South Korea has ordered the recall of 125,522 Volkswagen cars after revealing that its own testing showed that the carmaker deliberately manipulated a diesel emissions device in vehicles with an older engine.
South Korea is the first country after the United States to announce measures based on it own testing to address the diesel emissions scandal that has engulfed Europe’s biggest auto manufacturer.
It came after regulators in California ordered Volkswagen on Wednesday to recall around 16,000 diesel vehicles.
The California Air Resources Board said it had told Volkswagen Group of America to recall all VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles equipped with 3.0-litre diesel engines in the model years 2009-2015 that were sold in California.
In September, Volkswagen admitted that it installed software in up to 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide that vastly understated their actual emissions of smog-causing nitrogen oxides.
South Korea’s environment ministry said on Thursday that it ordered Volkswagen Korea to submit a recall plan by 6 January 2016, and also fined the unit 14.1bn won ($12.31 million).
Cars to be recalled are Euro 5 engine vehicles with 2,000cc and 1,600cc diesel “EA189” engines, mainly sold in South Korea between 2008 and 2015. They include the popular Tiguan model, the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said it had not yet determined whether VW vehicles with the newer “EA288” engine – mainly Euro 6 models – had manipulated emissions, and could announce results after it completed testing the diesel models of 16 manufacturers by April.
A Volkswagen Korea spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.
Sales of diesel-powered German imports have been gaining share in recent years in a South Korean market long dominated by home-grown players led by Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors.
However, the market share of imported vehicles fell from 15.7% in September to 12.34% in October, the lowest percentage since July 2013. Volkwagen sales fell from 2,901 registered vehicles in September to just 947 in October, according to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association, a trade group.
Among imported brands, Volkswagen’s share fell from 14.2% in September to 5.4% in October.
The Korean move came as a federal court in Australia said that it expected VW to cooperate with courts in Australia so a class action over the emissions scam could proceed.