Dieselgate: VW says sorry to owners with $US1000 sweetener

Volkswagen steering wheel

VOLKSWAGEN has offered US owners of VW-badged vehicles affected by the growing emissions scandal a $US1000 “goodwill” package, but with strings attached.

Under the terms of the deal, detailed on a page under the heading “We’re Working to Make Things Right”, eligible owners of affected 2.0-litre diesel-engined models will receive a $US500 credit card, as well as a “Volkswagen Dealership Card” valued at $US500, making the deal equivalent to about $A1400.

Both the cash and the dealership credit must be spent within 12 months of receiving the card, and can only be used by the person who makes the claim. And the money can only be spent inside the US and the US territory of Puerto Rico.

Volkswagen USA is also giving affected owners who register for the goodwill program three years of free roadside assistance.

The offer is only open to owners of privately bought and financed vehicles, and not to bulk-order customers or anyone who has borrowed money from Volkswagen’s US finance arm, the fine print reads.

Volkswagen -badge -on -black -vw -carA Volkswagen Australia spokesman told Wheels the local arm of the global carmaker was looking into the US announcement before making any comment on the likelihood of customers here receiving a similar deal.

A global recall of 1.6- and 2.0-litre diesel engines tied to the emissions scandal, which broke after the US EPA found software had been coded to recognise if they were being emissions-tested and run in a special low-emission mode, has scooped up almost 100,000 Australian customers since news of the software cheat codes broke.

The EPA has since accused the Volkswagen Group, which includes brands such as Audi, Skoda and Porsche, of also fudging emissions figures for V6 diesel engines – an accusation the carmaker has strongly denied.

Meanwhile, US lawyers have advised VW customers to approach the carmaker’s goodwill gesture carefully after raising concerns that by signing up for the cash, they could also waive any right to compensation if they had joined a class action lawsuit against the company.

Volkswagen USA said the agreement that customers need to sign to get the cash and barter offer would not stop them seeking extra compensation at a later date, and instead was tied to the terms of the credit card’s use.

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