The French government has asked EU trade authorities to investigate whether Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors have dumped their cars in France, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
Late last month Paris pledged to ask the EU to check if Korean cars are subject to "safeguards provisions."
The daily quoted French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg as saying, "The two brands Hyundai and Kia are competing with our manufacturers in unacceptable conditions of dumping."
Paris is attempting to put the brakes on the two Korean carmakers since their sales there are improving by leaps and bounds.
Sales of new French cars dropped 14.4 percent in the first half of this year due to the eurozone debt crisis. French automakers PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault have begun large-scale layoffs and production cuts.
In contrast, Hyundai and Kia have achieved high sales growth of nearly 30 percent in the French market. The two carmakers took a 5.9 percent share of the entire European market in the first half, posing a threat to BMW or Fiat.
"Only 10 percent of the cars Hyundai sold in Europe last year were made in Korea and the rest in plants overseas including the Czech Republic and Turkey," Hyundai said in a statement. "It's illogical if they argue that an increase in our sales there since the conclusion of the bilateral free trade agreement is due only to lower tariffs or dumping."
Hyundai sold 403,015 and Kia 291,000 cars in Europe last year, 10 percent and 40 percent of which were exported from Korea.
"GM and Renault Samsung take up a whopping 49 percent of all Korean cars exported to the EU. It's unreasonable for European carmakers to single out Hyundai and Kia as their targets," a Hyundai executive said.