Graveyard of Mistakes: Photos of a Volkswagen car cemetery

Graveyard of Mistakes: Photos of a Volkswagen car cemetery

CultureJuly 26, 2017 By Samantha Keller

Just a few short hours south of Denver, Colorado, sits a different kind of cemetery, one stocked full of brand spankin’ new cars — some of them clocking only a few dozen or so miles on the odometer — with an uncertain future outside of bleaching away under the scorching summer sun. Here resides thousands of diesel Volkswagens, unable to be sold to consumers because of a maliciously installed “defeat device” meant to circumvent environmental regulations put forward by the Clean Air Act, signed by former President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1963.

The storage lot outside the city of Fountain near the Pike's Peak International Raceway is just one of many “undisclosed locations” throughout the U.S. being used to house almost 500,000 vehicles built between 2009 and 2015.

In June of 2016, Volkswagen agreed to pay $15.3 billion for knowingly rigging the emissions control systems, the largest auto-related consumer class-action lawsuit in U.S. history.

Volkswagen cannot resell the cars, even in different countries with less restrictive air regulations, without the American government’s approval first. The company has until October of 2017 to put forward an acceptable proposal on how to fix, modify, junk or resell existing vehicles.

Photos by Samantha Keller, words by Brian Frederick