An automobile company lobbying for stricter emissions standards? It might sound like an unlikely tale, but not when the bottom line is at stake. General Motors is pressuring the South Korean government to impose tougher standards for diesel emissions than it is currently considering. Here’s why: The automaker is trying to increase the competitiveness of its Korean affiliate, GM Daewoo. GM Daewoo won’t have any diesel cars ready by 2005, when Seoul plans to impose moderate emissions standards, but by 2006, it will be ready to sell cars that meet far stricter standards. If the company can convince the government to impose the stricter standards earlier, it will prevent its competitors — notably Hyundai — from gaining a significant lead in the market before GM Daewoo can even offer a competing product. So far, though, Seoul has stuck to its original timetable, a move GM Daewoo says illegally favors Hyundai. For its part, Hyundai says changing the timetable would favor GM Daewoo. Nonsense, says GM Daewoo: It would simply favor cleaner air for everyone.