The automaker is weathering the storm of a PR disaster after an SUV was stolen with a baby inside and police could not track the car due to a payment issue.
Volkswagen has announced that it will now offer five years of free Car-Net emergency services for model year 2020-2023 vehicles. The rollout is in response to a bone-chilling incident in Chicago last week that saw a mother robbed of her Volkswagen Atlas while her two-year-old son was still in the hijacked car. In case you missed it, the crime was promptly reported by the injured mother (who suffered broken bones in the ordeal). Police then attempted to use Volkswagen Car-Net connected services to locate the vehicle and the child quickly, but the courtesy trial period for the remote access service had come to an end. Even when a detective pled with the Volkswagen representative, informing them that the situation was dire, the service would not be activated without payment.
As you can see, this was not a good look for Volkswagen. In response to the latest scandal, the automaker is now trying to prevent a similar situation from happening again.
The victim mentioned above was receiving treatment as investigators tried to locate her car and could, therefore, not pay for the service. A family member eventually paid to reactivate tracking, which took half an hour. Thankfully, a 911 call already helped the police to determine the child's location shortly before then, but things could have been much worse. Imagine how bad this would have looked had the child not been safe.
"As a mom and an aunt, I can imagine how painful this incident must have been. Words can't adequately express how truly sorry I am for what the family endured," said Senior Vice President of Customer Experience & Brand Marketing for Volkswagen of America, Rachael Zaluzec. "Volkswagen must and will do better for everyone that trusts our brand and for the law enforcement officials tasked with protecting us."
Zaluzec added that Volkswagen is conducting a full investigation into the incident, and as of June 1, Car-Net's Safe & Secure connected vehicle emergency services are offered for free for five years on cars with the required hardware from the date of purchase. If you already have this subscription, the complementary plan will activate after the paid plan concludes. This package excludes Remote Access and a Wi-Fi hotspot, but it does include access to emergency assistance through an SOS button. The service also includes automatic crash notifications, anti-theft alerts, and stolen vehicle location assistance.
Most 2020 Passats do not have Car-Net hardware, and the ID.4's Safe & Secure plan does not include anti-theft alerts or stolen vehicle location services. 2021 ID.4 models also do not have access to the information assistance service, but other than these variants, you should get access to the full Safe & Secure offering.
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