The Volkswagen Group has had sales of 80 of its models suspended by the South Korean government as the fallout from the Dieselgate scandal continues.
The government revoked the certification of 32 types of car from Volkswagen, Audi and Bentley, including the Volkswagen Golf and the Volkswagen Jetta. With variants, it amounts to 80 models in total, or most of the cars sold by the group in South Korea, with just five models unaffected. The company was also fined 17.8 billion won (£12 million).
The move follows government raids on the offices of Volkswagen in Seoul and the arrest of a senior executive as part of investigations following VW’s admission that it falsified emissions data.
The latest ban affects 83,000 sold and unsold cars. In November, the South Korean government fined VW 14.1bn won (£9.55m) and revoked the certification of more than 125,000 diesel cars that were equipped with the emissions-cheating software. The cars were ordered to be recalled, although that has yet to happen as discussions between the government and the car maker continue.
Some 209,000 vehicles have now been decertified, representing 68% of the cars sold by the Volkwagen Group in South Korea since 2007. A government official told reporters that it could take more than three months for sales to recommence, according to Reuters. Environment minister Hong Dong-gon told reporters that any delay in recalls previously ordered over emissions test manipulation could be met with an order for VW to exchange those vehicles for other models.
Volkswagen had halted sales of most models from 25 July, ahead of the government’s decision. A letter to customers posted on Volkwagen’s South Korean website said it could take legal action against the government if it would help recover the firm’s reputation and benefit customers and dealers.
The Volkswagen Group released a statement on behalf of Audi Volkswagen Korea saying it was working with the South Korean authorities to find a fast solution “and to ensure full clarification of the irregularities in the type approval procedure”.
It stated that South Korea was an important growth market and a strategic mainstay of the Volkswagen Group in Asia.
“The objective is to offer the full range of vehicles to customers and dealers in South Korea again as soon as possible,” the statement said. “All the vehicles already registered by the authorities may still be used without any restrictions. In the meantime, the Volkswagen, Audi and Bentley brands would like to thank their customers for their loyalty and patience and are doing everything in their power to maintain the trust which has been placed in them.”