Tragic accident raises issue of luxury car repairs

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Tragic accident raises issue of luxury car repairs

The 22-year-old driver of a Kia Morning compact car was in a fender-bender with an E-Class Mercedes-Benz stopped at a traffic light in Gumi, North Gyeongsang, at around 2:45 a.m. yesterday.

The driver, a university student identified as Kim, scratched and dented the driver’s side door, but no major damage was done.

The Mercedes 2008 E-Class costs nearly 90 million won ($79,380) in Korea, including registration fees and taxes.

Though it was a minor accident, Kim decided to flee the scene, and so began a two-kilometer (1.24-mile) chase between the two drivers.

The chase ended tragically as the young driver was killed when his car slid on a rain-soaked road and rolled three times. The driver died instantly in the crash.

With the death of the driver, questions emerged as to why he chose to flee the scene and why the driver of the Mercedes chased after him.

Some speculate that the drivers’ decisions may have been influenced by the high repair costs for foreign cars, especially German-made automobiles.

“We have yet to find evidence that the [Kia] driver was under the influence of alcohol,” said a police officer involved in the case.

“We are assuming that he might have chosen to run away because he was worried about potential high repair costs.”

It is reported that to fix dents on a Mercedes the entire part often needs replacing, rather than flattening the dented part through molding work.

And since Mercedes is in the luxury category, car owners prefer total replacement of damaged parts, not partial parts-fixing, according to the vehicle repair industry.

If someone were to pay for the replacement of a Mercedes’ dented driver side door, it would cost them over 4 million won.

During the repair period, the person responsible for the accident has to pay for a car rental service, which costs up to 350,000 won per day.

Considering it generally takes five days for the repair work to be done, it could cost up to 6 million won to fix minor dents on a Mercedes.

BY KIM YUN-HO [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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