South Korea Bans 80 Volkswagen Models, Fines Company $16 Million

South Korea fined German automaker Volkswagen $16 million and banned it from selling 80 different models of cars on Tuesday, saying the company fabricated emissions and noise-level tests.

The decision announced by the environmental ministry is the latest blow to Volkswagen, which for the past year has been dealing with the revelation it fitted vehicles with devices to cheat on emissions tests.

Last November, South Korea fined Volkswagen $12.7 million and stripped certifications for more than 125,000 diesel-powered vehicles.

On Tuesday, it added another 83,000 vehicles to that list along with the new fine.  The affected cars include those sold under the Volkswagen, Audi and Bentley brands.

Environmental ministry official Hong Dong-gon told reporters that if Volkswagen applies again to get its cars certified, it will face a tougher review process.

«Rather than just going through the papers, we will conduct a thorough review which will include on-side inspections and visiting the German headquarters if necessary,» he said.

The company apologized and said resolving the matter quickly is a top priority.

Volkswagen has operated in South Korea since 2007.  Its much bigger market in the United States has brought larger consequences from the emissions cheating scandal, including a nearly $15 billion settlement in June to resolve legal claims by Volkswagen owners.

Volkswagen marketed its diesel engine cars as being both more fuel efficient and better performing than those with regular gasoline engines.  But 11 million cars were fitted with the devices that switched on anti-pollution controls during tests, but shut off during normal driving, allowing more pollutants into the air.