The sky-high repair charges for imported cars, which have long angered Korean consumers, will likely fall starting next year, as the government is set to toughen oversight on car importers and other relevant industries through legislation, officials said Sunday.
The average repair cost for imported vehicles reached 2.33 million won (US$2,145) last year, about 4.3 times the average of 540,000 won for domestic cars, according to industry data.
Owners of accident-damaged imports were paid an average of 2.96 million won in insurance benefits in 2012, compared with 1 million won for indigenous vehicles.
Accidents involving imported cars incur an average of 3 million won in insurance charge on top of an additional 2 million won in rentals during the period of repair.
As local consumers' patience is running out over the hefty repair costs of foreign cars, the government has come out in support of an opposition lawmaker's proposal for the revision of the Automobile Management Act and Passenger Transport Business Act.
The revised bills submitted by Rep. Min Byung-doo of the Democratic Party call for greater transparency in pricing of the repairs of imported cars, drawing support from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the Financial Services Commission and the Financial Supervisory Service.
The government's push to deflate foreign car repair costs and insurance premiums is likely to gather further momentum, as Seoul prosecutors have recently launched an investigation into suspected inflation in the prices of foreign car parts and repair expenses.
"There is a government-wide consensus over the settlement of sky-high repair charges for imported vehicles," said a ministry official. "Foreign car dealers and repair shops are not resisting the reform pressure as strongly as before."
If the two auto-related bills pass, repair shops will be obliged to give their customers accurate details of their repair work, including the duration of the job, and unit cost, manufacturer and serial number of all auto parts used in the process.
Customers would also be notified on whether second-hand parts were used in the repair of their vehicles under the new bill.