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(5th LD) S. Korea orders Volkswagen to recall 125,000 vehicles

All Headlines 14:06 November 26, 2015

(ATTN: ADDS Volkswagen Korea's statement in 8th para)

SEOUL/SEJONG, Nov. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's environment ministry said Thursday that it has ordered a recall of over 125,000 Volkswagen vehicles sold in South Korea after it found that the German carmaker had fabricated emissions results.

The decision was based on more than a month-long investigation of six vehicle models sold here by Volkswagen and its luxury brand Audi, which was sparked by the September revelation in the U.S. that it had cheated on emissions tests.

The environment ministry said that the Tiguan equipped with the EA189 engine was found to have faked its emissions results by using the so-called defeat device.

"We have not found yet that other tested models also used the defeat device but will keep looking into the suspicion by reviewing all related data," the ministry said.

The ministry has ordered a recall of 125,522 vehicles of 15 models and a suspension of unsold vehicles. It also fined the German carmaker a total of 14.1 billion won (US$12.3 million).

Subject to the recall order are the Tiguan and Beetle of Volkswagen and the Q5, Q3 and A4 of Audi, according to company officials.

Volkswagen should submit detailed recall plans to the ministry by Jan. 6, including how to enhance emissions results and maintain fuel efficiency after removing the software in question.

"We respect the official investigation results of the environment ministry. We will take the necessary measures based on legal procedures and requirements under the relevant laws and regulations," Volkswagen Korea said in a statement emailed to reporters.

The ministry said that it will expand the probe to other automakers to determine whether they have used similar methods to cheat on emissions results.

The probe will be carried out from next month on 16 carmakers selling diesel models here, which will include the country's top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. The investigation will be underway until April next year.

Taking the baton from the environment ministry, the transportation ministry will carry out its own investigation to see if the defeat device installed in those cars could have affected fuel efficiency and safety for passengers.

In September, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that Volkswagen had used stealthy software to fabricate emissions results of some of its diesel models in order to pass strict environment standards in the U.S.

U.S. authorities earlier announced a recall and other punishment measures for around 480,000 Volkswagen vehicles in connection with the cheating scandal.

Recently, Volkswagen has unveiled a compensation package only for customers in the U.S. and Canada in connection with the emissions scandal, sparking outcry from customers in other markets including South Korea.

A law firm that is leading a class-action lawsuit against Volkswagen here said that it made an official request for the same compensation plan for local customers, a demand to which no response has so far been made.

A environment ministry official said that he heard that the local unit of Volkswagen has requested its German headquarters to draw up any kind of compensation measures for Korean customers. A company official declined to confirm it.


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