Some 1,500 Audi and Volkswagen vehicles that been in storage for more than a year amid the emissions-rigging scandal have been shipped back to the automaker’s German headquarters, industry sources said on March 20.
The cars, which include diesel models of Audi A1, A3 and Volkswagen Golf, left the carmaker’s pre-delivery inspection center in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, on the evening of March 17 for Germany. The vehicles are expected to arrive at the Emden Port after a month.
The diesel cars were exported from Germany more than a year ago waiting to be delivered to the country’s showrooms, until the sales of most Audi, VW cars were halted after the automaker cheated on emissions test result.
According to officials at the prosecution, the German automaker brought the cars to Korea despite being aware that their emissions level exceeded the legal limit.
It is the first time for the Korean unit to send the cars back to Germany since the scandal.
There are still some 20,000 affected vehicles parked in Pyeongtaek, waiting to be shipped back to Germany or sell in the market at discounted prices once the recertification process is cleared.
“We cannot comment on what the German headquarters will do with the cars that are being shipped back,” an official from Audi Volkswagen Korea was quoted as saying in the report, adding nothing has been decided on the cars that are still parked in Pyeongtaek.
The Seoul Central Prosecution Office on January wrapped up a yearlong probe into the German automaker’s emissions cheating scandal in Korea. The authorities indicted seven current and incumbent employees of the Korean unit, including Johannes Thammer, CEO of Audi Volkswagen Korea, and his predecessors Trevor Hill and Park Dong-hoon -- who now heads Renault Samsung Motors -- for fabricating test results to win sales approval in the country.
Separately, the Ministry of Environment on Jan. 12 approved VW’s stalled recall plan to fix 27,000 Tiguan sport utility vehicles to meet the emissions standards, after previously rejecting the proposals three times.
The Tiguan vehicles are among the 125,522 cars the Korean government ordered VW to recall in November 2015 after it admitted to manipulating emissions devices globally. The ministry will review the remaining 99,000 vehicles for a recall.
By Ahn Sung-mi (email@example.com