Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars, bought back by the Volkswagen group, stand in a desert graveyard near Victorville, California. Picture: REUTERS
Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars, bought back by the Volkswagen group, stand in a desert graveyard near Victorville, California. Picture: REUTERS

Volkswagen (VW) has taken parking lots to a whole new level in the US — and will not be emptying them soon.

VW has paid more than $7.4bn to buy back about 350,000 US diesel vehicles through mid-February, a recent court filing shows. The German car maker has been storing hundreds of thousands of vehicles around the US for months.

Volkswagen has 37 secure storage facilities around the US housing nearly 300,000 vehicles, the filing from the programme’s independent administrator said. The lots include a shuttered suburban Detroit football stadium, a former Minnesota paper mill and a sun-bleached desert graveyard near Victorville, California.

VW spokesperson Jeannine Ginivan said in a statement on Wednesday that the storage facility in California was one of many "to ensure the responsible storage of vehicles that are bought back under the terms of the VW" 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 US regulators approve appropriate emissions modifications," she said.

In total, VW has agreed to spend more than $25b in the US for claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers, and offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting US vehicles. The buy backs will continue to the end of 2019.

The court fling said that to the end of December, VW had reacquired 335,000 diesel vehicles, resold 13,000 and destroyed about 28,000 vehicles. As of the end of 2017, VW was storing 294,000 vehicles around the US.

VW must buy back or fix 85% of the vehicles involved by June 2019 or face higher payments for emissions.

The company said in February it had repaired or fixed nearly 83% of covered vehicles and expected to soon hit the requirement.

By the middle of February, VW had issued 437,273 letters offering nearly $8bn in compensation and buybacks.

In April 2017 Volkswagen was sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to three felony counts and paid $4.3bn in federal penalties. In September 2015, the car maker admitted to circumventing the emissions control system in US diesel vehicles for vehicles sold since 2009, prompting the resignation of the company’s chief executive.

Reuters

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