South Korea suspends sale of 80 Volkswagen models in widening probe

  Volkswagen cars are parked at a dealership in Seoul, South Korea.
Volkswagen cars are parked at a dealership in Seoul, South Korea.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea on Tuesday (Aug 2) said it was suspending sales of 80 Volkswagen models, in a widening probe over the German carmaker's emission-cheating scandal.

The ministry said most of the models had been showcased for sale until recently, and added that the problem vehicles had fabricated documents for emissions and noise-level tests.

"As of August 2, we have revoked the certification of 83,000 vehicles of 80 models," the environment ministry said in a statement.

Last month, South Korean prosecutors arrested an executive of Volkswagen's South Korean unit as part of their investigations.

The world's second-largest automaker faces legal action in several countries, after it admitted to faking US emissions tests on some of its diesel-engined vehicles.

In November last year, Seoul ordered Volkswagen Korea to recall more than 125,000 diesel-powered cars sold in South Korean and fined the firm 14.1 billion won (S$17 million).

Foreign carmakers, especially German brands like Volkswagen, have steadily expanded their presence in the South's auto market long dominated by the local giant Hyundai and its affiliate Kia.

Sales of foreign cars account for about 15 per cent of total auto sales, compared to 10 per cent in 2012.

Around 70 per cent of foreign auto sales in South Korea are diesel-engined vehicles.