Volkswagen drives bigger to fight the COVID-19 outbreak

Across America and around the world, Volkswagen has rolled out several new efforts to help customers and communities fight the coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Volkswagen of America and fabrics supplier Faurecia announced a collaborative effort to manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items, with the first batch shipped to New York City’s Javits Center and other area hospitals. Working with Volkswagen strategy and logistics, Faurecia was able to quickly convert one of its factories to begin producing tens of thousands of surgical masks and gowns.

Volkswagen of America and Volkswagen Credit also recently detailed the Community-Driven Promise program, designed to help eligible customers in the United States affected by the crisis who need financial relief, and has worked with its 600 dealers as well to address the challenge.

With these moves, Volkswagen of America aims to leverage its expertise in finance, engineering and logistics to make a meaningful contribution to those in need.

“We have a commitment to help our customers, our dealers, our employees and our communities in a time of crisis,” said Scott Keogh, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “Volkswagen is proud to have partners like Faurecia willing to step outside their usual scope and drive something bigger.”

The work with Faurecia began with an internal Volkswagen task force, created to identify ways of meaningfully impacting the fight against COVID-19. After checking with several suppliers, Faurecia shared its willingness and ability to modify the company’s production lines. Through quick work with Volkswagen experts, plus an initial order of 70,000 masks and 5,000 gowns, Faurecia was able to pivot its processes and begin production at one of its facilities in Mexico.

Faurecia has since been able to significantly ramp up production capacities and is now able to make an estimated 250,000 masks and 50,000 gowns per week.  Volkswagen donated the first run of Faurecia-produced surgical masks and gowns to New York State’s COVID-19 response efforts. The shipment of 75,000 units arrived earlier this month, to be distributed at area hospitals including the temporary hospital at New York City’s Javits Center.

On the U.S. customer side, Volkswagen and Volkswagen Credit (VCI) will now offer several ways for existing and new owners to get financial help. Existing Volkswagen Credit customers in good standing can seek:

  • Up to 90-day payment deferrals without fees (VCI will not charge any fees but finance charges will still accrue for non-lease accounts)
  • Lease extensions up to six months, with a 20% reduction rebate in the monthly payment amount, up to five monthly payments, when leases are extended for at least three months
  • Waiving past maturity fees in certain circumstances

Qualified new buyers who use Volkswagen Credit also have the option of delaying their first payment for up to 120 days, combined with zero-percent APR financing for up to 72 months for most new vehicles. The program is set to run through June 1.2

This week, Volkswagen of America and Volkswagen Credit launched a new payment assistance plan for eligible customers who lose their job due to economic reasons. For qualified customers who purchase a new vehicle and lose their jobs due to economic reasons, VCI will waive up to six months of payments, up to $750 per month, providing some financial relief in these uncertain times. This job loss payment assistance applies to customers who purchase a new vehicle and finance the purchase through Volkswagen Credit, and is not currently available in New York.

To be eligible, customers must be receiving unemployment benefits, and the unemployment must occur for economic reasons after the first 90-days of ownership. Customers must also have been employed on a full-time basis at least 12 consecutive weeks prior to the unemployment. The benefit expires 12 months from date of purchase. Other conditions and limitations apply. For more details about the job loss payment assistance component of the Community-Driven Promise, go here.

Volkswagen of America is also working with its more than 600 independent U.S. dealers affected by the outbreak. Volkswagen is supporting its network of dealers who wish to put their service loaner fleet to use for free pickup and delivery of needed supplies and food. A “Dealer Response Team” will consist of a dealership employee as a driver and a vehicle. The team can be called upon for tasks such as delivering food to a local food bank, transporting masks and gowns to an area of critical need, or even dropping off necessary items to someone unable to leave their home – all at no cost to the group or person making the request. Only dealership employees will be permitted to drive the vehicles. Volkswagen corporate will offer dealers a daily stipend per vehicle to cover fuel and lease costs. All transport requests are subject to dealership approval and availability.

Dealers and Volkswagen are also working on several customer efforts that encourage continued social distancing and limited interaction. That includes support for a pick-up and delivery program that promotes social distancing, yet still allows for vehicles to be brought into a participating dealership for service or repairs. Volkswagen has also increased digital operations support to limit physical interaction at dealerships and has implemented digital signatures for transactions such as warranty claims.

Meanwhile, while the Volkswagen Chattanooga plant has been temporarily closed to help protect its workers, the education labs in the area are using their 3D printers to make face mask holders for medical workers in the region. That effort mirrors a similar program Volkswagen of America’s parent company, Volkswagen AG, launched today in Europe with Airbus and a consortium of other firms to 3D print thousands of face masks for medical workers in Spain.

Volkswagen’s sister companies have also set to work across their operations in North America. Volkswagen de Mexico has joined forces with the Fundación Empresarios Por Puebla and the Foundation Food Bank Cáritas to deliver food to families in need in communities surrounding our plants. The immediate goal is to support a minimum of 300 families; 200 in Puebla and 100 in Guanajuato, providing food for at least 10 weeks.

Volkswagen of Canada was able to enlist its press vehicles to help deliver about 10,000 bottles and counting of industrial-sized hand sanitizer bottles in Ontario, and logistics teams have offered trucks to the Virginia and Tennessee Departments of Transportation to ship medical equipment and food.

Beyond that, Volkswagen AG has made several key efforts across Europe, from exploring ventilator production with its Seat brand to converting part of the Lamborghini factory in Italy for medical mask production and giving key employees paid leave to work with health services.

Look for more steps from Volkswagen in the days and weeks ahead.

“We don’t plan on stopping our response to this crisis here,” said Keogh.