SEOUL, Nov. 22 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government is expected to announce the results of its investigation of foreign vehicles this month, officials said Tuesday, possibly breaking a longstanding industry practice that helped foreign automakers bypass local certification procedures.
"The environment ministry will release within this month the outcome of its full count probe that was initiated by the Volkswagen certification problem," a ministry official said.
The investigation began in August after the Volkswagen fiasco, in which the German automaker was found to have manipulated the noise level, fuel efficiency and emissions of its vehicles to get them approved for local sale by the South Korean government. Industry officials say such manipulation was possible because of a practice among foreign brands who, after obtaining certification for one model of a vehicle, submit certification applications for other models using same specifications as the approved model. This helped speed up the process and expedite local launching of new cars.
While rumors of the practice have long been in circulation, local authorities found proof at Volkswagen and began a probe into all overseas automakers that operate in South Korea.
Certifications for 83,000 Volkwagen cars were canceled on top of a sales ban in August.
Industry officials say while no notices have been given to automakers suspected of wrongful certification, speculations are that three to four companies have been found to have problems and that they will be subject to the same kind of punitive measures as Volkswagen.
"There will not be prior notices to companies before the official announcement," the ministry official said. "Hearings for the companies to make their arguments will be held after the announcement."
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