Volkswagen to Give Gift Cards, Repairs to Diesel Car Owners

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Volkswagen of America said on Wednesday that 120,000 owners of diesel cars that have violated U.S. emission standards will receive $500 gift cards and $500 toward vehicle repairs.

Last week, Volkswagen said it was offering a $500 prepaid Visa gift card, a separate card good for $500 toward services at a VW dealerships and free 24-hour roadside assistance for three years. In total, that could mean at least $120 million in benefits to the participating owners.

VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said 120,000 owners have signed up to receive the gift cards - or about one quarter of the 482,000 vehicle owners covered by the emissions scandal.

VW said taking part does not prevent owners from filing lawsuits. The automaker faces hundreds of lawsuits around the country.

VW Group of America President and CEO Michael Horn is announcing the news at the Los Angeles Auto Show and is making his first significant public remarks since he testified before Congress on the emissions scandal on Oct. 8.

VW has set aside 6.5 billion euros ($6.9 billion) to cover costs after it admitted to installing "defeat devices" in 11 million vehicles worldwide with diesel engines built since 2008. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said VW could face up to $18 billion in maximum fines.

U.S. regulators said last week that they believe VW also installed illegal software in more than 10,000 larger Porsche, Audi and VW vehicles in the United States with 3.0 liter engines that emitted up to 9 times legally allowable emissions. VW has denied those allegations.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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