South Korea said Thursday it had ordered Volkswagen (VW) to recall 125,500 diesel vehicles, after tests confirmed the German automaker had faked emissions results from the cars' engines.
Announcing the results of the tests, the South Korean Ministry of Environment also said it was fining the company 14.1 billion won ($12.3 million). Volkswagen should submit its detailed recall plans including how to improve emissions of the cars in question to the ministry by Jan. 6, it said in a statement. The vehicles were mostly those sold in South Korea between 2008 and 2015, and included Tiguan, Golf and Beetle models equipped with the EA189 diesel engine. Bumper stickers identifying recalled and readjusted cars will be made obligatory to ensure consumers comply with the recall as early as possible, the ministry said.
One of the world's biggest carmakers, Volkswagen has admitted that up to 11 million diesel cars worldwide are fitted with devices that can switch on pollution controls when they detect it is undergoing testing. They then switch off the controls when the car is on the road, allowing it to spew out harmful levels of emissions.
Thousands of South Korean owners of Volkswagen models have joined a class-action lawsuit against the German automaker, demanding cancellation of their purchase or full refunds. The Environment Ministry in Seoul had conducted tests on six models sold by Volkswagen and its high-end Audi brand. The ministry said the government would expand the probe to 16 other local and foreign automakers that sell diesel cars in the country to ensure they were not employing similar methods to cheat on emissions standards.
The companies include South Korea's Hyundai Motors and its sister company Kia Motors, as well as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volvo, Peugeot and Ford. The tests are scheduled to be completed by the end of April next year.
Elsewhere, California regulators also ordered Volkswagen Wednesday to recall some diesel vehicles equipped with emissions-cheating software in coming months. The California Air Resources Board said it had notified Volkswagen Group of America to recall all VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles equipped with 3-liter diesel engines in the model years 2009-2015 that were sold in California.
The company has 45 business days to submit its plan to begin the process of recalling and repairing the illegal emissions software, said CARB, part of the California Environmental Protection Agency. The western state has some of the toughest environmental regulations in the U.S.
"This action is the result of an admission by officials at Audi A.G., manufacturer of all the engines involved, that the vehicles contain three auxiliary emissions control devices," CARB said in a statement on its website. The recall will involve between 15,000 and 16,000 3-liter diesel vehicles, Dave Clegern, a CARB spokesman, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). In its letter to Volkswagen, the agency noted that though the 3-liter engine was developed by Audi, it has been used in certain VW and Porsche models since 2009.