German auto maker Volkswagen has assured US authorities that it will meet an end-of-week deadline to present plans for bringing its vehicles outfitted with pollution-cheating software into compliance with regulations.
Making his first public appearance since testifying before Congress in October, Volkswagen Group of America chief executive Michael Horn said Wednesday he would be discussing remedies with US authorities in the coming days.
"We are discussing with the agencies on Friday all the remedies, and afterwards there will be a communication," Horn said on the sidelines of the Los Angeles Auto Show currently being held in the US city.
The event marks the German carmaker's first auto show in North America since the Volkswagen scandal broke in September. VW 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're cooperating fully with the regulators," he added, singling out in particular the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
EPA said Wednesday that VW could face up to $18 billion in fines if it failed to meet a deadline Friday to present technical solutions for replacing its "defeat devices," and a plan for recalling and modifying 500,000 diesel cars in the US so their emissions can be brought into line with regulations.
VW gift cards
At the auto show, CEO Horn announced that 120,000 owners had 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 the news agency AFP that the 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," with the recall starting in January.
uhe/nz (Reuters, dpa, AFP)