VW will apologize to Korean buyers

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VW will apologize to Korean buyers

Volkswagen Korea will apologize to local consumers for the emissions-rigging scandal.

After the automaker’s alleged attempt was revealed by the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States on Sept. 19, Volkswagen Group’s former CEO Martin Winterkorn apologized to consumers, but this is the first time the local unit will offer an official statement to Korean consumers under the name of Seoul office CEO Thomas Kuehl.

Volkswagen Korea said Wednesday that it will send a letter of apology on Thursday to its 92,247 customers who own cars equipped with the EA 189 diesel engine suspected of having been manipulated, adding that the letter promises owners that their cars will be refitted.

Volkswagen car owners will likely receive a letter as early as next week, the company said.

“The letter offers an apology regarding the scandal that disappointed Korean consumers,” said a spokesman of Volkswagen Korea.

“We are working on wording promising the company’s voluntary recall. The completed statement will first be posted on our website either today or tomorrow, and a hard copy of the letter will be sent via mail to customers.”

The company said it couldn’t decide on the specific schedule for a recall since it still needs to be approved by the Ministry of Environment, though it said the recall will be voluntary. The company added that it might recall manipulated cars in January since the headquarters in Germany announced it will recall rigged cars globally, but the final decision will be made after the Environment Ministry’s inspection report is made in November.

Some are questioning whether a recall will actually fix the problem because there is a possibility that customers might not respond to the measure. Removing the rigged software will make the emissions reduction device operate properly, which will degrade the cars’ overall performances, including fuel efficiency.

Critics are saying it’s too late for the company to offer an apology, since the scandal occurred over three weeks ago.

The company has disagreed with the criticism, saying it has only been a week since the country’s Environment Ministry announced that there are problems with the cars sold in Korea.

Along with Volkswagen, Audi Korea will also offer an apology for the first time to 28,791 customers who also own cars suspected of cheating during emissions tests.

Unlike Volkswagen, however, the company said it hasn’t decided whether it will send out individual apologies or post it online.

BY KWON SANG-SOO [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]
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