Shocking images have emerged showing lines of cars stretching out as far as the eye can see in the Californian desert after Volkswagen was forced to buy back 350,000 cars for $7.4billion over the diesel scandal.
The German automaker has been forced to get creative when it comes to responsibly storing the hundreds of thousands of vehicles they had to buy back.
Storage lots include a shuttered suburban Detroit football stadium, a former Minnesota paper mill and the desert site near Victorville, California.
VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said in a statement on Wednesday that the storage facility in Victorville, California, is one of many ‘to ensure the responsible storage of vehicles that are bought back under the terms of the Volkswagen’ diesel settlements.
‘These vehicles are being stored on an interim basis and routinely maintained in a manner to ensure their long-term operability and quality, so that they may be returned to commerce or exported once U.S. regulators approve appropriate emissions modifications,’ she said.
While it was originally suggested Volkswagen may scrap the hundreds of thousands of cars for parts, it now appears that the manufacturer is hoping to return them to the market once they meet emissions guidelines.
But it may be some time before stung customers rush out to buy another VW.
In total, VW has agreed to spend more than $25 billion in the United States for claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting U.S. vehicles. The buy backs will continue through the end of 2019.
The court fling said through Dec. 31 Volkswagen had reacquired 335,000 diesel vehicles, resold 13,000 and destroyed about 28,000 vehicles. As of the end of last year, VW was storing 294,000 vehicles around the country.
VW must buy back or fix 85 per cent of the vehicles involved by June 2019 or face higher payments for emissions.
The company said in February it has repaired or fixed nearly 83 per cent of covered vehicles and expects to soon hit the requirement.
Through mid-February VW has issued 437,273 letters offering nearly $8 billion in compensation and buybacks.
Concerns over nitrogen dioxide emissions have grown since Volkswagen was found in September 2015 to have cheated air pollution tests for 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.
In April 2017, Volkswagen was sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to three felony counts and paid $4.3 billion in federal penalties.
Owners of affected vehicles in the US are being offered compensation worth thousands of pounds each, but the manufacturer is refusing to make payouts in the UK.
In January, the FBI arrested top VW executive Oliver Schmidt in Florida on conspiracy charges relating to the fuel emissions scandal.
He led the German company’s US regulatory compliance office from 2014 to March 2015. Lawsuits accuse Mr Schmidt of playing ‘an important role’ in Volkswagen’s efforts to conceal its emissions cheating from US regulators.
Watchdogs, MPs and consumer groups have expressed outrage at Volkswagen, saying the firm must pay out for cheating on emissions tests to make millions of their diesel vehicles appear less polluting.
The German automaker pleaded guilty in March 2017 to criminal charges that it defrauded the US and conspired to violate the Clean Air Act.
The company agreed to pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil fines, on top of $17.5 billion the company had already agreed to pay in settlements with car owners, dealers and for environmental cleanup.
Regulators in 2015 discovered that Volkswagen diesel cars marketed as clean in fact spewed up to 40 times the permissible limits of nitrogen oxide during normal driving, but this was hidden during emissions testing.
The company developed the illegal technology in 2009 and prosecutors alleged senior employees attempted a coverup after learning of the scheme in 2015.
Volkswagen still faces an array of legal challenges in Germany and worldwide relating to the scandal.
The global carmaker has so far set aside more than $24.4 billion to cover fines and compensation related to dieselgate, but experts estimate the final bill could be much higher.