Exhaust scandal: Mercedes-Benz faces fines in South Korea

Mercedes-Benz is to pay a fine of 20.2 billion won (currently the equivalent of around 14.7 million euros) in South Korea for false information on emissions from diesel cars. South Korea’s competition authority accused the German automaker of having installed banned software in the vehicles to manipulate exhaust aftertreatment. The emission of nitrogen oxides should not have corresponded to the regulations. The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) called on Mercedes-Benz AG and Mercedes-Benz Korea to take corrective action.

Mercedes-Benz said it was cooperating with the authorities and had presented its views to them. Since the decision is not yet available in writing, one cannot comment further on it. According to the FTC, the manufacturer is said to have falsely advertised that the vehicles could reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 percent in accordance with the Euro 6 emissions standard. Mercedes-Benz advertised it between April 2012 and November 2018. 15 diesel models are affected.

The systems used for selective catalytic reduction (SCR) would have deteriorated significantly after 30 minutes of normal driving, it said. The cars would have emitted up to 14 times more nitrogen oxides than permitted by South Korean environmental regulations. The FTC dismissed the manufacturer’s claims that the ad claiming the 90 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions was just a common phrase used by industry and research.

Two years ago, South Korea’s Ministry of the Environment fined the car manufacturer, which was then still trading under the name Daimler, for installing banned software in diesel cars. At the time, the company announced that it would object to the decision. The procedure concerned vehicles with the Euro 6b emissions standard, the production of which was discontinued by mid-2018 at the latest.


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