DETROIT (AP) — Volkswagen, in an effort to appease owners of small diesel-powered cars involved in an emissions cheating scandal, is offering them $1,000 in gift cards and vouchers, the company said.
The offer announced Monday is a gesture of goodwill to 482,000 owners of cars whose 2-liter four-cylinder diesel engines have been implicated in the growing scandal, the company said. It also includes free roadside assistance for the diesel vehicles for three years.
The offer is designed to keep diesel owners happy as VW works on repairs to the cars, which are programmed to turn on pollution controls during government tests and turn them off while on the road. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the cars emit 10 to 40 times the allowable amount of harmful nitrogen oxide while being driven.
"We are providing this goodwill package as a first step towards regaining our customers' trust."
Michael Horn, VW's US CEO
Many owners are angry at the company for cheating because they paid extra for the cars to be environmentally sensitive without losing peppy acceleration.
"We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles," said Michael Horn, VW's U.S. CEO, said in a statement. "In the meantime we are providing this goodwill package as a first step towards regaining our customers' trust."
Related: See a brief history of Volkswagen through photos:
History of Volkswagen
VW offers diesel owners $1,000 in gift cards and vouchers
circa 1950: Rows of ' Beetle ' cars at a German Volkswagen plant. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
View of a Volkswagen Beetle, 1960s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
circa 1975: Volkswagen Beetle cars parked. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
DETROIT, UNITED STATES: Members of the media surround the new Volkswagen Beetle after its introduction 05 January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. The Beetle, the best selling car in history, is being offered on the US market after a 19 year absence. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
The New 1999 Beetle From Volkswagon. The Trademark Beetle Body Shape Is Immediately Recognizable, Though It Shares No Parts With The Old Beetle. It's Both Larger (161.1 Inches In Length And 96.3 Cubic Feet Inside) And More Powerful Than Its Predecessor And The Engine Is No Longer In The Back. The Car Is Available With A New Turbocharged 150-Horsepower 1.8-Liter Four-Cylinder Engine, A 115-Horsepower 2.0-Liter Four-Banger Or A High-Tech Turbo Direct Injection Diesel Engine That Gets 48 Mpg On The Highway And Has A Driving Range Of 700 Miles. The New Beetle's A Truly Modern Volkswagen, With A Fully Galvanized Body And German Engineered Suspension. Plus A Security System, Airbags* And 6-Speaker Cassette Stereo. (Photo By Getty Images)
NUERBURGRING, GERMANY - OCTOBER 07: INTERNATIONALES ADAC EIFFELRENNEN 2000 Nuerburgring; VW NEW BEETLE CUP (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
384066 02: FILE PHOTO: The new Volkswagen 'Microbus' concept vehicle is displayed for this publicity photo. The Microbus was introduced January 7, 2001 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI. (Photo courtesy of Volkswagen/Newsmakers)
398508 01: UNDATED FILE PHOTO A redesigned Volkswagen Beetle is displayed in this undated file photograph. Volkswagen officially opened a new assembly hall near Dresden, Germany, December 11, 2001 to produce the new Phaeton luxury car, which represents a dramatic new step for the German car company away from its traditional medium and small car market. (Photo courtesy Volkswagen AG/Getty Images)
A worker walks past a Polo car at a production line in Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive Company, 09 June 2003. One out of every 120 Chinese now own their own car as the government announced that there were more than 10 million privately owned cars plying Chinese roads, state press said. AFP PHOTO/LIU Jin (Photo credit should read LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 16: The Volkswagen Golf R32 on display during the Sydney International Motorshow at the Sydney Exhibition Centre October 16, 2003 in Sydney, Australia. The Sydney International Motorshow is the largest collection of automobiles on show in Australia with sixty new production models unveiled and concept vehicles on display. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
DETROIT - JANUARY 5: Volkswagen displays the Concept T vehicle at the North American International Auto Show January 5, 2004 in Detroit, Michigan. The show, which will feature more than 700 vehicles, opens to the public January 10. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images)
ZOUERAT, MAURITANIA: Finnish Juha Kankkunen drives his Volkswagen Touareg 05 January 2005, during the sixth stage of the 27th Dakar Rally between Smara and Zouerat in Mauritania. Reigning champion Stephane Peterhansel of France won the stage. Peterhansel, hampered by a cold for two days, crossed the finishing line in 4hr 0min 29sec to beat out fellow Mitsubishi driver, and two-time champion, Hiroshi Masuoka of Japan by 5min 58sec and the Volkswagen of Bruno Saby by 7min 26sec. AFP PHOTO MARTIN BUREAU (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - MARCH 13: (L-R) Volkswagen Board members Detlef Wittig, Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz, Horst Neumann, Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of German automaker Volkswagen, Jochem Heizmann and CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch pose at the new Volkswagen model 'Scirocco' during the company's annual press conference on March 13, 2008 in Wolfsburg, Germany. The Volkswagen Group significantly increased its earnings last year. Profit before tax therefore grew to 6.5 billion euros. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
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VW said that its Audi luxury brand would launch a similar program on Friday.
Owners will not be required to sign anything giving up their right to sue Volkswagen or forcing them into arbitration, spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said Monday. "There are no strings attached," she said.
VW has admitted that four-cylinder diesels from the 2009 to 2015 model years have the software that can cheat on pollution tests. It says about 11 million cars worldwide have the software.
Last week, the EPA accused VW of cheating with different software on larger six-cylinder diesels in about 10,000 vehicles. The company also has admitted finding irregularities in carbon dioxide emissions in 800,000 other vehicles, all outside the U.S. Some of those were powered by gasoline engines.
Learn more about the emissions scandal:
The fix of the 2-liter diesels in the U.S. could wind up hurting performance or perhaps fuel mileage, the two main reasons why people buy the diesels. More than 200 class-action lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. against VW alleging that the scandal caused the diesel cars to drop in value.
Volkswagen already is offering $2,000 to current VW owners to trade in their cars for new vehicles, and the gift cards and vouchers would add $1,000 to that.
Related: Photos from the emissions scandal and those in charge:
Volkswagen emissions scandal
VW offers diesel owners $1,000 in gift cards and vouchers