The Korean government said on Jan.12 that is has approved Volkswagen’s first set of recall plans for 27,000 Tiguan SUVs sold with faked emissions tests.
The recall is set to begin on Feb. 6.
The decision follows the indictment of seven former and current staff at Audi Volkswagen Korea, including the Korean unit chief Johannes Thammer,
“We will send out letters explaining the recall procedures and schedules to all the customers of the targeted vehicles starting on Jan. 24,” the company said in a public statement. “The recall is free of charge and there will be a variety of services provided (to assist with the recall).”
Volkswagen said it planned to operate a separate call center for its recall customers, as well as provide vehicle pick-up and drop-off services. The carmaker also added that it will offer financial assistance to customers who will be forced to take public transportation.
Thammer apologized for the delay in instituting the recall and said the company hoped to minimize inconvenience through an efficient recall process.
After the Volkswagen emissions scandal broke out in the US in 2015, the Environment Ministry here decided to launch its own investigation. The probe found fabricated emissions results for roughly 126,000 VW vehicles.
Volkswagen executives were indicted following a yearlong investigation, and are accused of using a “defeat device” to alter emissions readings and churning out false reports between 2010 and 2016 to meet environmental standards.
Thammer, who was managing director of Audi Volkswagen Korea since 2012, was charged with violating the Clean Air Conservation Act.
On top of a 14.1 billion won ($11.9 million) fine, the German carmaker was ordered to remove its defeat devices and initiate a recall plan for all the manipulated vehicles.
A group of Volkswagen vehicle owners, meanwhile, said through their legal representative that they would file a suit requesting cancellation of the recall plan’s approval. They claim that the government’s investigation has been insufficient in the areas of performance degradation and durability.
Officials at Audi Volkswagen Korea said they were currently working on the recall measures for the remaining 99,000 targeted vehicles.
However, despite the start of the company’s long-awaited recall initiatives, controversy still remains in the discrepancy of consumer compensation between US and Korean car owners.
The automaker announced last year that the US Government approved its $14.7 billion settlement deal that would allow the scandal’s 475,000 US consumers to receive compensation payouts of up to $10,000 each.
In Korea, however, Volkswagen has only announced plans to launch its total recall of vehicles affected by emissions fraud and compensate local consumers with a 1 million won ($847) “car repair coupon.”
Last year Audi Volkswagen Korea stated to the press that Korea has a different set of penalty laws and regulations and reiterated the company having no plans to compensate consumers here.
Roughly 4,500 Koreans have filed civil lawsuits against the Ministry of Environment totaling 152 billion won.
By Julie Jackson/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org