In an expensive downpayment for fixing 482,000 diesel engines, Volkswagen announced a package of incentives for current owners, including a $500 gift card, $500 off another VW, and three years of roadside assistance.
The package, which owners can begin signing up for today, comes as VW is still working on repairs needed to bring the vehicles with its 2-liter turbo diesel into compliance with federal emission laws. Last month, independent researchers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found software in the VW vehicles that spoofed their emissions tests, allowing them to spew up to 40 times the legal limit of dangerous nitrogen oxides in everyday driving.
“We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles,” said Michael Horn, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “In the meantime, we are providing this goodwill package as a first step towards regaining our customers’ trust.”
Owners of the Audi A3 with the same engine will get a separate incentive that will be announced later this week. The gift cards can’t be transferred to a new owner if the car is sold.
U.S. senators Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., said the offers were far short of what VW owners deserve.
“Volkswagen should offer every owner a buy-back option. The company should state clearly and unequivocally that every owner has the right to sue,” the two said in a joint statement. “It should offer every owner who wants to keep her car full compensation for the loss of resale value, fuel economy, and other damage caused by its purposeful deception.”
Since the problem was uncovered in the United States, VW has revealed similar software in 11 million vehicles worldwide. Last week, the EPA accused VW of using another software dodge in 10,000 VW, Audi, and Porsche diesels to also fake emissions tests; VW denied that the software in those models was illegal, but admitted it had incorrectly reported fuel economy tests on several European models.
VW has said it hopes to have fixes for the affected vehicles by next spring; those changes could run from simple software updates to extensive exhaust retrofits. If every owner claimed both cards, the cost to VW would total $482 million; the company has already set aside $7.3 billion to deal with the problem worldwide.
The scandal has lead to criminal investigations around the world, several lawsuits in the United States, and depressed values for used VW diesels, once seen as a durable alternative to hybrids by many American fans. How any fixes affect the performance and efficiency of the vehicles will also eventually impact their value as well.
Owners or lessees of the following models as of Nov. 8 can register for the package at vwdieselinfo.com:
- VW Jetta TDI (Model Years 2009-2015)
- VW Jetta SportWagen TDI (Model Years 2009-2014)
- VW Golf TDI (Model Years 2010-2015)
- VW Golf SportWagen TDI (Model Year 2015)
- VW Beetle TDI and VW Beetle Convertible TDI (Model Years 2012-2015)
- VW Passat TDI (Model Years 2012-2015)