Volkswagen Offers $1,000 in Cash, Credits To Owners Of Deceptive Diesels

Volkswagen, in an apparent attempt to alleviate the strained relationship with hundreds of thousands of consumers still waiting to hear just how the carmaker plans to fix their “clean diesel” vehicles rigged to cheat emissions tests, is offering those owners $1,000 in cash and credits. 

The car company, now at the center of two scandals related to nitrogen oxide and carbon emissions, announced Monday that it would provide vehicle owners affected by the diesel-emissions scandal with $1,000 as a goodwill gesture, The Los Angeles Times reports.

VW unveiled the program in an email to customers today, offering the payments in two ways: a $500 Visa prepaid card to be used however the customer desires, and $500 in credits toward a VW purchase and three years of free roadside assistance.

“We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles,” Michael Horn, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said. “In the meantime, we are providing this Goodwill Package as a first step towards regaining our customers’ trust.”

To be eligible, consumers must be the registered owner or lessee of a Volkswagen diesel with the 2-liter TDI engine as of Nov. 8. VW owners must visit, enter their Vehicle Identification Number, their mileage and contact information by April 30. Customers must also take their vehicles to a dealer to activate the gift cards and prove they own the car.

A VW spokesperson tells L.A. Times that customers taking part in the program do not have to sign a release of claims against the company.

The Goodwill Package is the second initiative VW has created in recent months to attract new and keep existing customers in wake of its emissions scandal.

Last month, the company offered owners a $2,000 “Loyalty Bonus” for leasing or buying a new car. That deal, which ended Nov. 2, extended to any individual who currently owns a VW, or anyone in that person’s family as long as they live at the same address.

The first initiative came just weeks after the Environmental Protection Agency issues a notice of violation covering 482,000 diesel vehicles since 2008. The agency, along with the California Air Resources Board, deemed the vehicles to be equipped with “defeat devices” designed to cheat emission tests.

The agencies announced last week that they had found an additional 10,000 VW, Audi and Porsche models to have the same devices.

The “sophisticated software algorithm” in the vehicles is programmed to detect when the car is undergoing official emissions testing, and to only turn on full emissions control systems – the temperature conditioning mode – during that testing.

A day later, on Nov. 3, VW announced that an internal investigation had found nearly 800,000 cars have issues with carbon dioxide emissions.

Investigators found that CO2 levels and fuel consumption figures for some models were set too low during the carbon certification process.

Today, Reuters, citing German publication Bild am Sonntag, reported that the carbon issue came to light after employees admitted to tampering with the data in order to reduce emissions by 30%, a goal set by former CEO Martin Winterkorn in 2013.

According to Bild, VW engineers tampered with tire pressure and mixed diesel with their motor oil to make them use less fuel. The deception was allegedly set in motion back in 2013 and continued until spring of this year.

“Employees have indicated in an internal investigation that there were irregularities in ascertaining fuel consumption data. How this happened is subject to ongoing proceedings,” a Volkswagen spokesman said, declining to provide futher comment on the Bild report.

Volkswagen offers cash, credit to help placate diesel owners [The Los Angeles Times]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.