South Korea has said it will issue fines and file criminal complaints against Audi Volkswagen Korea and Porsche Korea for installing “illicit devices” that helped multiple diesel vehicles cheat pollution standards.
The environment ministry said on Tuesday that more than 10,000 vehicles sold in South Korea by the two car manufacturers from May 2015 to January 2018 were fitted with the devices, resulting in 10 times more nitrogen oxide emissions than standard levels.
The certifications for eight models – including the Audi A6, Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne – will be revoked and the manufacturers will face an estimated fine of 11.5bn won ($9.5m), the ministry said.
“We plan to continue responding firmly to manipulation of gas emissions in future,” a ministry official told reporters.
The announcement comes just weeks after former Audi Chief Executive Rupert Stadler was charged in Germany with fraud and illegal advertising amid Volkswagen’s deepening emissions scandal which broke four years ago.
The charges against Stadler are linked to more than 434,000 Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche cars fitted with “defeat devices” to fool regulators’ emissions tests.
Such software, applied to diesel-fuelled cars, allows the vehicles to detect when they are being tested in a lab and squeeze output of harmful gases, such as nitrogen oxides, far below actual levels released on the road.
A study, released in March 2017, said that pollution from 2.6 million rigged Volkswagen cars sold in Germany would likely cause 1,200 premature deaths in Europe because of the excess emissions. The study looked at cars sold in the country under the Volkswagen Group’s VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat brands.
In Germany, more than 410,000 of the group’s customers are demanding compensation, as are investors.