In the latest chapter of the ongoing Volkswagen emissions scandal saga, the automaker announced Thursday that it will present to U.S. authorities its plans for bringing vehicles outfitted with pollution-cheating software into compliance with regulations.
“We’re hopeful we’ll be able to announce something soon about the remedies we have identified and which we’ll be discussing with the agencies in the coming days,” Volkswagen Group of America president and CEO Michael Horn said at a Los Angeles auto show.
The event marked the group’s first auto show in North America since the Volkswagen scandal broke in September. The automaker is struggling to cope with the biggest crisis of its history following its admission that it had fitted 11 million vehicles with devices designed to cheat pollution tests.
“We are discussing with the agencies on Friday all the remedies and afterwards there will be a communication,” Horn said. “We’re cooperating fully with the regulators.”
Horn, who made his first public appearance since he testified before Congress on October 8, said that 120,000 owners have signed up for a goodwill compensation package, which includes a $500 prepaid Visa card. Other perks of the deal are a $500 voucher for VW dealership services and free roadside assistance for three years.
Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at Edmunds.com, told AFP that the $500 gift card was a nice gesture but not what customers were looking for.
“They want to know what the fix is for their vehicles so they can move on and either accept the fix or look into selling the car,” she said. “Until then, they are stuck in a no-man’s land, which by Volkswagen’s own admission, is incredibly frustrating for owners of these vehicles.”
Horn said he understood customers’ anger and frustration, but warned that the vehicle repair process “will take time.”
VW CEO Matthias Mueller aimed to recall the affected vehicles beginning in January, he added.
While testifying before Congress, Horn said that the fix could take one to two years.
The auto industry has been shocked by the VW scandal, in which the world’s largest automaker was shown to have programmed its 2009-2015 four-cylinder diesel cars to perform well in official anti-pollution testing in the lab, but then override the pollution controls for better road performance when out in the real world.
The defeat device allows cars to have more power and save more fuel, but spew more pollutants into the air, including nitrogen oxides, in amounts much higher than permitted emissions standards.
In related news, VW has informed clients in France that it will begin recalling vehicles there early next year. The company said in a letter to French clients it “has decided to undertake after-sales action on EA189 diesel engines in order to carry out a software correction” on the affected vehicles.
The automaker also announced Thursday that it had postponed a planned investment in China. Volkswagen was one of the earliest foreign entrants to the China market and produces domestically through joint ventures with China’s largest automaker SAIC, based in Shanghai, and number three China FAW Group in the northeastern province of Jilin.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015