Prosecutors confiscate hundreds of Volkswagens, Audis

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Prosecutors confiscate hundreds of Volkswagens, Audis

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said it confiscated more than 950 Audis and Volkswagens from the Audi Volkswagen Korea’s pre-delivery inspection center in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi.

The 956 confiscated cars - 292 Audi A1 models, 314 Audi A3 models and 350 Volkswagen Golfs - must meet Euro 6 emissions standards set by the European Union, which imposes stricter restrictions on harmful car exhaust emissions, such as nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter. The prosecutors’ office, also investigating the emission-rigging scandal of Volkswagen, however, suspected that the cars didn’t meet the stronger standards.

“The cars were imported between July 2015 and February 2016 and were waiting to be released in Pyeongtaek,” said a prosecutor.

“Among all the countries, Korea must be the only country where Euro 6 compliant cars were found problematic.”

All imported cars must be tested to see if their emissions meet the country’s permissible level and receive approval from the Ministry of Environment. Prosecutors said Audi A1 and A3 skipped the process.

“This is a violation of Clean Air Conservation Act,” the prosecutor said.

Although the Golf passed the emission certificate procedures, prosecutors said their exhaust emission exceeded the Euro 6’s limit. In a road test conducted in March, the exhaust pipes of the model’s sample cars were cracked, and emission gases leaked, prosecutors said. The defect could influence nitrogen oxygen emissions. The prosecution isn’t ruling out the possibility that the automobile company manufactured cars with defected pipes.

The prosecution has been investigating Volkswagen since February 2015. In September 2015, Volkswagen was found to have installed a “defeat device” in its vehicles to cheat on laboratory tests of nitrogen oxide emissions levels.

Although the company had acknowledged that it installed programs that forged the emission levels in Euro 5 compliant cars, it said there were no problems with Euro 6 compliant ones.

“We’ll be not only investigating on the exhaustion pipe but also on possible manipulations over the software programs,” said the prosecutor.

“If the charges are proven, the 950 cars will be either forfeited or taken out of the country.”

The A1 and the Golf carry price tags of 30 million won ($25,167) , while the A3 costs about 55 million won.


BY JANG HYUK-JIN, SHIN SOO-YEON [shin.sooyeon@joongang.co.kr]





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