As expected, Volkswagen, in an effort to appease owners of small diesel-powered cars involved in an emissions cheating scandal, is offering them $1,000 in gift cards and vouchers, the company said. Owners will get a $500 debit card that can be used on anything, plus $500 in the form of a VW credit, notes USA Today. The offer announced Monday is a gesture of goodwill to 482,000 owners of cars whose 2-liter, four-cylinder diesel engines have been implicated in the scandal, the company says. It also includes free roadside assistance for the diesel vehicles for three years. Of note: Owners will not be required to sign anything giving up their right to sue Volkswagen or forcing them into arbitration. "There are no strings attached," says a spokeswoman. More than 200 class-action lawsuits have been filed in the US against VW alleging that the scandal caused the diesel cars to drop in value.
The offer is designed to keep diesel owners happy as VW works on repairs to the cars, which are programmed to turn on pollution controls during government tests and turn them off on the road. The EPA says the cars emit 10 to 40 times the allowable amount of harmful nitrogen oxide. "We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles," says Michael Horn, VW's US CEO. "In the meantime we are providing this goodwill package as a first step towards regaining our customers' trust." VW said its Audi luxury brand would launch a similar program Friday. Volkswagen already is offering $2,000 to current VW owners to trade in their cars for new vehicles, and the gift cards and vouchers would add $1,000 to that. (Read more Volkswagen stories.)