August 23, 2022


South Korea Fines Mercedes $16.9M over Emissions Breach

Last February, German carmaker Mercedes-Benz became a hot topic in South Korea as the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) revealed that the company equipped their vehicles with illegal software and, therefore, violated emissions rules. 

With the software installed, all 15 vehicles had lower performance levels when driven in real-world road conditions than when in the lab for certification testing. Authorities found Mercedes’ actions deceptive as the carmaker falsely advertised their vehicles’ emissions reduction performance. This, according to KFTC, prevents customers from making rational choices for their purchases. 

Additionally, Mercedes-Benz also falsely declared that their vehicles fulfilled vehicle emission limits and that between the months of August 2013 and December 2016, they followed Euro 6 emission standards. 

The action on Mercedes comes after Stellantis Korea, Audi-VW Korea, Porsche AG, and Nissan had to adhere to corrective actions and fines after they were alleged to have installed emissions cheat devices similar to the one found in the German carmakers’ vehicles.

Cheating on emissions tests has long been a major issue in the global automotive industry. It all started with the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal in 2015.

What was the Dieselgate scandal about?

Volkswagen, a German carmaker like Mercedes, received a notice from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board after the said authorities discovered defeat devices on over 600,000 Audi and VW diesel vehicles that were sold in the American automotive market. Around 85,000 of the said vehicles were sold to customers in California.

A defeat device is designed to detect when a vehicle is in the lab for emissions testing. Once the testing starts, the device automatically and artificially reduces emissions levels so these would stay within the limits set by the World Health Organization. 

However, when the vehicle is taken out and driven in real-world road conditions, it emits excessive levels of nitrogen oxide or NOx, often in volumes that are multiple times over the EU and WHO limits. The vehicle is, therefore, a heavy pollutant.

The diesel emissions scandal initially involved only VW but it soon spread to eventually include Mercedes-Benz and other carmakers, including Alfa Romeo, Renault, Citroën, BMW, Nissan, Peugeot, and Jeep, among others.

Why are vehicles with defeat devices heavy pollutants?

Mercedes-Benz vehicles, and other diesel vehicles, that are equipped with defeat devices are heavy pollutants because they emit a gas known as nitrogen oxide or NOx. 

Nitrogen oxide has nitric oxide or NO and nitrogen dioxide or NO2 as its major components. It is responsible for the formation of smog and acid rain. When it reacts with other compounds and elements, it produces ground-level ozone, which has a negative impact on vegetation, stunting and even stopping plant growth.

Exposure to nitrogen oxide is also dangerous to human health. Its effects include :

  • For low-level exposure, the common health impacts are headaches, difficulty in breathing, corroded teeth, asthma (or aggravated asthma for those who already have it), loss of appetite, eye irritation, and other respiratory issues (such as bronchitis and emphysema).
  • For high-level NOx exposure, health impacts include chronic reduction of lung function, laryngospasm, and asphyxiation. Individuals can also become more susceptible to certain illnesses or diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular issues.
  • In certain cases, constant exposure to high levels of nitrogen oxides can lead to premature death. Such was the case of nine-year-old Londoner Ella Kissi-Debrah who died after a severe asthma attack. She and her mother, Rosamund, lived near South Circular Road, which is a highly polluted area. In December 2020, after an inquest, the coroner declared her death as officially caused by air pollution – the first case of its kind in the UK.

NOx emissions are the main reasons why car owners affected by the defeat devices are encouraged to bring their car manufacturers to legal action through an emissions claim. If the claim is successful, car owners can receive compensation (often in thousands) for the environmental, health, and financial inconvenience the scandal has caused them.

Filing a Mercedes emissions claim is the best thing to do to hold your manufacturer responsible for their deceitful actions and lies. 

How to file your Mercedes emissions claim

Going through an emission claim process is not easy. It is often challenging and may take time. However, working with a panel of emissions solicitors can help make things a little bit easier. They’ll guide you through the process, help you with the legal requirements, and increase your chances of winning your claim.

Before starting your Mercedes diesel claim, though, you’ll have to verify if you are eligible for the claim. Get in touch with the team at right away so you can start processing your emissions claim.

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