Ministries cut GM Korea slack on safety laws

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Ministries cut GM Korea slack on safety laws


The Damas van, left, and Labo truck. [JoongAng Ilbo]

GM Korea, the nation’s third-largest automaker, will resume the manufacture of its light commercial vehicles (LCV) starting this July after the government postponed the rollout of some safety and environment regulations.

The Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said they are giving a grace period of up to six years on some safety and environment regulations that could have been applied to GM Korea’s Damas van and Labo truck so that the automaker can continue producing those two models, which were discontinued from this year.

The Damas van and Labo truck have been favorites among small business owners since they were first introduced in 1991 by Daewoo Motor, the predecessor of GM Korea. In addition, the company became the sole producer of LCVs in Korea after Kia Motors discontinued its Towner in 2002.

The Damas and Labo have been popular with delivery services as their small size allows drivers to move through narrow streets while carrying more cargo than motorcycles. They can also use liquefied petroleum gas, which is cheaper than gasoline or diesel. In addition, the vehicles are eligible for a tax deduction, as well as a 50 percent discount on public parking fees and highway tolls.

Last year, GM Korea announced that the Damas and Labo productions would be discontinued from this year because it is too costly to re-engineer them to meet reinforced safety and environment regulations beginning this year and next year.

The decision prompted anguish from groups like the Korean Drycleaners and Laundry Association because its members rely on such vans and trucks. They wrote letters to the ministry, asking it to help GM Korea. Since July, the government and GM Korea have been discussing the issue.

According to the Transport Ministry, safety equipment like electronic stability control and brake assistant systems should have been required in automobiles from 2015, but it has now given a six-year grace period. The ministry said new tire pressure monitoring systems have only been given a three-year grace period, while the maximum speed of the models will be set at 99 kilometers (61.52 miles) per hour.

The Environment Ministry said it will give a two-year grace period for on-board diagnostics II, an automatic system that informs the driver of engine malfunctions, which was going to be required in 2016.

The ministry added that it will impose citycar incentives for green gas emission and fuel-efficiency calculations in the future.

“We’d like to thank our customers for their support and the ministry’s attention to the Damas and Labo production,” GM Korea said in a release. “We will finish the related research and quickly resume production.”

Meanwhile, GM Korea said it is releasing a Spark LPG van model next Monday to meet the demand for small vehicles.


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