South Korea handed out fines to one Japanese and two German automakers as it announced bans on a series of 10 import models because of false documentation, as part of a probe into vehicle emissions standards. Total fines are 7.17 Billion Won ($5.9 Million).
According to the South Korean Ministry of Environment, it cancelled the certification for some car models from BMW, Nissan and Porsche. The vehicles were illegally certified for sale based on fabricated documents.
Last Monday, the ministry said that it filed a criminal complaint against Nissan's Korean unit on Jan. 2 for falsifying emission test results. This follows a fine on the Japanese automaker last May, wherein its Qashqai diesel sport utility vehicle was found to have exceeded the allowed nitrogen oxides emission.
South Korea accused Nissan of installing an illegal device that is used to automatically switch off the exhaust-reduction system under regular driving temperatures. South Korean government officials said that the system turns off when the engine's temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit, much lower than the other models the government investigated.
Although Nissan paid the fine, still the automaker denied the accusation and sued the government. Nissan argued that it is well within the law because the device in the vehicles is used just to prevent the engines from overheating. Nissan faces further investigation, while the violations attributed to BMW and Porsche are considered minor. BMW allegedly used test result data from the X6M for documents related to the X5M. BMW says both models used the same motor.
South Korea says 10 models will need to be sent back through the emissions certification process before they can be sold in the country. The following models will shortly be discontinued, Infiniti Q50, Nissan Qashqai, BMW X5M, Porsche Macan S Diesel, Porsche 918 Spider, Porsche Cayman GTS, Porsche 911 GT3, Porsche Panamera, S-Hybrid Porsche, Cayenne SE-Hybrid, and Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
The ministry started investigating different automakers after a mess caused by Volkswagen for hiding illegal software in its models for several years. South Korea stood up against VW by indicting an executive of the automaker and banning the sales of 80 Audi, Bentley and VW models.
The sales of almost all VW models in South Korea were halted in August. Sales of imported cars in South Korea fell 7 percent during the first 11 months of 2016.