The Environment Ministry on Wednesday fined German automaker Mercedes-Benz Korea for selling its S350D model without approval for transmission changes.
The government slapped the firm with a fine of 168 million won ($143,000), 1.5 percent of revenue from its sales of 98 S350D vehicles in January and February.
“According to the Clean Air Conservation Act, all automakers must manufacture and sell a model after the ministry approves its transmission specifications,” said the ministry in a statement.
Prior to the sale of the S350D model in Korea, the carmaker notified that the vehicles would be equipped with seven-speed transmission. But it installed nine-speed transmission instead, raising questions over whether the replacement was done intentionally.
However the automaker said in a phone call with The Korea Herald that it had not been intentional to install nine-speed transmission without notifying the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
“It was actually found out during our internal monitoring session. Then we reported our fault immediately.
“It was simply our mistake to forget to report and get an approval before sales from the ministry,” said an official from Mercedez-Benz Korea’s public relations agency Ketchum Korea.
The Environment ministry said it will soon begin verification tests of exhaust gases from vehicles that use seven-speed and nine-speed transmissions, to find out the difference between the two.
“Mercedes-Benz Korea has agreed to provide cars for the verification tests, and we will select vehicles that have a mileage of over 4,000 km to increase the accuracy of the tests,” said Lee Kyung-bin from the ministry’s environment transportation division to The Korea Herald.
According to the ministry, Mercedes-Benz Korea had reapplied for official approval of nine-speed transmission for their cars on March 10, six days before the ministry imposed the fine.
By Kim Da-sol (firstname.lastname@example.org