220,000 cars recalled for emissions

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220,000 cars recalled for emissions

Korea’s top two automakers will recall nearly 220,000 vehicles starting today, the largest ever recall since the government began emissions inspections in 1992.

The Ministry of Environment said Thursday that the carmakers will recall their flagship sports utility vehicles - Hyundai’s Tucson and Kia’s Sportage - after the diesel versions of the vehicles failed to meet emission limits set by the government.

Hyundai will recall 79,618 Tucson 2.0 Diesels that the company manufactured from May 2014 to March 2015, while Kia will call back 138,748 Sportage 2.0 Diesels it produced from July 2012 to August 2015, according to an announcement by the Environment Ministry.

The two models, which were produced and sold in accordance with Euro 5 emissions standards related to light passenger and commercial vehicles, had emissions limits of 0.18 g/km for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 0.005 g/km for particulate matter, or PM, according to the European Union. However, inspections by the Environment Ministry from June 2016 to last January showed that the PM emissions by Kia Sportages exceeded the limit. Hyundai’s Tucson failed to meet four different criteria, including PM and NOx.

The ministry speculated in January that “deterioration of or control problems with diesel particulate filter and exhaust gas recirculation” may have caused the vehicles to emit more pollutants than allowed. The ministry confirmed Thursday that the SUVs failed to meet the emissions standards due to a defective electronic control unit that the carmakers failed to update properly.

Diesel particulate filters control emissions of particulates, limiting their release into the atmosphere. Reportedly, the control unit’s software was not upgraded when the carmakers changed the materials used in their filters in 2012, which eventually could do damage to the filters.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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