The fallout from Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal entered a new chapter today after South Korea ordered the carmaker to recall 125,522 vehicles.
The country’s environment ministry said based on its own findings, Volkswagen deliberately fitted its so-called ‘defeat device’ in older diesel engines to produce false emissions readings.
South Korea is the first country other than the US to announce action based on its own independent testing of Volkswagen vehicles.
The cars containing the affected EA189 engines were primarily sold in South Korea between 2008 and 2015, the ministry said. Models being recalled include Volkswagen's Tiguan and Beetle, and Audi's A4 and Q3.
The carmaker has until 6 January to submit a recall plan, the ministry said, and has also been fined 14.1 billion won (US$12.3 million).
The ministry is continuing its investigation of Volkswagen’s newer EA288 engines, and said it would announce its results by April next year after testing the diesel models of 16 manufacturers.
The impact of the the global emissions scandal has gone beyond mere reputational damage for Volkswagen.
According to the Wall Street Journal, sales in Korea fell by 46 percent in October compared to the previous year, and 67 percent from the previous month.
Minsun Choi, general manager of The Hoffman Agency Korea, told PRWeek Asia that Volkswagen has been one of a number of foreign carmakers to experience huge success in Korea because of its brand trust, which now hangs in the balance.
"Volkswagen should consider how it will quickly restore its reputation and maintain local consumers’ trust. Continued open communication to show its strong commitment to giving value to the Korean users should definitely be considered as one of its key approaches."