The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), South Korea’s antitrust regulator, will impose a KRW20.2bn (USD16.9m) fine on Mercedes-Benz [DAI:GR] and its local subsidiaries for fabricating gas emission data of diesel passenger vehicles, as reported by Reuters on February 7. To manipulate emission data during certification testing, the German carmaker inserted unlawful software in 15 of its vehicles. Mercedes falsely advertised that its car emissions from August 2013 to December 2016 fulfilled European Union’s Euro 6 emission standards, according to the KFTC.
In 2020, the South Korean environment authority revoked Mercedes’ certifications for 37,154 diesel cars and imposed a fine of KRW77.8bn (USD65m) as the carmaker fabricated emission data for cars sold in South Korea between 2012 and 2018. Notably, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, South Korea imported 276,146 passenger vehicles in 2021, up 0.5% YoY, and Mercedes placed top in the country in terms of vehicle imports for the second year in a row, selling 76,152 units. Furthermore, for similar emission manipulation incidents, the KFTC has levied fines on Volkswagen [VOW:GR], Nissan Motor [7201:JP], Stellantis [STLA:FP], and other automobile manufacturers. In addition to penalties from South Korea, Mercedes also received a fine of EUR870m (USD994m) for exceeding diesel pollution standards from Germany in 2019. The company agreed to pay USD1.5bn in 2020 for excessive emissions from its diesel automobiles.