Volkswagen of America said on Wednesday (18 November) that 120,000 owners of diesel cars, or about one quarter of the 482,000 total cars that have violated US emission standards, have claimed the $500 (£327) gift card and $500 toward vehicle repairs.

Last week, Volkswagen said it was offering a $500 prepaid Visa gift card, a separate card good for $500 toward services at a VW dealerships and free 24-hour roadside assistance for three years.

The company has set aside €6.5bn (£4.5bn, $6.9bn) to cover costs after it admitted to installing "defeat devices" in 11m vehicles worldwide with diesel engines built since 2008. The US Environmental Protection Agency has said VW could face up to $18bn in maximum fines.

VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said 120,000 owners have signed up to receive the gift cards - VW said taking part does not prevent owners from filing lawsuits. The carmaker faces hundreds of lawsuits around the country. VW Group of America President and CEO Michael Horn announced the news at the Los Angeles Auto Show, making his first significant public remarks since he testified before Congress on the emissions scandal on 8 October.

"I understand and I appreciate the impact that these recent revelations have had on our customers, our dealers and the US population at large. And there's frustration and there's sometimes anger but also support from lots of our Volkswagen customers and all these reactions are fully understandable since also everybody at Volkswagen of America lives exactly through the same emotions. My primary task is to push that things are made right and I can assure you that all of us have been working tirelessly toward that goal," said Horne.