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Nissan Qashwai in showroom in Russia

Lawsuit alleges Nissan petrol cars fitted with ‘defeat devices’

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Law firm Harcus Parker has claimed it has evidence that more than a million Nissan and Renault vehicles may be fitted with “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests.

The diesel emissions scandal, which emerged in September 2015 and continued for several years, revealed that Volkswagen and other automakers had incorporated software which cheated emissions tests into some of their diesel vehicles. Tens of millions of cars are thought to have breached emissions standards, tens of billions of dollars of fines were issued by regulators, and several former executives received jail sentences.

Now it is alleged that petrol cars may have also been fitted with technology to cheat emissions tests, including the UK’s most popular family petrol car, the Nissan Qashqai. The Qashqai is assembled in Nissan’s Sunderland factory, as well as in plants in Japan and China.

Harcus Parker said that it has obtained documentation showing that the 1.2L petrol Qashqai model breaches emissions limits by up to a factor of 15 when driven on the road. This could affect up to 100,000 models.

It also alleged that more than a million other diesel Nissan and Renault vehicles may be fitted with banned “defeat devices” designed to cheat standard emissions tests. The lawyers estimate that as many as 1.3 million Nissan and Renault vehicles may be fitted with these devices.

“For the first time, we have seen evidence that car manufacturers may be cheating emissions tests of petrol as well as diesel vehicles,” said Damon Parker, senior partner at Harcus Parker. “We have written to Renault and Nissan to seek an explanation for these extraordinary results, but the data suggests to me that these vehicles, much like some [Volkswagen] and Mercedes cars, know when they are being tested and are on their best behaviour then and only then.

“These are vehicles which could and should meet European air-quality limits in normal use, but rather than spend a little more on research and development, Renault and Nissan appear to have gone down the same path as [Volkswagen] and Mercedes and decided to cheat the tests.”

According to the law firm, owners of affected cars are entitled to compensation of around £5,000 each.

Both Nissan and Renault have rejected the allegations.

A Nissan spokesperson said: “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. The initial report from 2017, which looked at the variation between lab and real-world conditions, showed variances for most brands involved. It also stated that the Nissan tested complied with all required regulatory limits. Emissions standards have evolved since 2017, and we have introduced a new range of powertrains to meet them.”

Renault issued a statement saying: “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.”

In May 2016, South Korean authorities alleged that Nissan had used defeat devices in diesel Qashqai models and ordered a recall of affected vehicles.

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