AUGUSTA — For the people who sell diesel-powered Volkswagens and the people who drive them, the fix for the software emissions cheat installed in VW’s popular diesel models can’t come soon enough.

For the automobile company, it may come too late.

In dealerships around the state, VW TDIs – the diesel versions of Jettas, Jetta SportWagens, Beetles and Beetle convertibles, Golfs, Golf SportWagens and Passats – are sitting on car lots under a “stop sale” order. The company has ordered all sales of the affected models to stop until it can sort out how to fix the emission software.

Chris Crowell, general manager of O’Connor Volkswagen in Augusta, said the stop sale order affects up to half of the dealership’s inventory.

“It’s an unfortunate circumstance,” he said. “But it’s not a safety recall like the ones issued for GM and Toyota.”

In those cases, mechanical issues drove recalls. For the VW models affected, which also include Audi A3s, the emissions system essentially turns off vehicle emission controls unless the emissions are being measured, such as during an inspection. The system has resulted in better-performing vehicles, but at the expense of emitting far more pollution than the company had claimed.

Bill Sowles, president of Morong in Falmouth, said the stop sale order is frustrating because it means about 35 diesel cars are removed from his car lot’s inventory until Volkswagen develops new software to bring the cars in compliance.

“It’s demoralizing for my sales people, and it’s not good for business,” he said.

In Waterville, Mark Thompson at Thompson Volkswagen is under the same stop sale order; about 20 percent of his inventory is affected.

“We’ll be very happy when a remedy comes out,” Thompson said. “I know several people who drive them who are very happy with them.”

On Tuesday, VW announced that information on a recall is imminent. While nearly half a million of the vehicles are on U.S. roads, Maine’s share is a fraction of that. According to the Maine Department of Motor Vehicles, 1,045 of the affected models are registered here.

How VW customers will react to the debacle remains to be seen. Nathan Chan, an assistant professor of economics at Colby College in Waterville, teaches a class called Voluntary and Information-based Approaches to Environmental Management, which examines aspects of consumer activism.

When the BP oil spill fouled the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, Chan said, consumer backlash erupted in calls for boycotting BP gas stations.

“That intervention was not super effective,” he said, because a boycott must have more people caring about an issue than people who don’t.

Many consumers don’t have strong loyalty to gasoline brands, he said, and while BP was trying to burnish its environmental image, it wasn’t strongly identified that way.

“Was there forgiveness? Some might call it forgetfulness,” he said.

The VW mess presents a very different scenario, Chan said, because loyalty for auto brands is much stronger. Measuring consumer sentiment on the massive emissions scandal may take some time, but sometimes third parties have a greater immediate impact, he said.

VW in particular has had an established reputation for environmental stewardship, reaching the top of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. The index tracks stock performance of top-rated publicly traded companies that meet specific economic, environmental and social criteria.

Chan said in reading about the case Tuesday he saw that VW will be dropped from the index. In fact, RobecoSAM and S&P Dow Jones Indices, the companies that run the index, announced Tuesday VW will be dropped from its rolls Oct. 6.

In the meantime, Maine dealerships are waiting for information on the 2016 VW models, which have not been released yet.

Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Tom Bell contributed to this report.