Chris Bangle Presents BMW's "Axis of White Power"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
chris bangle presents bmw s axis of white power

I've got a couple of bones to pick with BMW designer Chris Bangle. First, I reckon the "flame surfacing" design style that he's inflicted on the brand since the 2002 7-Series has trashed the sina qua non of German automotive elegance. Second, the Ohio-born Bimmer big-wig's insistence on pronouncing perfectly good English words with a German accent (e.g. "owtowmobile" and "schport") strikes me as the worst sort of pistonhead-goes-to- art-school pretentiousness. And now Bangle's really bungled it. On BMW-web-tv, Bangle waxes lyrical about his employer's Geneva auto stand. Ten seconds in, Bangles says "It's kind of an axis of white power here; there are really strong white cars." Now we're not suggesting that Bangle's racist, or that BMW's lack of minorities in their upper executive echelons reflects any kind of ethnic or cultural insensitivity. But that's certainly not the kind of comment you'd expect a car executive to make off the cuff– or fail to realize he had made and order it struck from the record. And the fact that Bangle's axis of white power comment made it onto BMW's website tells us they lack English-speakers, political sensitivity or both. Just sayin'.

[TTAC scribe Martin Schwoerer has kindly uploaded the clip onto YouTube.]

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  • Cthulhu Cthulhu on Sep 25, 2007

    If I was offended by the mentioned words, I´d first of all leave out terms like "Krauts", "teutonian" etc. And who still cares about what was done in the name of BMW more than 60 years ago should also think about British, U.S., French and whatever companies with long tradition which maybe once were making benefit out of slaves and colonialism. Also nowadays companies make good profit out of modern slavery in east Asia. Anyway, to the discussion: It is so tiring to see that a certain bunch of peaople is only waiting for the chance to misinterpret something in order to make a large fuzz about PC. Especially, when taking this really harmless video. That`s rediculous, really. Sonds a bit like muslim fundamentalists burning flags because of some cartoons. And in comparison THEY were meant offensive! I especially like that BMW is leaving the vid in the internet and refuses any comment to the absurd accusations. Go on BMW!!!

  • Martin Schwoerer Martin Schwoerer on Sep 25, 2007

    Cthulhu: "teutonian" is not an insulting term. BMW has apologized. And they have now taken the video down.

  • Youruberfriend Youruberfriend on Sep 25, 2007

    Robert Farago (From TTAC) blogged on how insensitive this "axxess of white power" comment was from Bengle, but give me a break. Had an asian automaker said the same thing, no one would have thought twice about the comment. Why? There's always been some sort of ethnocentrism when it comes to build quality and cars. Farago also mentions that since Bengle moved to Germany, there's no excuse to pronounce English words with a German accent. Since when is this considered taboo? Farago, I think your hatred of the designs post 02 have clouded your judgement completely on BMW and Bengle.

  • JonnyU JonnyU on Sep 26, 2007

    I’m sorry, but did anyone actually watch the video? The article mentions that ‘ten seconds in, Bangles (meaning: Bangle) says “It’s kind of an axis of white power here; there are really strong white cars.” What the article didn’t mention, however, was that those first ten seconds were devoted to an introduction in which the BMW Motorsport division’s very high-powered WTCC and F1 program cars – all of which are painted white, with red and blue stripes, BMW’s traditional racing scheme – were referenced before proceeding to a discussion on the similarly high-powered BMW ‘M’ brand vehicles also being displayed. Further, as we all recall from other recent uses of the phrase ‘axis’, it is a reference to a ‘group’ or ‘alliance’ and in this context clearly refers to the number of white BMW racing vehicles also in attendance at the ‘M’ display. That the author opens with an unrelated commentary on his personal feelings for Bangle and for BMW’s current styling direction, which is wrongly tied solely to him – as teams of designers from both inside and outside the company actually compete for their design to be chosen by BMW’s board for each new car – clearly indicates the true motives for use of this misrepresented comment. A true shame, though I very highly doubt that Bangle will be going anywhere – BMW has sold more of the ‘Bangleized’ cars in each year than the whole of each series' previous production. …by the way, did you like the first X5?