Cheating on Emissions? Nissan Faces Accusations From South Korea
When car manufacturers release products with defects or are dishonest with customers, car buyers can face serious consequences. A vehicle is an expensive purchase and if a car does not work as promised, it can mean big trouble for the vehicle owner.
California’s lemon laws provide some protection to car buyers whose vehicles turn out to be defective, but victims who get stuck with lemons often end up needing legal help to get manufacturers to do the right thing.
The consequences of vehicle defects and manufacturer deception have been seen on a grand scale as Volkswagen has come under fire for lying about vehicle emissions. Now, the NY Times reports Volkswagen may not have been the only manufacturer who did not behave in a forthright manner and intentionally deceived regulators.
Nissan Accused of Cheating on Emissions Tests
Volkswagen has been caught red handed and admitted to cheating on emissions testing by using a defeat device to lower emissions levels only when exhaust is being tested. After the deception came to light, South Korean officials began to investigate the emissions systems of 20 additional models of diesel vehicles within the country. The goal was to learn whether any other car makers had engaged in the type of scam which Volkswagen had admitted to perpetrating.
The Environment Ministry of South Korea said its investigation led to a discovery that Nissan has manipulated emissions on its Qashqai diesel-powered SUV. Nissan was the only other brand of vehicle that the Environmental Ministry believed had a cheating mechanism, although the authorities indicated that they had identified problems with emission levels in several other vehicles.
Officials ordered Nissan to recall the affected cars within South Korea -- a total of 841 vehicles. The company was also required to pay a fine of approximately $280,000 or 330 million Won and was told they had to suspend sales of the Qashqai. The Environmental Ministry had even indicated it was asking prosecutors to press criminal charges against the head of Nissan's South Korean operations.
Nissan disputes accusations that were made by the South Korean officials and indicates that the cars (which were made in Britain) were able to successfully pass pollution tests in Europe. Nissan also said it does not employ any cheat devices in any of the vehicles it makes.
However, even with its denial, the New York Times reports indicate that the accusations could cause the car company's reputation to take a hit as vehicle makers are under increased scrutiny due to Volkswagen's deception.
Car manufacturers owe honesty to consumers and have an obligation not to release any products that are defective or do not perform as expected. This includes emissions testing, and it also includes all other aspects of vehicle operations.
While governments will take action when fraud occurs on a large scale, it is individual consumers who must protect their interests when only their own car turns out to have defects. In San Diego and elsewhere in California, the lemon law can empower consumers if their cars turn out to have problems.