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(LEAD) Audi Volkswagen Korea to apply lemon laws for cars sold since Jan.

Autos 21:28 August 29, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 8-9)

SEOUL, Aug. 29 (Yonhap) -- Audi Volkswagen Korea said Thursday it will retroactively apply lemon laws on its vehicles sold since January in a move to boost declining sales in Asia's fourth-biggest economy.

The decision came as the German carmaker's four brands -- Audi, Volkswagen, Lamborghini and Bentley -- prepare to apply the laws for Korean customers Monday.

The Korean lemon laws went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, to enhance customers' convenience, though it is not obligatory for companies to follow them.

Under lemon laws in the United States, those who purchase cars and other consumer goods that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance are compensated by the sellers. The term "lemon" has long been used to describe defective vehicles in the United States.

Vehicles that qualify for the lemon laws should have been purchased less than one year earlier and not have traveled more than 20,000 kilometers, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

If the vehicle underperforms or malfunctions due to the same problem, a government-led experts committee will decide whether the vehicle should be exchanged or refunded, the ministry said.

Audi Volkswagen resumed sales in Korea in early 2018 after suspending normal operations in 2016 following an emissions cheating scandal. In January this year, the carmaker again suspended sales due to its "internal approval process" for relaunching its vehicles in Korea, resuming operations in mid-May.

Last week, a Seoul court ordered Audi Volkswagen to pay a total of 2.5 billion won (US$2 million), or 1 million won per person, to 2,499 owners of Audi and Volkswagen cars for psychological damages that they suffered from the scandal.

As of Thursday, the Arteon midsize sedan with a 2.0-liter diesel engine is the only Volkswagen model available in the Korean market. Two Audi models -- the 2.0 gasoline A5 sedan and the flagship Q7 SUV -- and Lamborghini and Bentley models are sold here, according to the group.

The carmaker has been struggling with weaker sales in Korea as consumers choose other imported brands, such as Mercedes-Benz and Lexus over Audi and Volkswagen models.

In the January-July period, sales of the group's four brands plunged 63 percent to 5,005 vehicles from 13,517 units a year earlier, according to the Korean Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

(LEAD) Audi Volkswagen Korea to apply lemon laws for cars sold since Jan. - 1

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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