Volkswagen moves to appease angry customers, workers

Mon Nov 9, 2015 6:13pm EST
 
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By Paul Lienert and Andreas Cremer

DETROIT/BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) took new steps on Monday to appease U.S. customers and German union leaders unhappy with the company's response to a sweeping emissions cheating scandal that claimed another high-profile executive.

Volkswagen is offering a $1,000 credit, of which half is to be spent at VW and Audi dealerships, to U.S. owners of certain diesel models that do not comply with government emissions standards, VW's U.S. subsidiary said.

The automaker said eligible U.S. owners of nearly 500,000 VW and Audi models equipped with 2.0 liter TDI diesel engines can apply to receive a $500 prepaid Visa card and a $500 dealership card, and three years of free roadside assistance services.

The move was latest attempt to pacify owners who have been frustrated by how the German automaker plans to fix affected models. The company has warned it could rack up multi-billion-euro costs to remedy the issue and repair the damage to its reputation.

"I guess it's a very small step in the right direction. But far from what I'd like to see in terms of being compensated," said Jeff Slagle, a diesel Golf owner in Wilton, Connecticut.

The scandal erupted in September when VW admitted it had rigged U.S. tests for nitrogen oxide emissions. The crisis deepened last week when it said it had understated the carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption of vehicles in Europe.

VW said on Monday it continues to discuss potential remedies with U.S. and California emissions regulators, including the possibility that some of the affected cars could be bought back from customers.

In Washington, Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey on Monday decried VW's consumer program as "insultingly inadequate" and "a fig leaf attempting to hide the true depths of Volkswagen's deception."   Continued...

 
Greenpeace activists demonstrate as they stand on top of Volkswagen's "Sandkamp" gate in Wolfsburg, Germany, November 9 , 2015. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer