Volkswagen of America will offer $500 to owners of 2.0-liter diesel TDI vehicles with illegal emissions test-rigging software. It’s part of a “goodwill” package aimed at calming customers affected by the company’s deception.
The $500 will come on a prepaid Visa card and can be used wherever Visa is accepted. As part of the package, VW also says affected owners will receive a second prepaid card worth $500 that can be redeemed at VW dealerships. They’ll get three years of 24-hour roadside assistance.
The goodwill package announced today is VW’s first major step to mollify owners affected by the emissions scandal. Meanwhile, it’s still trying to come up with for its non-compliant diesels. It’s also offered financial support and enhanced sales incentives to dealers stuck with diesels they can’t sell.
“We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles,” says Michael Horn, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “In the meantime, we are providing this goodwill package as a first step towards regaining our customers’ trust.”
The EPA said Sept. 18 that roughly 482,000 2.0-liter diesel VW and Audi vehicles contained illegal software designed to mask smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions that were up to 40 times permissible levels.
The program announced today covers only VW-brand vehicles from the 2009-15 model years that contain the software. Audi is working on a similar program to launch on Nov. 13.
Customers will have to jump through a few hoops to take part. First, they must enter the vehicle identification number at a VW website, www.vwdieselinfo.com, to see whether their cars are affected. If it is, the owner must enter contact info and the current odometer mileage.
Customers will then receive the prepaid cards in the mail within four weeks. To activate them, customers must bring them into a dealership, along with the vehicle itself, a driver’s license and proof of ownership.
Meanwhile, VW continues to work with the EPA and California’s Air Resources Board to bring the affected diesels into compliance with clean-air laws.
VW has said that each of the three generations of 2.0-liter diesel engines containing the illegal software will require different repairs. About 325,000 of the vehicles using the first generation of VW’s 2.0-liter diesel will require software and hardware changes, Horn told a panel of U.S. lawmakers on Oct. 8. Those changes could be extensive.
About 67,000 newer vehicles with the third-generation diesel meet emissions standards and can be made compliant with a software update alone, Horn told lawmakers.
The roughly 90,000 2012-14 TDI Passats using the second-generation 2.0-liter diesel will need a software update, but it’s unclear if they will need hardware changes also.