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(Yonhap Interview) Volkswagen to recall vehicles if Seoul approves revised software

All News 18:12 June 02, 2016

By Choi Kyong-ae

BUSAN, June 2 (Yonhap) -- Volkswagen Korea will recall the vehicles with the controversial software installed on them to cheat on emissions testing if the South Korean government approves a revised software submitted by the German carmaker, the company's managing director said Thursday.

Early this year, Volkswagen Korea submitted the overhauled software to the Ministry of Environment after it admitted last year that it had deceived regulators about how much its diesel cars were polluting the air.

"The software is delivered to the ministry and they are now checking. When they (the revised software) are approved, we are getting into recall (the cars mated with the cheating software and sold in Korea). (Then) we will start to earn back trust (here)," Volkswagen Korea Managing Director Thomas Kuehl said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency. The interview was held on the sidelines of the Busan International Motor Show that opened in the port city on Thursday.

In Korea, nine Volkswagen models, including the Golf hatchback, the Passat midsize sedan and the CC coupe, are involved in the emissions scandal.

As for possible compensation for Korean buyers of its vehicles, the managing director said if there were any inconveniences, Volkswagen Korea will find a solution to eliminate them for its customers.

But he added that it all depends on the legal situation and what results will be for individual customers. "U.S. compensation is not fixed. We have to see what's the outcome. Compensation depends on how the fixes are done."

On Wednesday, prosecutors raided Volkswagen Korea to confiscate Audi A1 and A3 sedans and the latest version of the Golf to see if there are leaks in exhaust pipes.

The managing director was unhappy with the confiscation because the models just came in and are not ready for the local market.

"I am surprised because these cars are not released into the market. Normally you should only discuss cars that are released. They were meant to be launched somewhere at the end of this year," he said.

He expected prosecutors to give the company the findings by the end of this month.

When it comes to the issue of raising diesel taxes, he said Volkswagen is getting less dependent on diesel vehicles.

"In the past, we were 98 percent diesel and now we are 85 percent diesel. All our platforms are ready to carry plug-in electric vehicle. We invested a lot in platforms for all powertrains. We will diversify," Kuehl said.

Still, he remained cautious, saying diesel is popular and competitive compared to other powertrains because electricity has to be produced.

As local carmakers produce diesel versions of half of their vehicles and 80 percent of imported vehicles are diesel cars, taxes on diesel vehicles will have an impact on the auto industry, he added.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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