Renault-Nissan Facing Claims of Emission Cheat Devices

Renault and Nissan have been accused of employing emission cheat devices to improve recorded pollution levels in both diesel and gasoline engines.

A UK law firm has filed a lawsuit against the companies claiming 1.3 million vehicles sold by the companies in the country could be equipped with devices similar to those used in Volkswagen Group vehicles that sparked the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal.

The BBC reports that law firm Harcus Parker alleges that some cars produced up to 15 times the legal level of nitrogen oxides when used on the road. These include 100,000 1.2-liter gasoline versions of one of the UK’s best-selling family cars, the Nissan Qashqai.

Gasoline engines are known for producing less city air polluting nitrogen oxides (NOx) than diesel powertrains which, on the other hand, benefit from more climate friendly lower CO2 outputs. The firm claims that tests carried out by the Uk government’s Department for Transport (DfT) in 2017 confirmed that this was the case also claiming that Nissan did nothing to resolve the issue.

The company now claims consumers should each be compensated to the tune of £5,000 ($6,210) for over-paying for the vehicles making the lawsuit potentially threatening the automakers with a bill of £6.5Bn ($8.07Bn). It cited findings by the independent testing company, Emissions Analytics, whose studies found the gasoline powered Qashqai recorded much higher NOx levels that automaker claims during ‘real world’ assessments.

Speaking to the BBC, Emissions Analytics founder, Nick Molden, said: “We found it produced about 16 times more NOx in real world conditions than the official level.” Damon Parker, senior partner at Harcus Parker, said: “For the first time, we have seen evidence that car manufacturers may be cheating emissions tests of petrol, as well as diesel vehicles. The data suggests to me these vehicles much like some VWs and Mercedes cars, know when they are being tested and are on their best behaviour then and only then.”

Both automakers deny the claims. In a statement, Renault said: “All Groupe Renault vehicles are, and always have been, type-approved in accordance with the laws and regulations for all the countries in which they are sold and are not fitted with ‘defeat devices’.” Nissan’s statement read: “Nissan strongly refutes these claims. Nissan has not and does not employ defeat devices in any of the cars that we make, and all Nissan vehicles fully comply with applicable emissions legislation.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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