Volkswagen reaches out to owners: Offers $500 Visa cards, dealership credits – USA TODAY
Volkswagen is offering gift cards and dealership credits to U.S. owners of cars equipped with software that cheats emissions regulations, reflecting a concerted bid to begin rehabilitating its battered image.
The German automaker will offer a $500 Visa debit card, which can be spent on anything, and a $500 dealership credit to owners of 482,000 diesel cars embroiled in the emissions scandal. The company will also offer three years of free roadside assistance.
Owners of the Audi cars affected by the scandal will get the same offer.
By accepting the offer, vehicle owners will not be required to relinquish their right to participate in a class-action lawsuit, take legal actions on their own or give up any potential future compensation, Volkswagen spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan confirmed in an email.
“There are no stipulations,” she said.
The offer is designed to reverse the tide of negative sentiment that has deluged the automaker after it admitted to purposely fitting up to 11 million vehicles worldwide with software that tricks regulators into believing the cars were compliant with emissions standards.
“We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles,” Volkswagen U.S. CEO Michael Horn said in a statement. “In the meantime, we are providing this goodwill package as a first step towards regaining our customers’ trust.”
To be sure, the offer is also designed to give a boost to Volkswagen dealers, who are not allowed to sell pre-owned vehicles or new vehicles fitted with the software until the company delivers a fix.
Volkswagen spent an average of $4,750 per vehicle in incentives in October, about 50% more than the industry average of $3,158, according to Kelley Blue Book.
Although Volkswagen brand sales were flat in October, the heavy incentive spending and strong overall industry performance indicates that VW dealers are facing a very difficult time selling cars.
The offer to VW owners requires them to visit VWDieselInfo.com, then enter their Vehicle Identification Number, name, address and mileage. Afterward, owners will receive their “goodwill package” in four weeks.
Owners must then take that package to the dealer to get their Visa debit card and VW gift card.
The vehicles included in the offer are the four-cylinder diesel versions of the 2009-15 Jetta TDI, 2009-14 VW Jetta SportWagen TDI, 2010-15 VW Golf TDI, 2015 VW Golf SportWagen TDI, 2012-15 VW Beetle TDI and VW Beetle Convertible TDI and the 2012-15 VW Passat TDI. Owners of the 2009-15 diesel Audi A3 will receive also receive the offer.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.