:Authorities, Volkswagen responsible for diesel crisis
The emissions cheating scandal surrounding the German automaker Volkswagen shows that a combination of dishonest, irresponsible business and incapable, negligent regulators can cause immense damage to innocent consumers.
Korean prosecutors questioned a senior executive of the Korean unit of the carmaker Monday, about five months after the Environment Ministry asked them to investigate the case.
Prosecutors suspect that the carmaker forged at least 48 fuel efficiency test records between June 2012 and October 2014. It also allegedly tampered with emissions and noise tests between August 2010 and February 2015.
Citing similar suspicions, the prosecution seized 956 vehicles that had been ready for sales in the country. Prosecutors say that 606 of them did not go through the appropriate environmental certification process.
The investigation was launched after the "diesel gate" scandal broke out in the U.S. last September. Investigations by the Environment Ministry and the prosecution found that the same thing — that the automaker lied about emissions and fuel efficiencies of the cars it sold — happened in Korea.
But there is a huge difference in the ways the automaker responded to the crisis in the U.S. and Korea. In the U.S., Volkswagen acknowledged its wrongdoings and is moving to pay about $5,000 to each owner of a car affected by the cheating.
In contrast, Volkswagen Korea failed to take due steps. It has yet to comply with the Environment Ministry’s order to recall cars. Officials say that Volkswagen Korea has submitted recall plans three times, but the rejected all of them because they lacked, among other things, the carmaker's acknowledgement of the use of a defeat device and relevant data.
Regarding compensation plans, Volkswagen Korea kept saying that it was waiting for a decision by the head office in Germany. It is obvious that the company has a different policy for the Korean market and consumers.
Authorities — like the Environment Ministry and the prosecution — cannot avoid criticism for allowing the automaker to take such an inappropriate and irresponsible attitude.
We should not discriminate against foreign businesses. Equally important is not to provide any unnecessary favors to them. Swifter, tougher sanctions should be meted out against Volkswagen Korea.
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