SEJONG, March 11 (Korea Bizwire) – Mercedez-Benz Korea could face legal repercussions for selling vehicles fitted with a transmission different from the originally registered type without any notification.
Officials at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, said they are planning to file a suit against the company with the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The German luxury auto maker has already admitted that it sold S350s featuring a 9-speed transmission without reporting this to the authorities, when they only had permission to sell S350 models with a 7-speed transmission.
Under normal circumstances, Mercedes should have reported to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport after completing accreditation. In addition, a report detailing changes in fuel efficiency and emissions should have been submitted to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Ministry of Environment.
However, the company ended up breaking the Automobile Management Act and Clean Air Conservation Act when it bypassed the regulations.
A penalty of up to a year in jail or a fine as high as 10 million won can be imposed based on the Automobile Management Act when accreditation processes are violated.
“The upgrade to the transmission was carried out to improve the quality of our products at the stage of manufacturing and didn’t change consumer prices”, officials at Mercedes-Benz Korea explained. “It was too late when we found out during our internal monitoring process that vehicles with a different transmission were sold”, they said.
They added that the company had no intention of deceiving consumers, and were preparing to report the changes to the appropriate government organizations.
Under 100 of the modified S350 models were reported as having been sold. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport suspended sales of the S350 model on February 29.
Not unexpectedly, despite the procedural breach, the cars seem to be fine. “As the 9-speed transmission offers better fuel efficiency and lower emissions compared to the 7-speed transmission, and none of the customers were affected by the change, we will not take action for the vehicles already sold”, authorities said.
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)