A series of illegal acts have been found since the beginning of the prosecution’s investigation into Volkswagen under the suspicion of emissions manipulation. The misconducts include the import of 600 or so vehicles without authorization as well as vehicle performance manipulation.
Volkswagen has deceived the Ministry of Environment of South Korea since 2010 by tampering with dozens of fuel efficiency and exhaust emissions test reports. In addition, the public prosecutor’s office recently found that the headquarters of the company in Germany has been involved in the emissions manipulation. The Golf 1.4 TSI, which is a gasoline vehicle, failed to pass the exhaust emissions test of the National Institute of Environmental Research in May 2014. Then, Volkswagen tampered with the software of the car for a smaller amount emissions, passed that test in November of the same year, and has sold 1,567 units of the model in South Korea since March last year. Such a change in software is illegal as well as fraudulent against local consumers. It is beyond understanding how such an immoral company has enjoyed a worldwide reputation.
In particular, since the scandal broke out in the United States in September last year, the Ministry of Environment has had to turn down its insincere, two-line recall plan three times and Volkswagen has yet to carry out a recall. On the contrary, the automaker has shown a nimble response in Europe and the United States, coming up with various recall and compensatory measures.
Such an illegality and arrogance shown by the German automaker must be coming out from its looking down upon both the government and people of South Korea. Back in 2011, as an example, the company ignored the Ministry of Environment’s recall order after its tampered exhaust gas recirculation devices were found to emit a large amount of nitrogen oxide. At that time, South Korean automakers subject to the same recall order replaced all the components in question whereas Volkswagen did not even submit documents requested by the ministry, claiming that it was not compulsory.
The number of Volkswagen diesel vehicles sold in South Korea amounts to 125,000 or so. Volkswagen models are still in the list of best sellers among imported cars partly due to its unprecedentedly aggressive sales promotions even while conducting immoral and illegal activities.
Such misconducts of Volkswagen constitute a criminal case, rather than a purely environmental problem resulting from exhaust gas emissions, in which law has been intentionally violated and consumers have been cheated on. The South Korean government will have to suspend the sale of Volkswagen vehicles and impose criminal penalties upon those involved. The prosecution and the environmental authorities must take stern actions against the German automaker until it fully compensates for consumers’ losses.