[THE INVESTOR] Audi’s emissions-rigging scandal flared up again on June 23 after the Korean government said it has launched a probe to determine if it cheated on emissions test for its high-end A7 and A8 models.
The Ministry of Environment said the A8 sedans and A7 four-door coupe diesel models -- with Euro 5 emissions standards -- emit about twice the legal limit of nitrogen oxides when steering wheel is turned more than 15 degrees. A total of 3,660 units imported from Germany were sold in Korea from 2012 to 2014.
The ministry has requested the German headquarters to supply technological documents for verification. Following the probe, the ministry is planning to order a recall of affected vehicles in the country.
On June 1, German authorities ordered Audi to recall the affected vehicles, claiming the automaker installed the same type of defeat software -- used by Volkswagen -- to evade rules. A total of 29,100 A7 and A8 cars that were produced between 2009 and 2013 were sold globally, and around half of them were sold in Germany.
Audi Korea, however, said the affected cars have mechanical problems, denying intentional cheating.
“We are awaiting results of the ministry’s probe on the vehicles,” a PR representative of Audi Korea told The Investor “The German headquarters is working with the Korean government to supply related information. Following the government’s decision, we will decide what to do.”
The latest revelation is a blow to the Korean unit that is still reeling from the Volkswagen diesel scandal that basically stopped its operations in the country.
The ministry last year revoked certification and halted sales of 80 models of Audi, VW and Bentley vehicles, in addition to imposing hefty fines on the automaker for manipulating emissions and noise level test to win sales approval.
Audi has been gearing up to resume sales in Korea. It applied for recertification of three Audi models -- S3, RS7 and A8L -- at the Environment Ministry. The local unit said it is still awaiting approval.
Audi’s new car A7 55 TI Quattro has already cleared emissions and noise level certification by the ministry earlier this year as well. But the exact comeback date is still undecided, according to Audi Korea.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)