Volkswagen is attempting to close down a rather large loophole in the requirements of the diesel buyback scheme.
Under the terms of the Consent Decree signed with the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year, VW agreed to buy back emissions cheating diesel cars that are "operable." The decree defines operable as a vehicle that "can be driven under its own 2.0-liter TDI engine power." Nowhere does it say what sort of condition the car should be in.
Now that the buyback process has actually started, a number of owners have seized upon that loophole and stripped off everything that does not affect their car’s operability, to sell on separately. Stuff like bumpers, lights, and interior trim. And because VW has agreed to pay a fixed amount for every car, a stripped’s car value goes unaffected.
Earlier this week, Joe Mayer, a car salesman from Cincinnnati, posted pictures on Instagram showing he had taken the principle to its logical conclusion. He stripped his 2010 VW Golf TDI of the front and rear passenger seats, much of the interior trim and dashboard, the bumpers, hood, front fenders, tailgate, the doors, and even the windshield wipers.
But Jalopnik reports that Mayer’s plan may have backfired. After the website ran his story, Mayer got a call from VW telling him that his buyback appointment had been postponed. According to Mayer, the rep who called him said VW thought that stripping the car "wasn’t in the spirit of the buyback."
Mayer added that he was not given any indication of when his new appointment would be, and that he was asked to direct questions to an attorney. He believes VW is simply trying to buy time until it can find a reason not to pay up.
VW sent a statement to Jalopnik that said: "The program is governed by specific eligibility guidelines and other conditions which were agreed by all parties and approved by the Court."
“The great majority of Volkswagen owners take very good care of their vehicles and are returning them for buyback intact.”
VW hopes it can eventually make buyback cars compliant with emissions rules and sell them on. It obviously can't do that with cars like Mayer's.
Is Mayer looking a gift horse in the mouth, or should VW hold its hands up and take the hit?