Korea is alone in Nissan emissions cheating claims

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Korea is alone in Nissan emissions cheating claims


The Ministry of Environment’s claim that Nissan Korea cheated on emissions tests for its diesel-powered Qashqai sports utility vehicle may backfire, as no other countries are accusing the Japanese automaker of intentional manipulation.

The website of the U.K. Department for Transport says the U.K.-built Qashqai discharged 1.5 grams of nitrogenous compound per kilometer according to its own test, whereas Korea’s Environment Ministry said Monday that the vehicle emits 1.67 grams per kilometer under realistic driving conditions.

Both figures exceed the Korean ministry’s standard of 0.08 grams per kilometer.

The Korean government said that because of its findings, it would fine Nissan Korea 330 million won ($280,000) and order the recall of the more than 800 affected Qashqais that have been sold in the country.

Nissan Korea has strongly denied the ministry’s accusation.

“Other regulatory agencies in the European Union known to have stricter emissions test standards have already concluded there was no intentional manipulation in setting up the exhaust gas recirculation device,” the company said in a statement.

“We have never, in the past and until now, installed a deceitful device on any of our cars.”

Meanwhile, Korea and the U.K. have differing opinions on whether the Japanese automaker intentionally cheated on its emissions test.

The Korean ministry said in a statement that auto experts concluded unanimously after two rounds of meetings in March and April that the emissions control device was “deceitful.”

However, the U.K. Transport Department said in a statement after testing 37 diesel cars that “our tests have not detected evidence of test cycle manipulation strategies as used by the Volkswagen Group. However, the tests have found higher levels of nitrogen oxide emissions in test track and real world driving conditions than in the laboratory for all manufacturers’ vehicles.”

Germany and France also released identical findings after separate tests.


The Korean ministry’s disclosure Monday sent a shockwave across the globe. It comes after consumers lost confidence in diesel vehicles in the wake of the Volkswagen Group emissions rigging scandal.

The Volkswagen saga led many countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France to retest diesel models in April.

The Qashqai is not the only model that shows discrepancy in emissions levels between laboratory conditions and realistic driving conditions, according to reports from both Korea and the United Kingdom.

The Korean ministry’s accusation came as the Qashqai’s exhaust gas reduction device was suspended when engine room temperatures reached 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), a temperature that a normal vehicle reaches 30 minutes into driving when the outdoor temperature is at 20 degrees Celsius.

An exhaust gas reduction device is justified when protecting the vehicle against damage or accident, the U.K. report said. Still, controversy surrounding the U.K.-made Japanese car is likely to continue, given that the Korean ministry insists Nissan “intentionally manipulated” the exhaust gas reduction device, which is designed to absorb nitrogenous gas and reduce emissions.

“It would be reasonable to say the setup was to protect the engines if the exhaust gas reduction device stopped at around 45 to 50 degrees Celsius, but 35 degrees is too low a temperature for the device to halt operation,” Hong Dong-gon of the Korean Environment Ministry said.

“We weren’t able to spot it in the initial test because we only ran the car for about 20 minutes, which didn’t bring up the engine room temperature to as much as 35 degrees.”

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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