Shipping the 13,000 vehicles back to Germany, rather than having them checked for compliance in Korea, ended speculation the automakers would hold a national “Dieselgate sale” offering huge discounts on models that received recertification.
Tiguan diesel earned clean bill of health from Korean authorities.
AudiKorea begins shipping back to Germany some 13,000 vehicles banned for sale in Korea since August in connection with the Dieselgate scandal.
The vehicles have been parked at the port of Pyongtaek for more than a year.
Last week 2,500 Audi and VW vehicles that never were delivered to dealers were shipped back to Germany. That followed an initial shipment of 1,500 units last month that included the Audi A1 and A3 and VW’s popular Golf models.
Shipping the 13,000 vehicles back to Germany, rather than having Korea authorities check them for compliance, ended speculation the automakers would hold a national “Dieselgate sale,” offering the vehicles with huge discounts once the models had received recertification.
Meanwhile, 9,000 vehicles never were offered for sale in Korea remain parked at Pyongtaek until they can be returned to Germany.
Sales of 125,000 VW and Audi models across 32 model lines have been suspended since the cars were alleged to have been rigged with emissions-cheating software.
The return of the vehicles already is under way.
A company spokesman says the models become more outdated the longer they sit. The decision to return the vehicles instead of waiting out the recertification process signals to some analysts it may take a long time before Audi and VW are able to sell the banned models in Korea once again.
Other analysts think the recertification process will move ahead fairly quickly. They believe both Audi and VW want to take the old models out of competition with the new ’17 and ’18 versions now being produced in Germany.
They note the Ministry of the Environment recertified three Bentley models at the beginning of April, only six weeks after recertification documents had been filed. The recertified models include the Flying Spur V8,GT V8, Continental GT Convertible and Bentayga SUV, with the Bentayga going on sale in dealerships next month.
Some progress has been made in plans to recall some of the 125,000 banned Audi and VW models. In January the Ministry approved a recall plan for two VW Tiguan models, which represent some 27,000 units out of the total Audi VW sales ban of 125,000 vehicles.
The status of the recall for the remaining 98,000 decertified units remains uncertain.
VW says the vehicles could be recertified with a software adjustment that, in the Tiguan’s case, takes less than an hour. But the government has rejected several recall plans submitted by the two automakers, and it is not clear if the latest pending plans will be accepted.
Some analysts note acceptance of the recall is going slowly because of the large number of units, the complexity of documents submitted and the need to re-evaluate each of the models to ensure the vehicles meet emissions standards.
An unexpected problem already has surfaced with the Tiguan recall: Owners are saying they will not send their vehicles to dealerships for software repairs they believe may lower power output and advertised fuel-economy ratings. Several are filing lawsuits to have the current recall plan overturned.
Some 5,000 Audi and VW owners also are suing the automakers for refunds of purchase prices or lease payments, and personal compensation for inconvenience.
As a public relations move the automakers are offering 1 million won ($885) service vouchers to all customers who bought an Audi or VW before Dec. 31, 2016. Until that time the companies had sold 270,000 total vehicles in South Korea.