Volkswagen AG said on Monday it would give financial assistance to its U.S. dealers who wish to use their loaner fleet to pickup and deliver essential supplies in areas affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The loaner cars, typically offered to customers to drive while their vehicles are in a shop for repairs, can be called upon for delivering food to a local food bank, transporting masks and gowns, and dropping off necessary items to those who are unable to leave their home, the automaker said.

Volkswagen said its dealers would not charge the group or person making such a request.

"Only dealership employees will be permitted to drive the vehicles. Volkswagen corporate will offer dealers a daily stipend per vehicle to cover fuel and lease costs," the automaker said.

Volkswagen's network of more than 600 U.S. dealers maintains a loaner fleet of nearly 7,000 vehicles, although some dealerships could be closed or working with reduced personnel due to state and local guidelines. Volkswagen says it will mainly be using the Atlas as a delivery vehicle.

"Those looking to enlist the services of the Community-Driven Atlas initiative should contact their local dealer to inquire about availability and assistance," Volkswagen concludes.

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