Volkswagen emissions probe spreads to Asia

Sep 22, 2015, 4:04 AM EDT
The Volkswagen AG (VW) logo sits on a sign outside the VW Autoeuropa automobile manufacturing plant in Palmela, Portugal, on Tuesday, June 30, 2015.
AFP/Getty Images

The scandal engulfing Volkswagen AG, which has admitted cheating diesel vehicle emissions tests in the United States, spread east on Tuesday as South Korea said it would investigate three of the maker's diesel models, reports Reuters.

Volkswagen shares plunged by 19 percent on Monday after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Friday that the world's biggest carmaker by sales used software that deceived regulators measuring toxic emissions and could face penalties of up to $18 billion.

Media reports say the U.S. Department of Justice has started a criminal probe into the allegations, which cover several VW and Audi-branded diesel models including the Audi A3, VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat.

The South Korean probe will involve 4,000 to 5,000 Jetta, Golf and Audi A3 vehicles produced in 2014 and 2015, Park Pan-kyu, a deputy director at South Korea's environment ministry, told Reuters.

The ministry will consider recalling those vehicles after conducting the investigation, he said. "If South Korean authorities find problems in the VW diesel cars, the probe could be expanded to all German diesel cars," he said.

Volkswagen Korea declined to comment. German rivals Daimler and BMW have said the accusations against VW did not apply to them.