BEIJING (Reuters) -- China's quality watchdog said today it was "highly concerned" about manipulated software in Volkswagen Group's diesel cars designed to trick emissions tests and would take appropriate follow-up measures.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) did not specify what action it would take beyond demanding that the problem be addressed as soon as possible. In a separate statement, the environment ministry also said it would launch an investigation into VW vehicles, without giving details.
China is the world's largest auto market, and even though few diesel passenger cars are sold there, analysts said the scandal may impact the purchasing decisions of Chinese consumers.
"I have so far seen little impact on consumers' confidence and trust in the VW brand [in China], but we need to continue to monitor that," said Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consulting firm Automotive Foresight.
"Their sales are already weak this year thanks to the slowdown in China's general economy. If VW sales took a further beating from the current emissions scandal, that would further complicate their position globally following the scandal," he added.
AQSIQ said Volkswagen would recall 1,950 imported cars in China, predominantly imported Tiguan SUVs, with the software that gives misleading emissions results in laboratory tests.
Volkswagen set aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.4 billion) in the third quarter to cover servicing and marketing outlays related to the scandal, which could contribute to an annual loss for the VW brand this year.
Volkswagen's two Chinese joint ventures, Shanghai Volkswagen and FAW-Volkswagen, said last month that the software that cheats emissions tests does not affect their locally built vehicles.
VW Group China sales fell 5.6 percent to 2.26 million in the first eight months, the automaker said last month.
Automotive News Europe contributed to this report