A pair of Democratic senators is pushing German automaker Volkswagen buy back vehicles it sold that violate federal air pollution emission standards.
Volkswagen has admitted to selling diesel models of its cars that had software installed that violated the Clean Air Act by activating required air pollution protections only during emissions tests.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyUnder pressure, Democrats cut back spending House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing MORE (D-Mass.) said Thursday that the company should buy the faulty cars from drivers at a "fair market value."
"We write to urge you to offer a more robust compensation for drivers of all VW vehicles purchased in the United States that contained defeat devices used to circumvent NOX emissions control requirements," the senators wrote in a letter to Volkswagen's U.S. CEO Michael Horn.
"We specifically request that you immediately announce VW's willingness to buy back those impacted vehicles, as has already occurred in the [European Union] for VW vehicles whose greenhouse gas emissions levels were wrongly understated," the lawmakers continued. "We additionally urge you to offer drivers the fair market value for these vehicles that was in place before VW's illegal activity was made publicly known."
Volkswagen has admitted to installing "defeat devices" on about 482,000 diesel vehicles since 2008. The company has recently been found to have installed the devices on cars marketed under its Audi and Porsche brands.
The company programmed vehicles to trick emissions testers into believing its diesel cars released a much lower volume of nitrogen oxide than they actually do. In regular driving, the vehicles emitted up to 40 times more pollution.
Volkswagen has issued a $1,000 "goodwill offer" to drivers who were affected by its violations of U.S. emission standards, but Blumenthal and Markey said in their letter on Thursday that the company has gone further for European drivers.
"In response to the damages caused by VW's illegal actions, VW has offered drivers a pittance, which includes a $500 Volkswagen Prepaid Visa Loyalty Card, a $500 Volkswagen Dealership Card, and a 24-hour Roadside Assistance at no charge for three years," the lawmakers wrote.
"By contrast, in the the EU, where VW acknowledged that it sold vehicles with 'CO2 irregularities,' VW has offered to buy back some of the vehicles at the current market value," they continued. "We believe a similar offer should be made in the U.S, and that VW should offer to buy back all vehicles that were equipped with defeat devices at the fair market value that existed before the existence of the defeat devices was known."
Volkswagen's U.S. division has offered a "sincere apology" to lawmakers in for the company's efforts to circumvent federal air pollution rules, and the company has taken out a full-page ad in major U.S. newspapers to apologize directly to drivers.
The apologies have not been enough to satisfy lawmakers such as Blumenthal and Markey, however.