Foreign Automakers Added to South Korea Diesel Emissions Probe

South Korea is expanding its diesel emissions investigation far beyond Volkswagen, according to a government agency.

The nation’s environment ministry started a probe last week of 23 foreign automakers with 110 diesel models sold in that market, said Hong Dong Kon, a director at the ministry. The investigation findings will be released in two-to-three months, he told Automotive News.

In early August, the government blocked sales of 80 Volkswagen Group models. The German automaker was fined 17.8 billion won ($16 million) for allegedly fabricating documents related to diesel vehicle emissions and noise-level tests. In late July, Volkswagen had suspended sales of its vehicles in South Korea until the environment ministry decision came through.

Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz are expected to feel the impact more than other automaker with their diesel models having been popular choices for car buyers. Imports made up about 15 percent of new vehicles sales in that market during June.

A Mercedes-Benz Korea spokesman said the automaker hasn’t received a notice from the government but would cooperate with the investigation if requested. BMW Korea didn’t respond to calls from Automotive News.

SEE ALSO: Volkswagen Suspending Sales in South Korea on Eve of Ministry Review

The South Korean government has taken an aggressive stance over the diesel emissions scandal. The environment ministry said that VW’s certification inspection to restart sales may take longer than the typical three months for that process to be completed.

Other foreign carmakers may follow VW, facing a sales suspension and fine. Trade deals with the government had helped foreign automakers do well in that market, but that may be put on hold.

Automotive News