The ad, which used Star Wars characters to attack Volkswagen over its environmental credentials, launched last week as part of a global environmental campaign.

Volkswagen says its US division obtained an agreement with LucasFilm, which owns the Star Wars franchise, to use the Darth Vader character in the original ad, but it is thought that Greenpeace did not have a similar agreement in place with the film company.

Greenpeace spokeswoman Leila Dean says in a statement: “Almost two million people have already watched our campaign ad, which is a light hearted way of telling the truth about Volkswagen and their opposition to climate change laws. The film has been hugely successful having been shared more than any other advert in the last 24 hours. We’re disappointed that it has been taken down and we’re hoping it’s just a case of some rogue droids and that many more people will be able to watch the film soon.”

The video is still available on the Greenpeace campaign website VWdarkside.com but YouTube has removed the clip and carries the message: “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim from LucasFilm.”

A Volkswagen spokesman says the car manufacture has not taken any action against Greenpeace following the launch of the global campaign and protests at its UK head office that slammed its environmental record, and that the action taken by LucasFilm was independent.

LucasFilm did not respond to enquiries at the time of writing.