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Following the opening of an investigation into Volkswagen’s use of a defeat device to fool emissions tests for the firm’s vehicles, the government of South Korea has decided to expand that investigation to include essentially all foreign car brands, according to recent reports. The South Korean government previously decided to fine Volkswagen for its diesel vehicle emissions testing fraud. Following the recent decision to impose fines, the country’s government is now looking into previous emissions and noise-level testing results to see if everything is actually in order, or if the fraud has been more widespread. The new investigation goes far beyond Volkswagen, though. It includes 23 different auto manufacturers and will be focused on 110 different diesel vehicle models, according to a director at ministry by the name of Hong Dong Kon. Bloomberg provides more: “Automakers and component suppliers worldwide are facing increased scrutiny following a spate of scandals at companies including Takata Corporation, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, and Suzuki Motor Corporation. Earlier this month, South Korea blocked sales of 80 VW models and fined the company 17.8 billion won ($16 million) because the carmaker fabricated documents related to emissions and noise-level tests.” Continuing: “Imported cars accounted for about 15% of the market in South Korea as of June, and the most popular choices include diesel models made by VW, BMW AG, and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz. The Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association hasn’t received details of the investigation, the group said. A spokesman for Mercedes-Benz Korea said the automaker hasn’t received a notice from the environment ministry but would cooperate with the investigation if there’s a request. Calls to BMW Korea’s spokesman weren’t answered.” Notably, Volkswagen is still unable to sell in the country, and may not be able to for some time, as it may take longer than the “typical 3 months” to regain certification owing to the need for “thorough” inspections, according to the ministry. The results of the new investigation are expected to be announced within 3 months. South Korea Planning To Push For Retirement Of Old Diesel Vehicles   Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.   James Ayre 's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

Mazda expands a recall of faulty passenger air bags that inflate with too much force and eject metal fragments into the vehicle. This is after federal regulators ordered the recall of all vehicles with Takata air bags. The new recall affects around 374,519 vehicles linked to potentially defective front passenger-side air bags made by Takata Corporation. The Japanese automobile maker said the latest recall was prompted after Takata Corp. said that additional air bag inflators could be prone to ruptures. "In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the passenger's frontal air bag, the inflator could rupture with metal fragments striking the vehicle occupants potentially resulting in serious injury or death," says the letter of acknowledgement (PDF) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Takata Corp. faces more than $70 million in fines for supplying defective air bags to at least 12 car companies covering 19 million vehicles. This is one of the largest recalls in the history of the U.S. automotive industry. Upon investigation, the root cause was identified as the air bag inflator, a metal cartridge loaded with propellant wafers. During a crash, the inflator housing ruptures and metal shards could spew throughout the passenger cabin. A supposedly life-saving device was linked to nine deaths and more than 100 injuries in the United States. Automakers and independent investigators established causes of why these air bags became defective. Some causes identified were poor quality control in manufacture, design of the car itself, and several years of exposure in high heat and humidity. According to NHTSA, the latest recall of Mazda vehicles covers model year 2003-2008 of Mazda 6, model year 2006-2007 of MazdaSpeed 6 and the 2004 RX-8. Mazda 6 2003-2008 vehicles were manufactured from May 29, 2002 to May 5, 2008. While Mazdaspeed 6 vehicles were manufactured from July 1, 2005 to June 29, 2007. The limited edition of model year 2004 RX-8 was manufactured from June 25 to 30, 2003. The inflators of the front passenger air bags are vulnerable to rupture during a crash. In the event of a vehicle crash, the inflator could be ruptured with metal fragments spewing the vehicle passengers. This may lead to serious injury and even death. Mazda will notify owners, while dealers will handle the free replacement of front passenger air bags with new ones. If owners have the mentioned models, they may call Mazda's customer service at 1-800-222-5500 or the NHTSA vehicle safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236.

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