Just as we thought we had seen the back of the false emissions scandal, carmaker Nissan has admitted it has uncovered evidence of misconduct relating to exhaust emissions and fuel. The announcement affects 19 models sold in Japan and will lead to questions about tests for their cars around the world.

Altered measurements

The Japanese car giant revealed this week that it had found that the testing environment for both emissions and fuel economy in final vehicle inspections were not in line with the requirements. It had also found that in most of its factories in Japan, inspection reports were based on altered measurements.

The checks found that staff at four plants had altered emissions and fuel economy data for over 900 cars and over a dozen models. The checks also found problems with testing equipment being incorrectly calibrated, leading to incorrect test results.

In a recent statement, the company added that a full and comprehensive investigation of the fact, causes, and background of the misconduct is already underway. They discovered the problem during voluntary compliance checks after an improper inspection scandal last year.

Second scandal

It is the second scandal for Nissan following the problems it experienced last year. In this situation, Nissan was forced to recall 1.2 million new passenger cars sold in Japan over the previous three years because final vehicle inspections were not carried out by authorised technicians.

The company has had to recall all passenger vehicles produced in Japan between October 2014 and September 2017 including the top-selling Serena minivan and the Note hatchback. All cars then had to undergo re-inspections including the steering radius, braking, and acceleration capability. In all, the process cost the company around $222 million.

Lessons not learned

However, it seems that Nissan didn’t learn their lesson from last years’ experience. While they did put compliance checks in place to stop the process repeating, it seems others ‘less than honest’ tactics were being used.

Despite the problems, the company insists that the plants still conform to the Japanese safety standards except for the GT-R sports car. It also denies releasing bogus fuel economy figures. Nissan said that the sampling tests guarantee the catalogue specifications for fuel economy for their vehicles, so these were unaffected by the new revelation.

The Japanese Transport Ministry has told the company to investigate the problem thoroughly and to come up with measures to prevent it happening again within one month.

Costly mistakes

The latest emissions scandal comes less than a month after German authorities fined Volkswagen €1.2 billion with regards to their emissions scandal. The matter came to light some three years ago, but the repercussions from it are still raw.

Prosecutors in the city of Braunschweig fined the company £880 million saying it had failed to oversee engine development activities, leading to over 10 million vehicles with illegal emission-controlling software installed being sold around the world. The company said they hoped that paying the fine would have a ‘positive effect on other official proceedings’ going on across Europe within the company and its various subsidiaries.

Fraud and false advertising

There still looks to be a rocky time ahead for car manufacturers. Munich prosecutors have widened their probe into emissions cheating at VW group’s luxury carmakers Audi and have even included chief executive Rupert Stadler as a suspect – accused of fraud and false advertising.

Their plant in Wolfsburg, Germany is also facing a shut down for several days in the next quarter, and the company put measures into place to adapt to the rigorous new emissions tests brought in by the EU.

The company has been placed on three-year probation in the US after pleading guilty to three felony counts. The company must either buy back, or fix, 85% of the vehicles in the US that were installed with the software or face higher emissions payments. They have already spent some £5.3 billion buying back 350,000 US cars, some of which had to be destroyed.

Damaging reputations

This latest scandal for Nissan is another blow for the Japanese car market which has always had a high reputation for their quality standards and integrity. However, this is the latest in a string of admissions from Japanese companies that have manipulated quality inspections.

Some employees have blamed the pressure to cut costs and to ensure production lines are moving. Others cite the global competition and the effect it has on quality control. Unrealistic targets, relying on factor works to sort out problems, and then finding that staff have achieved aims by any means are all issues facing the industry.

As the customer, the biggest problem is this – can we trust any car manufacturer to be honest with us? And can they ever win back our trust?

Have you personally been affected by the emissions scandals in some way? How long do you think it will take to gain the trust back? Did you expect this from Nissan? Let us know below

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