Posts falsely claim photo shows world’s first transparent car made by Germany

The viral photo actually depicts a car mock-up from a 2015 auto show

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Claim: Germany has launched the world’s first transparent car.

Fact: The world’s first transparent car has not been unveiled by the German car company, ZF Group.

Fact or Fiction?

On 31 December 2021, Facebook page Unknown Knowledge shared this photo claiming it to be of the world’s first transparent car launched by Germany.

The post went viral on social media and the news was then picked up by other Facebook pages, including Civil Engineering Ideas, Startup Pakistan, Architecture & Engineering, among others.

Soch Fact Check conducted a Google Reverse Image Search to trace the image and found that a similar photo had been shared by Getty Images as well. 

However, that photo is accompanied by the following caption:

“A transparent safety display vehicle sits on display at the ZF Friedrichshafen AG exhibition stand at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany, on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015.”

This indicates that these are old photos circulating on social media once again.

To verify this, Soch Fact Check got in touch with the global technology company, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, also known as ZF Group.

Dr. Jochen Mayer, External Communications (VCCE) at the ZF Group, confirmed: “The ‘translucent car’ you see on the picture was an exhibit that we presented (in this case) at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA).

It is a mock-up only that shows different car components out of ZF’s portfolio because these parts are usually invisible, hidden by the autobody. This mock-up gives us the opportunity to present them to the public. As a supplier company, we do not build and sell cars (and we neither did in our past).

Interestingly, most Facebook pages used the same thumbnail image in their posts — the image features a man sitting in the translucent car. They also carried the story in question with the same or very similar headlines.

Virality

A CrowdTangle analysis conducted by Soch Fact Check revealed that over the  past one year, the search term “World’s first transparent car Germanyhas garnered 256,220 interactions across 54 posts.

The analysis further revealed that , the oldest Facebook post to feature the photo of the translucent car since the beginning of 2015 dates back to 18 September 2015. Unknown Knowledge’s post gained significant traction, receiving 181,300 likes, 1,700 comments and 15,500 shares, as of this point. It is also performing 38 times better than other similar posts shared over the last 30 days.

The photo of the translucent car also appeared on multiple Facebook groups, including here, here, here, and here.

Conclusion: Viral Facebook posts claiming that Germany has launched the world’s first transparent car are false. In fact, the photo circulating on social media is from the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) where it was exhibited as a mock-up car.

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