South Korean automakers are reassessing their product strategies following the election of the new president Moon Jae-in last week.
During his election campaign, Moon Jae-in pledged to eliminate all diesel vehicles from the country's roads by 2030 in an effort to reduce air pollution.
The new president also signalled his intention to reduce fine dust emissions from diesel cars by 30% in the next five years. His policies are expected to encourage the introduction of zero and low emission vehicles such as electric and electrichybrid vehicles.
Automakers argue that forcing through these changes over a short period of time would impose enormous cost burdens on local businesses which rely heavily on diesel for goods and public transportation.
Kim Tae-nyen, managing director of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, said diesel vehicles are also favoured by private motorists for their fuel efficiency.
He added automakers soon are set to launch diesel vehicles that meet Euro6 emission standards which have far less harmful particle emissions than current models. Diesel vehicles also emit 20-30% less carbon dioxide than equivalent petrol models.
South Korean automakers have invested heavily over the last two decades to develop diesel technology that has enabled them to compete with their European counterparts.
The association said diesel models accounted for around 48% of total vehicle sales in the country last year compared with 19% in 2010. Also, around 70% of imported vehicles are diesel.
A total of 225,000 vehicles were imported into South Korea last year mostly from Germany.