SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Korea Bizwire) — Despite massive recalls of Takata airbags that have been labeled as ‘dangerous’ in other countries, a number of foreign automobile manufacturers are refusing the South Korean government’s request to follow suit.
According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Tuesday, 14 out of 17 car manufacturers in South Korea that have used the faulty airbags recalled some of their vehicles.
Internationally, the controversial Takata airbags have resulted in the death of 19 people and injuries to over 200 people thus far, earning the unfortunate nickname of ‘Death Airbag’, with over 100 million vehicles having been recalled since 2013.
However, Mercedes-Benz and GM Korea are among those that have refused the request from the transport ministry to recall the vehicles with faulty airbags.
With the foreign carmakers refusing to take action, consumer advocacy groups are pointing to a stark contrast with China, where vehicles with the controversial airbags have been recalled.
In the midst of criticism is Mercedes-Benz, which sold a record high of over 58,000 vehicles between January and October in the South Korean market.
While the company says airbag-related accidents haven’t been reported in South Korea and that it is waiting for an inspection to be completed at its research center in Germany, a clear difference in the car manufacturer’s approach to the same issue in China is adding fuel to the fire.
Last month, Mercedes-Benz issued a massive recall of up to 350,000 vehicles in the Chinese market that affected owners of Mercedes-Benz SLK-series and A-Class cars produced between 2006 and 2012, models which are also on sale in South Korea.
South Korean consumers have expressed frustration in the wake of the news.
One customer said, “Mercedes-Benz is discriminating against South Korean consumers even over an issue of safety.”
Another said, “They don’t seem to care as their cars seem to be selling well regardless of recalls.”
Against this backdrop, the Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty held a press conference last month calling on foreign car manufacturers to recall the vehicles in question for the safety of their customers.
“We are closely monitoring the situation, including the decision of Mercedes-Benz to recall its vehicles in China,” an official at the transport ministry said, while acknowledging that more serious measures are under consideration.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)