Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

South Korea Halts Some Nissan, BMW Sales in Emissions Probe

  • 3 carmakers found to have fabricated emission test documents
  • Total fines of $5.9 million slapped on three companies

South Korea banned the sale of 10 models built by Nissan Motor Co., BMW AG and Volkswagen AG’s Porsche after an investigation found the automakers fabricated documents related to emission tests.

The three manufacturers were slapped with total fines of 7.17 billion won ($5.9 million), which apply to 4,523 vehicles, and the certifications given for these models have been withdrawn, the Ministry of Environment said in a statement Monday. Six of the models are on sale, while four were discontinued, it said.

The ministry said on Monday it filed a criminal complaint against Nissan’s Korean unit on Jan. 2 for fabricating emission test results. This follows a fine in May on the Japanese automaker, whose Qashqai diesel sport utility vehicle was found to have emitted more nitrogen oxides than is allowed.

Carmakers and component suppliers worldwide are facing increased scrutiny following a spate of product performance scandals at companies including Volkswagen, Takata Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Last month, South Korea imposed a record fine on VW’s local unit for falsely advertising emissions ratings on cars sold in the country and in August blocked sales of 80 of the automaker’s models because it fabricated documents related to emissions and noise-level tests.

Imported cars accounted for about 15 percent of the market in South Korea in the 11 months through November, and the most popular choices include diesel models made by BMW and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, according to data from the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

A spokesman for Nissan said the automaker will cooperate closely with the regulators, while a representative of BMW said the company will work on regaining its certifications. Calls to Porsche Korea’s office in Seoul weren’t answered.

South Korea expanded its VW investigation in August into the fabrication of emission and noise-level test results to all foreign car brands covering 23 companies involving 110 diesel models.

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