SEJONG, Jun. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s environment ministry said Tuesday it has again rejected Volkswagen’s plan to recall its vehicles that fabricated emissions results, saying the local unit of the German carmaker did not admit to using a defeat device to trick vehicle testing.
The Ministry of Environment disapproved the plan submitted by Audi Volkswagen Korea for not stipulating that the vehicles were equipped with what are called defeat devices, designed to manipulate emissions results.
The carmaker’s initial recall measures submitted in January were rejected by the ministry for insufficient data and no proper outline to rectify the shortcomings of the vehicles affected.
The second plan submitted in March was also rejected for insufficient information provided, with the ministry ordering supplemental details.
Now that the plan faces disapproval, Volkswagen needs to start the recall process all over again.
Volkswagen’s brand image has been tarnished since the so-called “diesel gate” scandal surfaced last year, when the automaker was found to have faked emissions results for some of its diesel models to meet the tight regulations in the United States. Massive recall plans were announced in major global markets.
In November, South Korean authorities fined the German carmaking giant 14.1 billion won (US$12.5 million) and ordered a recall of the affected vehicles. Thousands of car owners have also started lawsuits to demand refunds and compensation, saying they were duped into buying the cars equipped with the defeat devices.
Last week, prosecutors confiscated some 950 vehicles of Volkswagen Korea equipped with a new engine model — Audi A1s, A3s and Golfs.
All three types of vehicles passed Europe’s stronger emission standards, known as Euro 6. Still, there have been allegations that these cars did not actually meet the tougher requirements. Prosecutors suspect that some of the confiscated vehicles emit more than the permitted levels of harmful gases.
The problematic models have not been sold to local customers yet.
Also on Tuesday, some 500 South Korean consumers together filed a complaint with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, seeking a criminal investigation against some 12 former and current company officials, including ex-Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn and former head of the South Korean unit Andre Konsbruck.
Barun Law, who represents the plaintiffs, said the company executives sold the vehicles, disclosing the fact that they were in violation of the Clean Air Conservation Act. It also said the carmaker fooled consumers by advertising the vehicles under the slogan of “Clean Diesel.”