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Korea orders Nissan recall over rigging

The Environment Ministry said Monday that it will order a recall of Japanese automaker Nissan’s Qashqai compact crossovers, as the company manipulated its emissions result.

The ministry is set to charge Nissan Korea 330 million won ($280,000) in fines and suspend sales of the emissions-faked model. A total of 814 cars sold since November have been ordered to be recalled. The company should submit its recall plan within 45 days.

According to the ministry, Nissan faked its emissions test results by using a defeat device that allows the vehicles’ emissions to be controlled by a company-manufactured emission reduction device.

The ministry’s own experiment showed that Qashqai in fact discharged nearly 20 times more nitrogenous compound (1.36 grams per kilometer) than the ministry standard of 0.08 g/km.
An Environment Ministry official demonstrates the exhaust gas recirculation system of Nissan’s Qashqai model during a press conference Monday. (Yonhap)
An Environment Ministry official demonstrates the exhaust gas recirculation system of Nissan’s Qashqai model during a press conference Monday. (Yonhap)
But the company denied the claim, saying “it had never used any device to manipulate the emissions results,” in an official statement released Monday. It also added that it would “fully cooperate with the ministry to resolve the issue.”

The ministry is set to file a suit against Takehiko Kikuchi, head of Nissan Korea, and cancel the certification of Qashqai’s emissions results approved last year.

The ministry’s action came after the government conducted a probe into 20 models of diesel cars here over the past five months, following German automaker Volkswagen’s emissions scandal last October.

According to the ministry, BMW’s 520d was the only model that followed the ministry’s standard, with emissions of 0.07 g/km of nitrogen dioxide.

Some other 17 makes of diesel cars, including Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque, Volkwagen’s Golf, Ssangyong’s Tivoli, KIA’s Sportage and Audi’s A3 discharged from 1.6 to 10.8 times more nitrogen dioxide than the standard.

Renault Samsung’s QM3 emitted about 17 times more nitrogenous compound than the standard, the highest level followed by Nissan’s Qashqai. An official from the company told The Korea Herald that it will voluntarily put effort to minimize the amount as low as five times of the ministry standard by the end of this year.

According to the revised Clean Air Act, the amount of exhaust fumes discharged from a new vehicle model launched from September 2017 onward must be within 2.1 times the ministry standard. Related emissions laws will be strengthened by 2020, with an upper ceiling of 1.5 times the standard.

Vehicles that do not meet the standard will be banned from sales, regardless of whether the carmaker rigged the emissions result or not.

The ministry vowed to conduct probes on at least 100 diesel-engine vehicles annually through frequent inspections on emissions test results.

Last year, Volkswagen was found to have faked the emission results of its diesel models, which led to an unprecedented recall in the country of at least 120,000 vehicles.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)
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