Volkswagen was found cheating on its diesel emissions tests last year, enabling some of its diesel cars to show remarkably clean emissions test numbers despite real world results over 40 times the allowed amount. To compensate the customers who have experienced increased automobile depreciation and feelings of being cheated, the German automaker has offered $500 in cash and $500 in dealer credit so far.
But that's just the beginning.
The terms of Volkswagen's penance in the U.S. could include an agreement with the EPA to make electric cars and a nation-wide infrastructure of charging stations, according to Reuters. The electric plug-in vehicles would potentially be manufactured at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tenn., plant. Reuters uses the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag as the source of its information.
There hasn't been a technological solution to the diesel cars' pollution as of yet, despite almost half a year passing since the scandal broke, and the EPA is still negotiating with Volkswagen on exactly what needs to happen.
The EPA's request for Volkswagen to produce electric cars for the U.S. market comes at an inopportune time for the company, since electric and hybrid cars have not been selling quite as well lately, due to the incredibly low gas prices that have stemmed from a brimming supply of crude oil.
However, a lack of charging infrastructure is frequently cited as one of the big reasons electric cars haven't driven away with the market yet, so it's conceivable that VW could rehabilitate its image and use its weight as an auto industry giant to break the electric car out into the mainstream. Reuters says that VW is set to present a report on what it plans to do in April.