As part of its $15.3 billion settlement with customers who unknowingly bought diesel vehicles that cheated emissions tests, Volkswagen promised to quickly buy back the cars.
A drive by the Pontiac Silverdome parking lot is enough to see the buyback is in progress, but the Associated Press reports that some owners aren’t happy with its speed.
In recent weeks, Volkswagen has been using the massive parking lot at the Silverdome as one of its regional storage facilities for bought-back cars.
On Wednesday, Jan. 25, a Volkswagen spokesperson wrote in an email that “we are encouraged by the customer response to the 2.0L TDI settlement program and the exceptional participation rate so far.”
But some aren’t encouraged by the program.
“I almost feel like there’s a stall tactic going,” Eric Larson, 42, a Minnesota man who claims he has spent three months trying to get VW to buy back his 2012 A3, told A.P.
“That’s what scares me about this thing.”
On Friday, the German automaker told A.P. that delays and associated hiccups in the process are related to the volume of buyback requests.
In the three months since the settlement was announced, VW has received nearly 400,000 requests from owners who unknowingly bought a cheating diesel.
Once an owner applies for a buyback, VW has 10 days to review the application and an additional 10 days to make an offer. Larson told A.P. that VW sent him an email on Nov. 15, 2016 that it had all the needed documents but did not receive his offer of $27,500 for the car until Jan. 18.
A spokesperson for company said Volkswagen is not going to comment on the number of vehicles at the Silverdome or specific locations of its storage facilities for vehicles.
Jalopnik reports the German automaker has regional storage facilities at the decommissioned Norton Air Force Base in California, the Port of Baltimore and the Silverdome in Pontiac.
Larson believes the Volkswagen is dragging its feet due to the fact that the longer VW waits, cars sustain more miles, which reduces the buyback amount.
Volkswagen, which said it hired 1,300 new employees to help with the buyback, denies Larson’s allegation in the A.P. report.
David Derkach, an 18-year-old Seattle student who claims he’s taking fewer college classes while waiting for his VW check, said he had issues with paperwork, but has not received his offer after clearing everything up, according to A.P.
“As of January 14th, Volkswagen had extended more than 266,000 offers to affected customers and by the end of January, we expect to have processed approximately 96,000 buybacks and lease terminations,” a company spokesperson told MLive.
“This program is unprecedented in terms of its size and scope and we have hired approximately 1,300, contract employees to help accommodate demand.”
Volkswagen said it will regularly maintain the vehicles once they are in a regional storage facility until an “approved emissions modification” takes place. The German automaker reports that vehicles not approved for emissions modification will be recycled.
In April 2016, VW agreed to give customers of more than half a million cars found to have cheated on diesel emissions tests a chance to have the vehicles bought back or be fixed.
The agreement also includes funds set aside to combat excess pollution, and required money committed to promoting green automotive technology.
Volkswagen has admitted to using software, known as a defeat device, in the 2009-2015 Audi A3 and the Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Jetta and Passat TDI cars with 2.0-liter diesel engines to trick emissions tests. About 482,000 were sold in the U.S., and 11 million were sold globally.
The VW cars with 2-liter diesel engines would meet emissions standards tests in a laboratory or testing station, but in normal operation, they emit nitrogen oxides at up to 40 times the standard, according to the EPA.The company also admitted to using the software in some of its vehicles with 3.0-liter diesel engines.
Six current and former executives, five who currently live in Germany, have also been criminally charged in Detroit federal court for crimes that allegedly occurred between 2006 and 2015 stemming from the emission scandal.
In addition, Volkswagen agreed to plead guilty to three felonies and pay $2.8 billion in criminal penalties and $1.5 billion in civil claims.