WASHINGTON — Volkswagen’s goodwill offer of $1,000 to the owners of cars caught in the emissions scandal comes as the company wages a behind-the-scenes effort to soothe another constituency: its U.S. dealers.

The German company is offering cash and no-interest loans to its roughly 650 dealerships that are stuck with cars that can’t be sold but are taking up lot space. It is also encouraging dealers to offer pre-scandal prices on trade-ins and promising to make up the difference in value.

“They have to keep those dealers on board, afloat and as happy as they can, because the dealers are going to be on the front line whenever there’s a fix for this problem,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Autotrader.com. “Dealers are absolutely critical when these bad things happen.”

And bad things have happened to VW, starting with the acknowledgment in September that it sold nearly 500,000 cars in the U.S. marketed as “clean diesel” but in fact emitted up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide.

Since then the number of cars under investigation worldwide has grown, prosecutors in Europe and the U.S. have opened probes and its stock has tumbled. Last week, U.S. regulators said that some newer models may be involved and VW itself admitted an additional problem with 800,000 cars.

VW has responded with extra incentives for dealers and consumers for the fuel-powered 2016 models that are still on sale. The discounts have averaged $4,192 on VW cars – a 52 percent increase – and $2,248 – or 70 percent higher – for Audi sport utility vehicles, according to AutoData Corp.

And VW just announced an additional “goodwill package” to owners of diesel-powered cars with 2.0-liter engines under investigation by EPA. The package includes $500 on a prepaid Visa card, $500 in dealership credits and three years of free roadside assistance.

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