HERNDON, Virginia — Volkswagen Group of America is offering owners of 2.0-liter diesel vehicles affected by the diesel-emissions cheating scandal a $1,000 "Goodwill Package" as it continues to work on a remedy for the cars.
What the package does not include yet is a buy-back option for affected consumers, something that some lawmakers and consumer advocates have been seeking.
Current owners and lessees of certain 2.0-liter TDI vehicles are being offered a $500 prepaid Visa card that can be used wherever Visa is accepted, along with a $500 Volkswagen dealership card that can be used at Volkswagen dealerships.
Also included in the Goodwill Package is three years of 24-hour roadside assistance.
The program ends on April 30, 2016.
"We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles," said Michael Horn, Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO, in a statement. "In the meantime, we are providing this Goodwill Package as a first step toward regaining our customers' trust."
The program, which debuted on Monday, covers only Volkswagen vehicles from the 2009-'15 model years that contain so-called "defeat devices" or illegal software designed to skirt U.S. clean-air standards. The vehicles include the 2009-'14 Volkswagen Jetta, 2012-'14 Volkswagen Passat and 2015 Volkswagen Golf.
VW said Volkswagen Touareg TDI models are not included in the program.
Participating customers must bring the cards to a Volkswagen dealership, along with the vehicle, a driver's license and proof of ownership, in order to activate them.
Audi of America will launch a similar program for affected Audi 2.0-liter TDI owners on November 13.
In a joint statement, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) criticized the Goodwill Package as "insultingly inadequate."
In a statement, the two said the program is "a fig leaf attempting to hide the true depths of Volkswagen's deception."
The cash program was decried as a "goodwill gesture and nothing more," according to a statement from attorneys general leading an investigation into Volkswagen practices on Monday.
"It in no way diminishes the seriousness of the deceptive practices and environmental harms that are the subject of states' investigations or the determination of the attorneys general of 48 jurisdictions to hold Volkswagen to account for its conduct," they said.
Edmunds says: This is the first big step taken by Volkswagen to appease angry diesel owners. But whether it's enough to keep them loyal to the German automaker remains to be seen.