Germany's Volkswagen Group today announced recall of 3,23,700 vehicles across its three brands -- Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen -- in India after a government-ordered probe found it using diesel engines equipped with a defeat device which help cheat emission tests.
Announcing "a voluntary recall for updating all cars with EA189 engines in the Indian market", the company said the recall will cover cars sold from 2008 till end of November 2015 in India.
The recall will encompass cars from the Volkswagen, Audi and SKODA model range which carry the software that requires to be updated, it added.
"As per the records of Volkswagen Group India, from 2008 till end of November 2015, approximately 1,98,500 cars from Volkswagen, 88,700 cars from KODA and 36,500 cars from Audi across various models sold in India have been equipped with the EA 189 engines which include 1.2-litre, 1.5-litre, 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel engines," Volkswagen India said in a statement.
The recall comes after the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) found that diesel cars manufactured in India by Volkswagen having EA189 engine were fitted with the "defeat device", which may lead to excess nitrogen oxide emission levels in on-road vehicles.
Elaborating on the steps it planned to take, Volkswagen Group India said it has presented its observations, findings and outlines of possible solutions on the EA 189 diesel engines to the Government of India Ministry of Heavy Industries and ARAI.
The group will first present "the technical released solution to Ministry of Heavy Industries and ARAI. Once approved from the competent authorities, the respective brands of the Volkswagen Group in India will carry out necessary actions in a step-wise manner", it said.
VW has already admitted that 11 million diesel engine cars worldwide were fitted with the software that helped in manipulating emission tests. It faces fine of up to USD 18 billion in the US. Earlier the company had announced vehicle recalls in other countries, including China.
"The existing installed software does not affect the handling, technical safety or road worthiness of the cars," it added.
A meeting was held between the company executives and officials of the Department of Heavy Industries today after the submission of report by apex automotive testing agency ARAI, which was asked by the government to probe any violation of norms by the company.
Government officials declined to comment on actions against the company or quantum of penalties. Earlier Additional Secretary in heavy Industries Ministry Ambuj Sharma had said that if proved of any wrongdoing in India Volkswagen may have to face criminal proceedings and fine besides the recall of vehicles.
Volkswagen Group India said all the owners of vehicles with EA 189 engines will be informed by it through the respective brands about the technical measures that will be implemented in their cars.
"All necessary technical measures will be implemented in the vehicles at no cost to the customers," it added.
Automobile manufacturers have been recalling vehicles on safety issues since industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) initiated a voluntary policy in July 2012.
Till now over 13.25 lakh vehicles have been recalled by various manufacturers in India so far.