Nissan accused of manipulating emissions tests in S Korea

The South Korean government has accused Nissan of manipulating emissions tests for its popular Qashqai model.

South Korea's environment ministry tested 20 diesel car models and uncovered so-called defeat devices fitted to the Qashqai.

The Japanese car manufacturer would be fined 330 million won (£195,000; $279,920) and the head the company would face legal consequences.

Nissan has denied any wrongdoing.

Nissan is the second car manufacturer to have been found to use the so-called emissions cheating software. In September, Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emissions tests in the US across its range of models.

Last month, Japanese car manufacturer Mitsubishi Motors admitted it had falsified fuel efficiency test data for decades.

Nissan would become Mitsubishi's biggest shareholder after it agreed to acquire a 34-per cent stake in the company (See: Nissan Motor buys controlling stake in embattled Mitsubishi Motors for $2.2 bn ).

The South Korean government has called for the recall of hundreds of Nissan vehicles.

In a statement Nissan said, "Nissan Motor has never illegally manipulated any vehicles we have produced so far and used defeat devices in those cars."

According to Hong Dong-kon a director at the ministry, the SUV's emission reduction device stopped operating when the engine's temperature reached 35 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), about 30 minutes after starting the engine.

"Usually, some cars turn off the emission reduction device when the temperature reaches 50 degrees Celsius, to prevent the engine from overheating. The Qashqai was the only vehicle that turned it off at 35 degrees," Hong said in a press conference.

With the emission reduction device not working, the Nissan vehicle's level of emissions were found to be same or slightly higher than that of diesel cars of Volkswagen, which was fined for cheating on emissions tests.

"All auto experts expressed the opinion that it was clearly a manipulation of the emissions reduction device," he said.

Denying any wrongdoing, the Japanese company said it would assess the situation and continue to work with South Korean authorities.