By on August 2, 2016

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan

Consider it a low point in German-Korean relations.

Thanks to the diesel emissions scandal, South Korea just decertified about 68 percent of all Volkswagen, Bentley and Audi vehicles sold in that country over the past decade, Reuters reports. The country also revoked the certification of 80 model variants and leveled a large fine, meaning VW’s one-time Asian market breakthrough is truly busted.

The embattled automaker knew this was coming. In late July, it voluntarily pulled the plug on sales of certain diesel vehicles as it awaited a ruling from the country’s environmental ministry.

Besides the stop-sale order and decertification of 209,000 existing vehicles, VW now finds itself on the hook for $16.06 million in fines. The automaker plans to appeal the ruling, calling it “most severe.”

VW fought hard to scratch out a meager market share in the country over the past decade, and despite a steep sales slide in the wake of the scandal, it intends to fight to keep its customers. The automaker told its customers (via a letter on its webpage) that it might request an “injunction of execution.” There’s also a chance it could take the country’s government to court to salvage its reputation.

South Korean lawmakers anticipate a lengthy sales shutdown.

“It usually takes three months for vehicle certification, but this may take longer for Volkswagen, as we will take thorough steps,” environmental ministry director Hong Dong-gon told Reuters. The ministry warned that any delay in recalling the vehicles for an emissions fix would lead to further penalties. VW could be forced to swap existing vehicles for different models.

Volkswagen sales slid 33 percent in South Korea in the first half of the year, a harsh blow for a company that was so eager to foist its luxury models on the hot vehicle market. The scandal’s financial toll hit hard, with VW reporting a 12 percent drop in quarterly profits last week.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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19 Comments on “South Korea Suspends Sales, Decertifies Most of the Country’s Volkswagen Products...”

  • avatar

    “‘It usually takes three months for vehicle certification, but this may take longer for Volkswagen, as we will take thorough steps,’ environmental ministry director Hong Dong-gon told Reuters.”

    In other words, they’re going to slow-walk the process, especially if VW decides to appeal. Ouch.

  • avatar

    It sounds like VW owners are the ones getting hosed here. That doesn’t seem fair – it’s not like they knew VW was cheating.

    • 0 avatar

      Fair is in it’s entirety subjective. Rather than play silly, ambulance and apparatchik enriching/empowering blame games, preventing people who actually pollute from continuing to do so, is infinitely more effective and efficient.

      As a consumer, buy from those you trust. And as someone supposed to be grown men, live with the consequences of your choices. “Poor liiittle me didn’t knoow the half price Mercedes pretender was cheeatiiing” isn’t going to make the world of difference for some asthmatic. If you pollute, stop it. Otherwise, if you’re not, it ain’t no problem and who cares?

      • 0 avatar

        I didn’t realize you were in favor of a government with the power to essentially seize and make worthless the private property of its citizens. Duly noted.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m personally not in favor of such a government, nor any other kind, but as long as government does have the power to seize and ban, they could at a minimum have the decency to wield it rationally.

          If pollution is a problem that government has some sort of business trying to ameliorate, it should ban those that pollute from polluting. Not just take money from those less politically correct, and hand it to lawyers.

          Whether the polluter happens to be Al Gore, Barrack Obama or some Koch brother in their respective jets; a soot spewing school bus, ambulance or military MRAP; or just some dude out to roll some coal; is completely and utterly irrelevant and uninteresting from the POV of the lungs of some asthmatic. And ditto for anyone else supposedly harmed by pollution.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t believe the environmental apocalyptic hype, but if one says they do, then stopping pollution should be more important than protecting people that buy bad cars. Personally, I think Europe is the only place with enough diesels to kill people in meaningful numbers, so they’re the ones that need to take drastic action. They also got in this mess by believing that bureaucrats were smarter than markets. It doesn’t seem like they’re poised to learn a darned thing.

  • avatar

    It sounds like VW is being as dismissive of its Korean customers as it is of its American customers. “We may or may not do something, we’ll let you know. Check our webpage.” – click – 404 error.

  • avatar

    VW is not particularly popular there. Sort of an off kilter choice for the non-luxury but non-“home car” crowd. That’s very limited.

    However, Audi is doing much better with the A3/4.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Cry me a river of tears, Volkswagen.


  • avatar

    Only $16 million? A slap on the wrist compared to the EPA. I wonder if South Korean emission standards are more like the US or Europe, since by our standards they fail by more than the EU’s.

    Sounds to me like the ROKs are going to push for an American style buyback. Having set the precedent here, it’s hard to justify not extending it to other aggrieved countries.

  • avatar

    Show a set of balls Germany(Angela Merkel)Let Samsung, LG, Hyundai,and Kia realize that sanctions cut both ways.

    • 0 avatar

      Right. Teach those uppity untermenschen who’s boss! You will accept our dirty cheating cars! And you will like it!!

    • 0 avatar

      Um, VW deserves all it’s getting since they not only violated the law, but did nothing for Korean VW owners.

      And the German state of Bavaria stated that it will sue VW for damages caused by its emissions-test cheating scandal for losses to its state pension fund and Baden-Wuerttemberg has pondered taking legal action as well.

      So I guess Merkel should sanction BMW, MB and Porsche (how ironic to sanction VW by way of Porsche) as well.

  • avatar

    Aside from Chevy (which is seen as a domestic brand), VW was the best selling mainstream, import brand in Korea and with BMW, MB and Audi, really popularized diesels for the Korean market due to the superior mileage and the whole “clean” diesel thing.

    Now that it’s been shown that diesels aren’t clean (quite the opposite – sending pollutant particles into the air of cities already dealing with pollution issues – whether from within or coming from China), hybrids, PHEVs and EVs seem poised to finally see some traction (already Toyota hybrid sales are up significantly).

    Also, doesn’t help that US consumers get well compensated while Korean consumers (like the Europeans) are left holding the bag.

  • avatar

    Look at the level of surface detail (on this highly produced rendering of the new mid size SUV); perfectly formed. Just as VW group was on the cusp of a potential non stop assention to world domination, this scandal. How fortunate and convenient for South Korea based and other competing brands.

  • avatar

    Bavaria is the first federal state in Germany to take action against VW, as it seeks to recoup funds lost from the Bavarian pension fund.

  • avatar

    Just read that the EPA gave BMW diesels the green light. That’s gotta hurt.

  • avatar

    What about Hyundai/Kia’s Over inflated MPG claims. I actually have a relative that bought one of their cars (2012 Accent) and the MPG was horrendous for a 4 banger. How about we throw them out with the bathwater too?

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