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USA Today
Matt Helms

DETROIT -- Colorado couple Marcus Moench and Elisabeth Caspari bought a 2011 diesel Volkswagen Jetta based on the automaker's promises about its emissions.

But now, after U.S. auto regulators revealed the automaker had installed software designed to cheat on emissions testing of VW diesel vehicles, the Boulder residents are driving cross-country to Volkswagen of America’s headquarters in Herndon, Va., to protest. They aren't the only ones.Greenpeace protesters have shown up in Europe to raise awareness of the issue as well.

The Casparis, who work on international environment issues, plan to return their 2011 Jetta on Tuesday and want VW to offer full refunds to customers who bought the cars. They stopped Saturday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to draw attention to the cause, for which they’ve teamed with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group on a campaign called Make VW Pay.

“The core reasons we had purchased it for were being undermined” by the emissions cheating, Moench said at a news conference across the street from the auto show. “We saw it as a fundamental moral outrage."

They also want to encourage VW to use the emissions scandal as an impetus for making more significant advances in technology to reduce emissions.

Anna Breen, a consumer-protection fellow for U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said Saturday that the group’s campaign aims to get customers full compensation for VW’s deception as well as for any damage it has done to the environment. PIRG has gathered 20,000 petition signatures from affected customers that will be presented to VW.

PIRG also is calling for tough financial penalties for the automaker, punishment for auto executives responsible and continued tough federal enforcement of auto emissions standards.

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