SEOUL: South Korea said on Thursday it had ordered Volkswagen to recall 125,500 diesel vehicles, after tests confirmed the German automaker had faked emissions results from the cars’ engines.
Announcing the results of the tests, the Environment Ministry also said it was fining the company 14.1 billion won ($12.3 million).
Volkswagen should submit its detailed recall plans including how to improve emissions of the cars in question to the ministry by January 6, it said in a statement.
The affected cars were mostly those sold in South Korea between 2008 and 2015, and included models like Volkswagen’s Tiguan and Beetle and the Audi Q5, Q3 and A4.
Bumper stickers identifying recalled and readjusted cars will be made obligatory to ensure consumers comply with the recall as early as possible, the ministry said.
Volkswagen has admitted that up to 11 million diesel cars worldwide are fitted with devices that can switch on pollution controls when they detect it is undergoing testing.
They then switch off the controls when the car is on the road, allowing it to spew out harmful levels of emissions.
“We respect the official investigation results of the environment ministry,” Volkswagen Korea said in a statement.
“We will take the necessary measures based on legal procedures and requirements under the relevant laws and regulations,” the statement said.
The world’s number-two automaker faces regulatory and criminal investigations in several countries, including Germany and the United States, and potentially billions of dollars in fines.
In addition, VW was shown earlier this month to have also understated carbon emissions for 800,000 vehicles. The company estimated this issue alone could cost it two billion euros ($2.1 billion).
The Environment Ministry in Seoul had conducted tests on six models sold by Volkswagen and its high-end Audi brand, and said it would expand the probe to 16 other foreign and local automakers to ensure they were not employing similar methods to cheat on emissions standards.
Those companies to be included in the investigation include top names like BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Volvo, Peugeot and Ford, as well as South Korea’s Hyundai Motor and its sister company Kia Motors.
The tests are scheduled to be completed by the end of April next year.
Thousands of South Korean owners of Volkswagen models have joined a class-action lawsuit against Volkswagen, demanding compensation for purchases made under false circumstances.
German brands have led a surge in sales of foreign cars in South Korea, notably following a free trade deal in 2011 that cut duties on vehicles imported from Europe.
Around 70 percent of foreign auto sales in South Korea are diesel engine vehicles.