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Massive VW Buyback Storage Encourages Different Industry: Car Theft

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Just When You Think Dieselgate Is In The Rearview, It’s Back

Whether Volkswagen suspected it or not, there is a spin-off industry growing up in the wake of the Dieselgate buybacks – car theft rings. Still reeling from fines and penalties that total nearly $25 billion and climbing, the automaker has found that some of the repurchased turbodiesels are trickling out of storage and into the market again.

Dieselgate was VW’s self-inflicted emission scandal

Briefly, Dieselgate was VW’s self-inflicted emissions scandal. The emissions scam, caused when the automaker found its very popular turbodiesel lineup – on sale from 2006 to 2016 – could not pass emissions tests for nitrous oxide (NOx). Knowing it couldn’t pass the tests, VW turned to cheating so that its turbodiesels appeared to pass the tests. It used a software “defeat switch” to do this. The switch turned on emissions-controlling software when testing was detected and turned it off when the tests finished. The turbodiesels, though they looked clean on paper, still emitted as much as 40 times the limits of NOx. VW felt the sting of punishment over the scandal as it has had to pay out huge sums and repurchase the turbodiesels.

A Volkswagen wagon sits in the automaker’s Silverdome storage site. Car thieves are trying to pilfer vehicles that were involved in Dieselgate.

The automaker also had to figure out what to do with nearly 400,000 repurchased vehicles. VW set up storage sites in the East, Midwest and West to house the repurchased cars. The automaker apparently thought it was secure storage, but Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) that were supposed to be off the books were suddenly appearing as active again.

Passats were among those vehicles found to have been taken from Silverdome storage.

Alarmed, Volkswagen knew that there was a big problem. Authorities found that nearly 70 vehicles had vanished from storage at the Pontiac, Mich. Superdome, former home of the Detroit Lions. Many of the vehicles turned up in Indiana and Kentucky. Some of the vehicles were linked to a Kentucky dealership which says it didn’t know the turbodiesels were stolen when it purchased them from a Michigan-based supplier.

Many cars located in Kentucky, Indiana

Investigators, looking into missing turbodiesels, found a total of nine vehicles in Indiana and Kentucky. Six Passat TDIs and three crossovers had bogus titles. Another 15 turbodiesels, sold at auction, also had fake Michigan titles. And, 12 more of the stolen VWs were still at the auction house. There was no information on the remaining 34 vehicles.

Volkswagen turbodiesels — sedan, wagon and SUV — were turned in for the huge buyback program.

This time around, VW isn’t taking chances as it is sending its employees to bring the wayward cars back to stadium storage. And, VW, which has had enough controversy with Dieselgate, is taking the lead in identifying and running down the stolen turbodiesels. The automaker nailed the theft ring when it found the revived VINs showing up on their system. The VINs spurred the multi-state probe that has resulted in the turbodiesel recoveries.

VW Tiguans turbodiesels were also involved in the thefts from Dieselgate buyback storage.

Categories: Automotive News

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