August 03, 2016 11:47
The government on Tuesday suspended sales of 80 Volkswagen models and fined the German carmaker W17.8 billion for falsifying emissions data (US$1=W1,111).
Authorities plan to conduct further tests of 83,000 Audis, Bentleys and Volkswagens sold in Korea for possible inconsistencies.
The Environment Ministry canceled the sales authorization of 80 models the German carmaker sold here since 2007 after the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office last month gave it a list of cars whose exhaust and noise test results were doctored.
Most of them were still in Audi or Volkswagen showrooms here recently. Even cars waiting to be unloaded at a port in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province will either have to be shipped back to Germany or stored indefinitely at the dockyard.
It has now become virtually impossible for the German automaker to sell cars here.
In November, Volkswagen was slapped with a sales ban covering 126,000 cars after it cheated on emissions tests. Adding the 83,000 vehicles now brings the total to 209,000, or roughly 68 percent of the 307,000 cars the automaker has sold here since 2007.
The government also fined Volkswagen W17.8 billion. Under revised environmental laws that went into effect late last month, the maximum fine violators face has been raised from W1 billion to W10 billion per model, but the change came too late to affect the ongoing case.
A ministry official said, "Volkswagen voluntarily halted sales on July 25, before the new law went into effect. We were told by our legal advisers that we can't apply it retroactively." By smartly halting sales at the 11th hour Volkswagen avoided a fine of W68 billion.
Volkswagen can reapply for sales authorization with correct data, which usually takes two weeks to three months but could take longer given the automaker's blotted record.
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