Ever since it was revealed that Volkswagen had intentionally cheated emissions testers with its “clean” diesel cars, it’s been hard to trust anything VW officials have said. For its part, the iconic German carmaker has been cooperating with officials in the US and abroad, removed nearly all diesels from its official website, has symbolically axed its CEO, and has- mostly- remained silent. Its first steps towards regaining the trust of the people who bought its “clean” diesels, however, might leave a lot to be desired: it’s a gift card.
That’s right. Volkswagen of America will offer $500 to owners of 2.0-liter diesel vehicles with illegal emissions test-rigging software, part of a “goodwill package” (their words) aimed at easing tensions with those customers affected by the company’s deception. “We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles,” said Michael Horn, the new CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “In the meantime, we are providing this goodwill package as a first step towards regaining our customers’ trust.”
The question, though, isn’t one of money or of how VW plans to actually fix the cheating cars. Instead, the question Volkswagen should be asking itself is, I think: How can we get people to trust us again?
Trying to fix a scandal driven by greed and arrogance and greed by assuming the people you lied to can be appeased with a payoff- a payoff that doesn’t address or fix the emissions problem in any way, mind– is not the way to do it.