The owners of one of the "clean diesel" cars implicated in Volkswagen's emissions scandal were turned away from the company's U.S. headquarters as the automaker and regulators continue to discuss plans to repair the vehicles.
Marcus Moench and Elisabeth Caspari drove their 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI from the Colorado dealership where they purchased it to VW's offices in suburban Virginia, where they delivered a petition from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and attempted to return their vehicle.
When company representatives refused to accept it, Moench, an environmental researcher, told The Desert Sun that they "left the key on their doormat and the car in their lot and walked out."
It's been more than four months since the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that VW installed software on about 600,000 U.S. vehicles to manipulate their emissions levels during official testing.
The scandal involves some 11 million vehicles worldwide, but most will be fixed relatively quickly after German regulators cleared a recall plan for the European Union.
A resolution in the U.S., however, will likely require complex repairs in order to curb nitrogen oxide emissions up to 40 times the amount allowed by the EPA.
VW executives and EPA officials met last week to discuss next steps but did not reach an agreement. California regulators, meanwhile, rejected VW's recall plans for that state as "substantially deficient."
"I understand the impatience that exists. I'm impatient, too," CEO Matthias Mueller told the Associated Press last week. "I'd also like a faster solution, but we have to proceed with care."
In the interim, VW offered affected owners a pair of $500 gift cards — one prepaid, and the other for VW dealerships.
Moench and Caspari returned to VW headquarter two days later to pick up their vehicle and park it outside a friend's house. They planned to return to Colorado via train.
"We need to figure out our next steps," Moench told the Sun.