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South Korea, California widen VW recalls

Officials in South Korea and California have called on Volkswagen to recall thousands of cars over faked emissions results. Seoul also fined the German carmaker more than $12 million.

The South Korean government said Thursday it had told Volkswagen to recall 125,500 diesel vehicles. The move came after tests confirmed the cars were using software to produce incorrect emissions results.

The South Korean Environment Ministry said it was fining Volkswagen 14.1 billion won ($12.3 million, 11.6 million euros). The ministry also told the German carmaker to file plans on how the affected cars would be fixed by January 6.

Meanwhile, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) said Wednesday that it had told the Volkswagen Group of America to organize recalls and software repairs of vehicles fitted with larger diesel motors.

There was no immediate comment by the VW group on the CARB order. Audi, however, in an emailed statement said it took the matter very seriously.

Based in Germany, VW has been engulfed by a widening scandal over emissions-cheating software since September when it admitted that manipulative software was present in more than 11 million vehicles worldwide equipped with smaller 2.0-liter diesel engines.

CARB on its website said the required fixes were the "result of an admission by officials at Audi, the manufacturer of the engines involved, that the large motors contained "three auxiliary emissions control devices."

The Californian agency said all three brands - Audi, Porsche and VW - had "independently certified their products" and were therefore "individually responsible" for their violations and future recalls.

CARB said its list spanned VW's Touareg, the Porsche Cayenne and a variety of Audi luxury models, including the Audi Q7,

Excessive nitrogen oxide

So-called "defeat device" software limits emissions when the vehicle undergoes statutory tests, disguising excessive amounts of the exhaust gas nitrogen oxide under normal driving conditions.

On November 3, VW subsequently conceded that it had also understated carbon dioxide emissions, including those for gasoline (petrol) engines, for up to 800,000 vehicles.

In Germany, environmental protection groups accused authorities, including the German Transport Ministry, of long tolerating misconstrued listings of nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and fine particle emissions to the detriment of people such as asthma sufferers as well as the environemnt.

Focus shifts to CO2 and Paris summit

The admission on CO2 also widens the focus of the scandal toward a UN climate summit starting next week in Paris.

Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun and are blamed for manmade climate change. Cars in Europe are often taxed according to their CO2 emissions.

Early in November, German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said all current models sold under the VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat brands - with both diesel and gasoline engines - would be tested for carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions.

ipj/sms (AFP, AP, dpa)

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