal with that damn Fiat in front of their building for a year or more. The question is, how did Fiat know?”
The answer, at least according to Marcus Thomasfolk, the primary spokesperson for Volkswagen in Sweden, is simple.
“They didn’t,” he told The Local.
According to Thomasfolk, the fact that the Fiat was there when the Google Maps vehicle snapped a photo of Volkswagen headquarters was “pure coincidence”.
“I’ve spoken with my counterpart at Fiat and he indicated that Fiat didn’t have anything to do with putting the car there,” he said.
“It’s not strange for cars to be there. It’s a driveway and people are always driving up and dropping people off.”
Thomasfolk downplayed the PR headache that may be caused for Volkswagen by Google users happening across a model from a rival brand, calling the image “kind of a fun little thing”.
He went on to suggest that the image may tell somewhat of a different story than that of a renegade PR stunt by Fiat.
“My guess is that the owner [of the Fiat] was in such a hurry to run in and look at some of the new Volkswagen models inside that they left the car parked in sort of an odd place,” he quipped.
The Local’s attempts to reach a Fiat spokesperson for confirmation of Thomasfolk’s account have so far been unsuccessful.