In a letter to Volkswagen employees made public Nov. 12, brand manager Herbert Diess encouraged some employees to reveal what they know about how Volkswagen cheated on U.S. emissions in the interest of “full and swift clarification.”
“In this process, every single day counts,” he said in the letter.
The offer, made to nonmanagerial employees covered by collective bargaining agreements, expires Nov. 30. It includes a guarantee that they won’t get fired if they “disclose completely and truthfully” what they know.
The company won’t seek damages against workers who talk about the scandal, which has resulted in the resignation of CEO Martin Winterkorn. But Diess said in the letter that whistleblowers might get transferred to other duties and they won’t be shielded from ongoing criminal probes. The company intends to refer investigators to cooperating employees.
“Past experience has shown this speaks in the employee’s favor,” Diess wrote.
The EPA and the California clean air watchdog first confronted the wayward automaker in September after gathering evidence of high in-use emissions from light-duty diesels. The carmaker equipped diesel cars with software that turned on full emissions controls only when the car is undergoing state emissions testing. During normal driving, the emissions control is turned off.
During normal driving conditions, the vehicles emitted pollutants that far exceeded allowable limits under the Clean Air Act. Since then, Volkswagen has experienced a $1.83 billion loss in third quarter sales, fines, and expensive recalls.
Brazil fined Volkswagen $13 million on Nov. 12, the maximum under Brazilian law, over the cheating scheme. In previous reports, the auto giant said just over 17,000 vehicles containing such software were sold in Brazil. The company also has said up to 11 million vehicles worldwide have the fraudulent software.
U.S. officials recently expanded their investigation to larger engine cars including Porsche, Audi, and VW cars. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that cars with 3.0 litre engines from the years 2014 to 2016 were affected, which is about 10,000 more cars. The company denied any wrongdoing in rigging up these cars in a statement.
EPA officials once again found these violations during testing performed by federal regulators in California and Canada implying that Volkswagen did not provide the information.
North American VW owners with affected vehicles are to receive $1,000 as an initial form of compensation from the VW Group. The deal includes a $500 Visa gift card, a $500 dealership card and free 24-hour roadside assistance for three years.