SEOUL, July 13 (Korea Bizwire) – Following its shocking emissions scandal, Volkswagen may have settled matters with the U.S., but it still has a long way to go in South Korea.
An official investigation into Volkswagen’s manipulation of emissions data is ongoing, and Korea is likely to ban the sale of 32 Volkswagen models by the end of July.
The Prosecutors’ Office (PO) notified the Ministry of Environment last month regarding its recent findings of Volkswagen’s fraudulent emissions and noise tests. During its investigation, prosecutors seized substantial evidence showing that the automaker fabricated test results for some of its vehicles, including the Audi A3 and A6, and the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, and Tiguan.
Following a request from prosecutors to revoke the certification of the concerned vehicles, the ministry said it will hold a public hearing regarding the 32 models – 18 diesel and 14 gasoline – and notified Audi-Volkswagen Korea of the matter on Tuesday. Of the 32 models, 27 are currently being sold in Korea.
“The ministry will finalize its decision to revoke the certification by the end of this month,” said a PO official. “And the prosecutors will coordinate with the ministry for the final selection of models that will be banned for sale.”
According to the ministry, once the final decision is made to withdraw the certification, the sales of the concerned vehicles will be banned, and a maximum of 1 billion won ($873,000) will be levied as fines per model sold. Volkswagen will also have to recall and pay additional fines for the vehicles that have already been sold.
Officials estimate that approximately 79,000 units – 61,000 diesel and 18,000 gasoline – of the controversial models have been sold since 2007. Including some 125,000 vehicles that had their certification revoked back in 2015, the number will represent about 70 percent of all Volkswagen vehicles sold in Korea since 2007.
Prosecutors also asked German officials to collaborate in its planned investigation of Volkswagen headquarters in Germany.
“Our German counterparts will first have to determine if the matter is subject to mutual assistance in criminal matters,” he added. “So we’ll have to wait for their decision for now.”
Meanwhile, prosecutors indicted an executive from the local unit of Volkswagen, only disclosed as Yoon, on Tuesday over his alleged involvement in the carmaker’s test result irregularities.
Prosecutors suspect that Yoon played a major role in doctoring reports on the vehicles’ emissions results, noise levels and fuel efficiency between August 2010 and February 2015 to get approval from the Korean government. He is also suspected of importing 461 automobiles that did not go through the proper certification process in 2014.
Following the 2015 emissions scandal, and this year’s investigation, Volkswagen’s sales have suffered, dropping by 33 percent in H1 2016. Audi also saw its sales fall by 10 percent.
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)