BY Katarina Piasevoli
In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found a number of Volkswagen cars with diesel engines being sold in the United States equipped with defeat devices, an emissions cheating software. The software could tell when it is being tested and change the performance accordingly to improve results. The German car manufacturer has since admitted to cheating on emissions tests in the US. The scandal has left many drivers disenchanted with Volkswagen.
The company’s stock dropped 50 percent after the news became public. After cheating on emissions tests and misleading the public about how efficient its clean diesel vehicles were, Volkswagen is now attempting to make amends with its US diesel drivers by giving them free money. On Monday, the company announced it will payout its customers though what they call a “TDI Goodwill Program.” US drivers who own eligible models can collect a $500 prepaid card and another $500 to use at a Volkswagen dealership.
The CEO of VW US, Michael Horn, explained the program as the first step in regaining their customers’ trust. But what about the nitrous oxide they illegally and purposefully spewed out into American air? The cars emitted more than 40 times the allowable limits. Volkswagen admitted that 11 million vehicles worldwide were equipped with the software. Half a million of these were in the United States. Although the company issued a recall on the affected vehicles and started giving customers free money, they most certainly have not paid for their crimes. It is facing up to $18 billion in fines from the EPA. In addition, many angry drivers have joined in filing dozens of lawsuits against the company. With a mounting financial and public relations nightmare, this is not going to be a mistake from which Volkswagen can quickly recover—and $1,000 alone definitely won’t get the job done.