HERNDON, VA. - Volkswagen of America Inc. has launched a VW-certified collision repair facility program for U.S. dealer-affiliated and independent body shops.

This program provides VW-certification for collision repair facilities performing repairs in accordance with Volkswagen's safety standards and specifications.

"Volkswagen is excited to partner with both dealer-affiliated and independent collision repair facilities to increase repair quality and customer satisfaction with the Volkswagen brand," said Matthew McCauley, collision program manager for Volkswagen of America. "This program benefits Volkswagen owners by providing the peace of mind that comes from knowing that when a vehicle is involved in a collision, VW-certified collision repair facilities will maintain the brand's safety standards and specifications."

Volkswagen said it conducted a pilot with a group of 15 repair facilities to maximize program benefits for body shops before launching the program nationally.

Technicians at Volkswagen-certified collision repair facilities must undergo training in the proper use of the factory-approved repair equipment, tools and technologies to meet Volkswagen's exact safety standards and specifications. Repair facilities must also use Volkswagen-approved tools. Volkswagen will visit repair facilities to provide annual program certification and will list VW-certified collision repair facilities as they become certified on www.vw.com.

Volkswagen said it will provide collision repair facilities access to marketing materials to promote their certified status, in addition to exclusive access to vehicle-specific, structural material, and collision industry training on a dedicated program Web site, http://www.vwparts.com/collision-parts/certified-collision-repair-facility-program/.

Volkswagen will also provide customers with free 24-hour towing of vehicles under warranty exclusively to VW-certified collision repair facilities as part of the roadside assistance program, when they simply call (800) 411-6688.