Volkswagen says it will offer $1,000 in gift cards and vouchers to the owners of 482,000 VW diesel vehicles in the U.S. that are linked to the German automaker's emissions cheating scandal.
VW said Monday the motorists, many of them angry at the company for selling them cars that are not as environmentally sensitive as it advertised, would get a $500 Visa gift card, a $500 card that could be used for service at VW dealerships and free roadside assistance for three years.
The payments come as VW, one of the world's largest auto manufacturers, struggles to determine a fix for the cars, which are equipped with software that turns on pollution controls during government tests and turns them off in normal driving. With the switch in controls, U.S. environmental regulators say that as a result, the affected cars emit 10 to 40 times the allowable amount of harmful nitrogen oxide while they are being driven.
"We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles,'' Michael Horn, VW's U.S. chief executive, said in a statement. "In the meantime, we are providing this goodwill package as a first step towards regaining our customers' trust."
The payments will go to owners of several 2009 to 2015 VW models, including Jettas, Passats, Golfs and Beetles. The company is recalling 8.5 million cars in Europe as a result of the bogus emissions tests and another 2.5 million are affected throughout the rest of the world.
American motorists have filed more than 200 class-action lawsuits against VW in the scandal, alleging the bogus emissions tests have decreased the value of the cars. Acceptance of the gift cards does not prohibit motorists from suing VW.