South Korea bans sales of selected Nissan, Porsche and BMW models

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 4, 2017

Given the number of emission scandals that has grabbed the headlines last year, South Korea’s Ministry of Environment has banned the sales of certain Nissan, Porsche and BMW models. At least ten vehicles were found to have false emission test results, including Porsche’s Panamera S E-Hybrid, 911 GT3, Cayman GTS, 918 Spyder, Cayenne S E-Hybrid & Turbo and Macan S Diesel. Nissan’s Qashqai and Infiniti Q50 were also included as well as BMW’s X5 M SUV.

The three carmakers were fined a total of $5.9 million (equivalent to 7.7 billion won) for the 4,523 affected units sold and registered locally. According to Reuters, BMW and Nissan’s local divisions have said that something would be done to correct the fabricated documents to get back their certifications while Porsche, at this time, could not be reached to comment on the issue.

South Korea last year has banned a total of 32 models from Bentley, Audi and Volkswagen following the Dieslelgate cheating controversy. Volkswagen Group paid $15.98 million (or 17.8 billion won) to the South Korean government for falsification of documents. Among the vehicles banned since August 2016 are the Audi RS7 and the Volkswagen Golf.

It does look like the government has grown stricter now and has broadened the coverage of its investigations. Nissan was accused of using a “cheating device” for its 20 diesel vehicles that allegedly turn off its pollution reduction system under normal temperatures. Apparently, the Qashqai diesel emits more nitrogen oxide than it has declared on the emission test findings. Due to this, the South Korean government has included the Qashqai SUV on the blacklist. The Japanese car manufacturer however denied the allegations, stating that it did not employ cheating devices on any of its vehicles.

After the initial investigations last year, South Korea’s ministry director Hong Don-kon suggested that they will give the companies more than a month to explain their side. Until such time, the government plans to withdraw the certifications as well as prevent these companies from selling their products locally. The prosecutors were then asked to conduct further investigations until a final decision was made.

Based on the data released by Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, foreign car manufacturers make up at least 15% of the market share. Covering January up to November of 2016, the popular cars include Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Unexpectedly, sales of imported vehicles in the peninsula dropped by seven per cent in those eleven months. This decline in annual sales happens to be the first in the last seven years.

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