Comply with the recall

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Comply with the recall

After Volkswagen has notified the Ministry of Environment of a recall plan for its diesel vehicles in Korea, as many as 120,000 automobiles produced by the leading German carmaker are expected to be recalled soon. The recall based on the Euro 5 standard, targets Volkswagen’s diesel cars with 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter engines that have been imported to Korea since 2009. But the success of the recall will likely depend on the willingness of car owners to participate in the move, because it is conducted to reduce harmful emissions into the environment rather than repair defective parts or improve car performance.

Volkswagen called on car owners to turn off its emission reduction gadgets because of the declining performance and fuel efficiency when the gadgets are activated.

The company must come up with effective ways to compensate for the fuel losses when they are recalled, but no concrete guideline has yet been set.

Moreover, Volkswagen must recall more than 11 million diesel vehicles around the globe. Considering a massive cost of punitive damages as high as 100 trillion won ($84.5 billion) to address the crisis, it is unclear if proper compensations could be made to Korean customers.

The environment ministry plans to conduct emission tests on all diesel cars in Korea, including Hyundai Motor’s, starting December. Depending on the results, the recall could be extended to all types of diesel vehicles in Korea if they prove to show gaps between their certified amounts of emissions and real emissions. But the problem is that customers are obliged to comply with the recall without the assurance that their vehicles will be fixed.

As the Volkswagen fiasco has exposed unexpected problems with diesel engines, it is escalating into a so-called “dieselgate.” Domestic buyers of diesel vehicles now suffer additional damage from plunging prices of used diesel engine vehicles.

Given customers’ apparent resistance to the recall, car experts say authorities need to devise a clause for mandatory recalls for the public good. Immature local laws on environmental pollutions from cars also fuel confusion. In Korea, even if emission tests are rigged, penalties are not supposed to exceed 1 billion won, which makes it nearly impossible to compensate a myriad of car owners.

The government must enact relevant laws to effectively cope with environmental pollution from cars. At the same time, however, local diesel car owners should comply with the recall with a mature sense of citizenship for our cleaner environment.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 5, Page 34

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