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South Korea suspends sales of 32 Volkswagen models in emissions probe

Europe's largest automaker more than tripled sales in South Korea to 35,778 last year, before suffering a slump following the emissions scandal. Photograph: (AFP)

Reuters Seoul, South Korea Aug 02, 2016, 06.10 AM (IST)
South Korea suspended sales of 32 Volkswagen Group models and fined the German automaker 17.8 billion won ($16.06 million) today, accusing it of forging documents on emissions or noise-level tests.

"As a result of the last week's hearing, we've decided to revoke the certification of 32 types and 80 models as of today. The sale of new cars will be suspended once the decision for the nullification of certification is made," said Hong Dong-gon, director of the environmental transportation division at the environment ministry, at a briefing in Sejong city.

The move by Asia's fourth-biggest economy puts more pressure on Volkswagen as it struggles to repair its reputation after it admitted in September to using illegal software to hide toxic emissions on about 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.

Europe's largest automaker more than tripled sales in South Korea to 35,778 last year, before suffering a slump following the emissions scandal. South Korea is one of the major markets for its luxury brands like Audi and Bentley.

The environment ministry said it had revoked certification for 83,000 diesel and petrol-fuelled Volkswagen, Audi and Bentley vehicles, bringing the total number of VW vehicles de-certified in South Korea to 209,000.

"If we add 83,000 vehicles from the crackdown this time with 125,500 vehicles from last November, 68 per cent of the total number of the vehicles (Volkswagen had sold in the country since 2007) has been de-certified," said Hong.

In November, the government revoked certification of 126,000 VW vehicles, ordered their recall and fined Volkswagen 14.1 billion won, accusing the company of manipulating an emissions control system.

"We've decided to fine 17.8 billion won ($16.06 million), which has slightly risen from 14.1 billion won fine of November last year," said Hong.

Prosecutors subsequently raided Volkswagen's Seoul offices and arrested an executive.

Volkswagen voluntarily suspended sales of most of its models in South Korea from July 25, ahead of the government's decision.

(Reuters)
 
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