South Korea to fine Mercedes, Stellantis for manipulating emissions data

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SEOUL, Nov. 4 (UPI) — South Korea’s Ministry of Environment said it will fine Mercedes-Benz Korea and Stellantis Korea for manipulating emissions data.

The ministry said Wednesday it would fine Mercedes-Benz $3.6 million and Stellantis $1 million and both automakers will be prosecuted.

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The ministry said Mercedes-Benz manipulated selective catalytic reduction systems so that diesel exhaust fluid is sprayed less. The fluid breaks down nitrogen oxides and reduces emissions.

Stellantis is accused of using software programs that make an exhaust gas recirculation valve work during the tests so that emissions would meet regulatory standards.

The EGR valve redirects some exhaust gases from the engine back into the air to reduce exhaust emissions. But the device tends to decrease the operating and fuel capacity for the vehicle.

The software allegedly prevented the EGR valve from working properly on the road, resulting in the diesel cars failing to meet South Korean standards in real-world driving situations.

The rigging affected 2,508 Mercedes-Benz vehicles and 2,246 Stellantis vehicles sold in South Korea, the ministry said.

The two companies will be prohibited from selling the six diesel models in South Korea and are required to recall all the vehicles. They also have to come up with the recall plan within 45 days.

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This is not the first time that the two automakers have faced punishment for fabricating emissions data, as 12 Mercedes-Benz models were caught for doing so between 2018 and 2020, and two Stellantis models in 2018.

Separately, Mercedes-Benz Korea was ordered to recall 17 Maybach models Thursday due to potential airbag flaws and other issues. The measure will affect more than 32,000 vehicles.

A Mercedes-Benz Korea representative said by telephone that the firm would cooperate with the government to minimize the inconvenience for customers. Stellantis Korea representatives were not available for comment.

Last month, South Korea anti-trust watchdog said it would require Nissan and Porsche to correct inaccurate gas emission totals for their diesel vehicles.