Volkswagen is the latest automaker to offer specialized assistance plans for eligible customers.

Volkswagen of America is the latest automaker to step up efforts to help customers suffering financially due to the coronavirus pandemic, implementing a program called the Community-Driven Promise.

Unemployment claims in the U.S. have risen to all-time highs as the pandemic continues to ravage the U.S. economy. Auto sales are expected to drop significantly for the foreseeable future.

VW and Volkswagen Credit will defer payments for up to 90 days for existing VCI customers affected by the economic crisis, the company said. The German automaker joins a growing list of auto companies offering some form of assistance to those struggling to make payments, including Hyundai, General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler among others.

(Facing sales collapse, wave of repos, automakers reach out to customers.)

Hyundai is offering its Hyundai Assurance Job Loss Protection Program which, it says, is meant to give owners “peace of mind in uncertain times” by deferring payments on some new models and covering up to six months of payments for new buyers who involuntarily lose their jobs.

Volkswagen is running television ads to let customers know about its assistance program.

Ford and Nissan offer payment relief options to existing owners who might be facing financial problems as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Toyota and General Motors implemented similar efforts that include extending or deferring payments and waiving late fees.

In the case of Volkswagen, it’s offering a variety of options; however, customers must have accounts in good standing with VCI in order to be eligible to participate, the company noted.

VW’s payment assistance options include:

  • 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
  • Waiving past maturity fees in certain circumstances

(Forecasts call for slowdown as carmakers scramble to prop up sales.)

The automaker is also looking to bolster is new vehicle sales as much as possible, following the lead of other companies it’s giving qualified new buyers the option of delaying their first payment for up to 180 days combined with zero-percent APR financing for up to 72 months for most new vehicles. The program is set to run through April 30.

The new TV ad campaign also includes a set of Spanish-language commercials.

Other measures designed to make it easier for purchases include changes to the dealer experience, including:

  • A pick-up and delivery program to help customers who want to practice social distancing, but still need their vehicles brought to a participating dealership for service or repairs.
  • Acceptance of digital signatures from customers for transactions such as warranty claims.
  • Increased digital operations support to limit back-end physical interaction for dealer service departments.

“We know this pandemic has caused significant stress and worry across America, and is putting financial strain on millions of households,” said Scott Keogh, CEO of Volkswagen of America. “We have a commitment to help our customers, our dealers, our employees and our communities in a time of crisis.”

(Volkswagen shutting European plants for two weeks, warns of “very difficult year.”)

This support comes on top of Volkswagen’s existing four-years or 50,000-mile (whichever occurs first), New Vehicle Limited Warranty and the Carefree Maintenance program. That program offers two years or 20,000 miles (whichever occurs first) of scheduled maintenance at no additional charge.

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