Nissan is being dragged into the emissions scandal that rocked VW after South Korean officials claimed they had found evidence of a so-called defeat device in the Qashqai crossover.
The South Korean government said it plans to fine Nissan 330 million won (£195,000) for cheating emissions – an accusation Nissan “firmly” denies. This is despite the fact the European Union had already cleared the Japanese manufacturer of any wrongdoing.
South Korea’s environment ministry reportedly tested 20 diesel cars and only the Qashqai failed. It now wants Nissan to pay a fine and issue a recall of the cars affected.
Hong Dong-kon, director at the ministry, said the Qashqai’s emission reduction device would turn off around 35 degrees Celsius, whereas other cars tested turned it off at 50 degrees Celsius.
This, government officials claim, helped the Qashqai achieve emissions levels on a par or slightly higher than diesel cars from VW – the first manufacturer to publically admit it had been using defeat devices to make its cars look better on fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
Mr Hong concluded: “All auto experts expressed the opinion that it was clearly a manipulation of the emissions reduction device.”
It is worth noting the EU tested the older Euro 5 Nissan Qashqai, as opposed to the newer Euro 6 model tested by South Korea.
Nissan said in a statement: “Nissan does not manipulate data related to our vehicles. The Nissan Qashqai has been correctly homologated under Korean regulations. Nissan has not and does not employ illegal defeat or cheat devices in any of the cars that we make.
“Furthermore, following stringent testing and using similar standards to the Korean tests, EU authorities have concluded that Nissan vehicles they tested used no illegal defeat device.
“Although the conclusions reached by the Korean authorities are inconsistent with those of other regulators, Nissan will carefully assess and consider appropriate next steps.
“Nissan is committed to upholding the law and meeting or exceeding regulations in every market where we operate. We are continuing to work with the Korean authorities.”
The Department for Transport admitted it was monitoring the findings of other investigations from around the world, but said it was too early to tell if new tests are needed in light of South Korea’s recent findings.
Mitsubishi was the second manufacturer to confirm it had cheated on emissions and subsequently its shares took a serious hit. Nissan has since confirmed it plans to buy a 34 per cent all-share stake of the company.
If Nissan is found guilty of cheating, it could lead to a mass recall of one of Europe’s best-selling cars, which would prove an expensive exercise.