Investigations by VW and numerous government agencies into the company's TDI diesel-emission cheating scandal are still underway, so there's not a lot Volkswagen can say right now.

But to try to stem damage among its TDI owners, VW's U.S. arm yesterday announced a "goodwill" program for the 482,000 owners of the affected 2.0-liter TDI vehicles from 2009 through 2015.

Owners can receive a $500 Visa gift card, a $500 card redeemable at their VW dealership, and three years of free roadside assistance.

DON'T MISS: VW Diesel Emissions Recall: What You Need To Know In 10 Questions

Crucially, owners do not have to give up any legal rights to accept the goodwill package.

The company is "working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles," said Michael Horn, the president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America.

Meanwhile, though, he called the package "a first step toward regaining our customers' trust."

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE

TDI owners can visit the company's dedicated website covering the diesel emission enter a Vehicle Identification Number to find out whether their vehicle qualifies them for the Goodwill Package.

VW also sent letters and e-mails to owners and lessees of the affected vehicles as of November 8.

Audi of America will launch a complementary program for owners of 2009-2013 and 2015 Audi A3 TDI models on Friday, November 13.

ALSO SEE: Why Did Volkswagen Cheat On Diesel Emissions In Its TDI Cars?

The goodwill program was announced more than seven weeks after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held a news conference to announce that VW had admitted to installing "defeat device" software in almost half a million vehicles.

The software detected when the cars were being tested on dynamometers, or "rolling roads" for emission purposes, and kept their engine operation within legal emission limits.

But in real-world driving conditions, the cars ignored those limits. Tests showed that certain models emitted up to 35 times the legally permitted amounts of nitrogen oxides, or NOx.

2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

With three different powertrains involved, the full list of affected models includes:

  • 2009-2013 and 2015 Audi A3 TDI
  • 2012-2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI
  • 2010-2013 Volkswagen Golf TDI; 2015 Golf TDI and Golf SportWagen TDI
  • 2009-2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, 2009-2014 Jetta SportWagen TDI
  • 2012-2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI

While repairs to 2015 models may involve only software adjustments, the bulk of the vehicles--325,000 of them--were not fitted with a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) emission aftertreatment system using urea injection.

Retrofitting that system to those cars would cost several thousand dollars apiece, leading to suggestions that VW will have to buy them back.

MORE: How Will VW Fix My Diesel Car, And When? A List Of All Models

Yesterday, protesters from the environmental group Greenpeace demonstrated outside the entrance to the headquarters of VW Group AG in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Holding up large cutouts of a "C" and a "2," they used the round VW logo to spell out "CO2"--although the U.S. emission scandal actually affects nitrogen oxides, or NOx.

Volkswagen admitted last week that it had also found "irregularities" in its testing of CO2 emission, which are directly proportional to fuel efficiency, in 800,000 vehicles.

In a takeoff on Volkswagen's "Das Auto" slogan, used globally, the demonstrators' banner read "Das Problem."


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