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South Korea Accuses Nissan of Emissions Cheating on SUV Model

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Earlier today, the government of South Korea announced that it would order Nissan “to recall hundreds of its diesel-powered … sports utility vehicles,” following an impending investigation into potentially rigged emissions tests. The Ministry of Environment released a statement stating that the “the Japanese auto maker had used a defeat device that allows the SUV to clear stringent diesel emissions tests but helps turn off the vehicle’s emissions management system during actual driving conditions.” This comes after very similar allegations have been charged to VW this past month.

When addressing the situation, Dion Corbett, a spokesman for Nissan, denied the claims explicitly stating that “Nissan has not and does not employ illegal defeat or cheat devices in any of the cars that we make.” Mr. Corbett’s side of the story is strengthened by the fact that “EU authorities have concluded that Nissan vehicles they (the EU) tested used no illegal defeat devices.”

The fault may in fact lie with the manufacturer of the diesel engines inside the car, Renault SA. Earlier this year Renault recalled “more than 15,000 diesel vehicles to repair emissions-control systems” after a emissions probe launched by the French antifraud officials. Another cause for this investigation could be the recent large investment of Nissan in Mitsubishi Motor Corp, “which in April admitted to falsifying (emissions) data.” This is especially relevant after it was found out that two of the models for which the data had been embellished were manufactured by Mitsubishi but sold under Nissan’s brand name.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and to see how other governments will increase awareness and improve testing strategies to prevent these falsehoods in the market.


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  1. Note that Renault and Nissan operate jointly; a European Renault diesel in a Nissan is not an arms-length transaction. So this may be carrying over the European claims. The presence of a defeat device should be an open-and-shut investigation, I can’t imagine Nissan lying about this because they would be caught!

    May 17, 2016
  2. helgansg18

    This is an incredibly important accusation to the Japanese automaker. Last week, Nissan swept in to save Mitsubishi from sure bankruptcy by becoming the majority shareholder of the company. This move was considered a win-win because Mitsubishi was saved and Nissan gained valuable market share. Additionally, Nissan was a good solution to Mitsubishi’s questionable ethics because Nissan was considered to be an ethically sound company ready to fix the company culture and brand identity of Mitsubishi. With claims that Nissan too cheated emissions tests, both companies could be on the brink of collapse. This story will run its course over the next few weeks, and it will be interesting to watch if these claims are accurate.

    May 17, 2016
  3. adamsm19

    It likely doesn’t matter whether the emissions defeat system was installed by Nissan or Renault. Given the recent emissions cheating scandals, the automaker will be blamed for the cheating and this could undermine Nissan’s position as a stable and ethical company. It will be interesting to see if these accusations, whether founded or not, will impact the recent deal with Mitsubishi.

    May 17, 2016
  4. frankn18

    I can’t imagine Nissan would lie about putting in defeat devices.. they’re physical devices/software that can be easily found by someone who knows where to look. 70% of the car is not made by the OEM and a supplier could be at fault here. Despite this, Nissan would still be reliable for putting the part in the vehicle. Diesel car power trains are outsourced much more frequently than other engines. Just at VW was caught with diesel cars, it seems like out sourcing could be the problem.

    May 17, 2016
  5. brewsterw18

    I was just curious if you knew what exactly lead the South Korean government to recall the Nissan automobiles. Was it a civilian complaint or simply precaution? Furthermore, going off what Nate said, I honestly don’t think that Nissan would ever lie about putting defected devices in their vehicles. This would completely destroy the business ethics that the company has to pride themselves on with vehicles (“Think Green” is now apart of the Ford plan for its cars so it must be similar with Nissan). Therefore, it’ll be interesting to see what comes out of this since there’s a lot of implications on the line for both parties involved, especially Nissan.

    May 19, 2016

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