Shown above is a captured photo of the corroded parts of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle posted by a Korean customer on a web page.

German automaker issues apology to Korean motorist

Mercedes-Benz Korea came up with an apology on Aug. 5 to a domestic motorist, who had accused the German automaker of selling a submerged vehicle.

The outfit promised to offer a new model to replace the car at issue.

“We made a deep apology to the customer and reached an amicable agreement,” Mercedes-Benz Korea said.

“Putting customer satisfaction first, we are checking the exact cause of this accident to prevent the recurrence of similar cases.”

However, the belated reaction has already tarnished the image of the automotive brand, which has headed the imported vehicle market over the past several years.

Late last month, a message was posted on the local web portal that cried foul at the sales practices of Mercedes-Benz Korea.

Back then, the customer claimed that the stereo system of his new Maybach GLS model, which was priced at 150 million won ($120,000), did not work properly.

Finding many parts in the control box were corroded, possibly from submersion, engineers recommended the car owner get an exchange, according to the anonymous customer.

Admitting the problems, however, Mercedes-Benz Korea requested 15 million won ($12,000) in return for the exchange, the customer said.

Experts point out that this is a serious problem.

“Now, cars are electronic appliances on wheels. What if electronic products were submerged? Their makers would sell them to people?” Prof. Kim Pil-soo at Daelim University asked.

“In fact, vehicles are much more dangerous than electronic goods. In case of malfunction, cars can claim the lives of people. Mercedes-Benz should learn lessons from this case. Otherwise, it would lose its leadership position.”

During the first seven months of this year, Mercedes-Benz accounted for 29.29 percent of the imported car maker, followed by BMW with 28.24 percent, according to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association.

Kevin Chung studied literature in Seoul. He is interested in various areas. He can be reached at or 82-2-6956-6698.