South Korea Fines BMW over Emissions Manipulating Software

Last February, South Korea’s antitrust regulator, KFTC or the Korea Fair Trade Commission, handed German carmaker BMW a fine equivalent to 15.7 billion won (approximately £9,495,652) about allegations of emissions manipulation. Authorities believe that the manufacturer colluded with Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz in installing defeat devices in their diesel vehicles sold in the country.

A defeat device is programmed to know if a vehicle is being tested so that it could reduce emissions to within safe and legal levels. While the vehicle is emissions-compliant and fuel-efficient in the eyes of regulators, this is just temporary.

When the vehicle is taken out of the laboratory for a drive in real-life road conditions, it releases unlawful, harmful amounts of nitrogen oxide or NOx, a group of gases with adverse impacts on the environment and human health.

The South Korean watchdog alleged that BMW and the two other German carmakers violated environmental regulations. They deceived their customers into buying vehicles that had compromised engines and substandard performance. The carmakers exposed South Koreans to acid rain, smog, and ground-level ozone, which can cause asthma and other respiratory ailments.

According to KFTC, BMW, VW, and Mercedes discussed in a meeting in June 2006 in Stuttgart, Germany how they should use a software system that hid real emissions by reducing the volume of diesel exhaust fluid that was sprayed. Thus, with the dual mode Selective Catalytic Reduction software, the vehicle’s NOx emissions are effectively lowered.

Additionally, the carmakers also agreed that none of them would manufacture single-mode system vehicles, which are environmentally safer diesel cars. As such, they prohibited the development of innovative technology for cleaner emissions. They also limited consumers’ options for purchasing eco-friendly vehicles.

KFTC’s cartel investigation division head Shin Dong-yeol said that the German carmakers shunned Bosch’s suggestion of using the single-mode system because even if it were effective in limiting emissions, their vehicles’ diesel exhaust fluid tanks would have to be bigger. So, the vehicle becomes heavier. The dual-mode system is also fuel-efficient.

Before South Korea’s legal action against BMW, the carmaker was involved in a similar collusion with the same German carmakers. Along with the Volkswagen Group and Mercedes’ parent company Daimler, BMW agreed to delay the development of new technology they created for clean emissions. The European Commission fined the carmakers in 2021.

Diesel emissions scandal: A brief explanation

Dieselgate or the diesel emissions scandal initially involved only the Volkswagen Group after US authorities allegedly discovered defeat devices in Audi and VW diesel vehicles in the American automobile market. It affected hundreds of thousands of vehicles, which Volkswagen had to recall as per the orders of the California Air Resources Board or CARB.

US authorities also fined Volkswagen and over the years, the carmaker has had to settle with affected drivers. The agreement cost VW millions. They have now spent billions in payoffs, including fees and compensation.

A few years later, US authorities sent Mercedes-Benz a notice of violation about accusations of defeat device use. Not long after, BMW was also implicated in the diesel emissions scandal. It was the KBA, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority, which shed light on the carmaker’s alleged use of the illegal device. BMW had to recall over 11,000 affected vehicles in 2018.

Aside from BMW, Volkswagen, and Mercedes, other carmakers are also involved in the Dieselgate scandal. The list includes prominent brands, such as Nissan, Vauxhall, Peugeot, and Renault.

These carmakers exposed drivers to dangerous NOx emissions. They also lied about the vehicles being emissions-compliant. Authorities believe they should be held responsible for choosing profit over the safety of their customers.

What does NOx do to your health?

Nitrogen oxide has two main components: NO, which stands for nitric oxide; and NO2 or nitrogen dioxide. They affect your health negatively and can lead to respiratory conditions, among others.

In recent years, studies have proven that NOx emissions have a significant impact on a person’s mental health. If you’ve had incidences of depression or anxiety in the past, they can become more frequent after exposure to NOx.

Researchers have also discovered that exposure to NOx also affects cognitive health. Once your cognitive abilities start to decline, you’ll be vulnerable to dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease.

The most dangerous impacts of exposure to nitrogen oxide are the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Your lungs fill up with fluid (pulmonary oedema)
  • Corroded teeth
  • Laryngospasm
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD (various respiratory conditions combined)
  • Asphyxiation
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cancer
  • Premature death

Reports reveal that air pollution is linked to thousands of early deaths around the world every year. It is now in the same league as HIV and AIDS, smoking, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Make your carmaker answer to you; make them pay for their illegal actions. Bring them to court through a diesel claim.

Am I qualified to file my diesel claim?

All affected drivers are eligible to file a diesel claim and receive compensation. Your claims case should be on the right path, though, so you must verify if you are qualified first before springing into legal action. Visit and gather all the details you need to ensure that you are qualified to receive compensation.

Once you are done, work with an emissions expert in bringing your emission claim forward.

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