South Korean-made cars will be required to have on-board emission testing devices from 2005 to be uniformly applied by 2010, the environment ministry reportedly said on Friday.

The Korea Times said the devices, known as on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems, are mandatory in advanced countries such as the United States and Europe, and are used to control engine functions and diagnose engine problems – they are also viewed to be effective in reducing air pollution as they warn the driver if emissions reach abnormal levels due to malfunction.

The ministry reportedly said that the measure will first be applied to petrol-powered passenger cars with engines of at least 800 cc, weighing less than 3.5 tons and which can seat no more than 8 people. Ten percent of passenger cars will be required to fit the OBD systems next year, and installation will be gradually expanded to 30% in 2006 and all petrol cars by 2007.

In case of diesel passenger vehicles, which will hit the local market from next year, the device must be installed in all cars from 2007, the paper added.

Recreation vehicles or RV, will be affected from 2008, and freight cars, from 2008. Buses and large trucks, meanwhile, will be obligated to install OBD systems by 2010, the Korea Times said.

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Prices reportedly are expected to jump from between 45,000 won to as much as 220,000 won per vehicle once the devices are installed.