German consumers want VW vouchers as compensation
Germany's consumer association wants auto giant Volkswagen to give compensation vouchers to German customers affected by its massive pollution cheating scandal, as the company has offered to do in North America.
"The group must assume its responsibilities," said Klaus Mueller, president of the Federation of Associations for the Protection of Consumers, in an interview with the Rheinische Post newspaper on Monday.
"A voucher is the minimum that the company can give to compensate affected consumers," he added.
Mueller's call came after a US website reported that VW is planning to offer pre-paid cards worth up to $1,250 (1,160 euros) to affected American customers as part of a "goodwill package".
Part of the sum can be used only at VW dealers for the purchase of a new car or accessories, while the remainder can be spent elsewhere, according to the site "The truth about cars".
VW confirmed that it was offering vouchers to customers in the United States and Canada, without giving details of the sums involved.
A spokesman added that the company is developing "an individual package for each market" and that for Germany, consultations are ongoing with the authorities.
VW is engulfed in a huge pollution scandal that has so far centred on so-called defeat devices -- sophisticated software fitted into diesel engines to skew the results of tests for nitrogen oxide emissions.
The carmaker has admitted to fitting 11 million diesel engines worldwide with the rogue software, triggering both regulatory and criminal investigations in several countries, including Germany and the United States.
- 'The Problem' -
Last Tuesday, the embattled auto giant also said an internal probe had uncovered "inconsistencies" on carbon emissions, affecting not only diesel but also petrol engines.
VW put the number of vehicles affected so far by the carbon emissions issue at 800,000 -- including 98,000 petrol-driven cars -- but the final figure could turn out much higher.
In a protest Monday, environment group Greenpeace added a "C" and "2" on either side of the company's circular logo at the entrance of a factory in Wolfsburg, forming "CO2", and hung a banner bearing the slogan "The Problem" next to it.
As Volkswagen prepared to recall millions of cars to remove the defeat devices, Germany's transport ministry said Monday that out of the 2.4 million affected cars in the country, around 540,000 would require hardware repairs.
Volkswagen had earlier said that the repair work required for the 11 million cars could range from a simple software tweak to a major engine overhaul.
The company's top management is meeting Monday on the latest carbon emissions revelations, which has sparked speculation about the role of VW's former chief executive Martin Winterkorn.
The ex-boss quit in September at the height of the storm over the pollution cheating. According to press reports, targets on technical performance and costs set by Winterkorn had pushed engineers to resort to fitting cheating devices in the vehicles.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen has said the carbon emissions cheating was revealed by the group's employees.
"The question of how we got there is the subject of investigation," the group said.
© 2015 AFP