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Korean customers left in lurch by Volkswagen over emissions scandal

All Headlines 10:42 May 20, 2016

SEOUL, May 20 (Yonhap) -- Volkwagen AG has rolled out a set of measures, including expensive recalls and cash rewards, to placate customers cheated over gas emissions in the United States and Japan, but South Korean customers seem to be left in the lurch by the emissions scandal, industry sources said Friday.

According to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers' Association (KAMA), Volkswagen cut the prices of popular Golf and Polo models in Japan and extended the warranty service period and other benefits.

In the U.S., the German automaker has agreed to repurchase some 500,000 vehicles fitted with cheating software and pay cash to some Volkswagen owners.

Volkswagen is also planning to recall its vehicles in other countries that are involved in the case, but it is still unclear when it will do so in South Korea.

In March, South Korea's environment ministry rejected Volkswagen's plan to recall its vehicles, citing the plan's insufficiency.

The German carmaker submitted its recall plan to the Ministry of Environment for around 125,000 vehicles equipped with what are called defeat devices designed to manipulate emissions results.

The ministry, however, demanded more supplementation and said the German carmaker failed to provide software to fix the problematic cars.

The carmaker's initial recall measures submitted in January were also rejected by the ministry for insufficient data and no proper outline to rectify the shortcomings of the vehicles affected.

In March, prosecutors raided Volkswagen's vehicle inspection center in South Korea. In February, the headquarters of its local unit in Seoul was raided.

Volkswagen's brand image has been tarnished since the so-called diesel gate surfaced last year, when the automaker was found to have faked emissions results for some of its diesel models to meet tight regulations in the United States.

Industry sources said Volkswagen's high-handed attitude is because its vehicles are still selling well here.

Volkswagen sold some 35,700 vehicles in South Korea last year, the third largest after BMW with 47,800 units and Mercedes-Benz with 46,900. In particular, its Tiguan 2.0 TDI BlueMotion was the best-selling foreign car here last year, driven by its aggressive marketing.

"In other countries, Volkswagen is trying to woo customers back through a variety of incentives, but the carmaker is not taking proper actions," a source said.

sam@yna.co.kr
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