While Volkswagen is now on a steam to buy back models powered by its emissions-cheating diesel engine in the United States, owners of these vehicles were also trying to get back at the German carmaker. More likely, VW car owners are trying to get more of their money back.
In October this year, Judge Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California green-lighted an agreement settling the differences between the carmaker and private plaintiffs. Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. and certain affiliates entered in April into an agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and regulatory agencies to compensate vehicle owners whose units were affected by the so-called dieselgate scandal in 2015.
The agreement meant that owners could opt for either a buyback or a modification subject to government approval. Moreover, customers whose VW cars are leased could cancel the lease and return their units to the carmaker. Around 500,000 VW cars powered by a 2.0-liter diesel engine in the US are affected. It was late 2015 when VW was found out to have been employing software that helps it evade emissions testing process and make its diesel engines seem cleaner than they actually are. The settlement is expected to cost the carmaker around $14.7 billion, of which around $10.33 billion will be used to buy back affected vehicles in the US.
VW’s current action to buy back affected vehicles in the US is based on the carmaker’s Buyback, Lease Termination, and Vehicle Modification Recall Program, which objective is to remove 2.0-liter VW vehicles emitting nitrogen oxides (NOx) in excess of applicable standards from the streets. In buying back the affected vehicles, an eligible owner will return an eligible vehicle to VW in exchange for a payment equaling or exceeding the car’s retail replacement value. According to the program, an eligible vehicle is any 2.0-liter vehicle that: is a model listed by the scheme; registered with a state Department of Motor Vehicles and located in the US as of June 28, 2016; and is operable when brought in for the buyback.
Now, some owners of these affected vehicles are taking advantage of the term “operable” as defined by the program. The buyback program defines an operable vehicle as one that can be driven under its own 2.0-liter TDI engine power. It is not operable if it has been marked “assembled,” “dismantled,” “flood,” “junk,” “rebuilt,” “reconstructed,” or “salvaged” as of September 18, 2015. This simply means that that vehicle’s 2.0-liter TDI engine is still able to function and drive the unit. This could also mean that even if owners strip down their VW vehicles, it is still eligible for the buyback program so as long as it can still be driven by its own diesel engine.
One Reddit user claimed that he removed the front fascia and headlights of his Golf GTI before bringing it in for the buyback. Luckily, – as this man claims – VW accepted his Golf GTI and he was issued a check for $21,436. Many others have reportedly done a similar thing.
Theoretically, there are quite a number of removable parts inside a VW car that could be sold off for extra cash. Yes, aside from the compensation from VW, it looked like owners could also get their money back by selling off removed parts, which could include headlights, floor mats, seats, mirrors, jacks and even visors. After all, even when these parts are stripped off, a VW vehicle could still run, provided that its 2.0-liter diesel engine is still installed and functional.
However, while this is theoretically possible, there has been discussion over the ethics of doing so. But if you look on what VW did to present its 2.0-liter diesel vehicles as eco-friendly units, it seemed like the German carmaker also did an unethical thing. So for those who felt like cheated by the Dieselgate scandal, stripping off their vehicles before returning them for the buyback is a way to get back at Volkswagen.
Nonetheless, it seems VW is not really concerned whether a returned vehicle is stripped off its parts, as it is more concerned about taking affected models and their cheating diesel engines off the roads and highways in the US.