SEOUL -- South Korea's Ministry of Environment said Tuesday it has decided to file a criminal complaint against Nissan Motor's local unit and its president for fabricating emission tests on the Qashqai crossover SUV.
The ministry also ordered Nissan to recall 824 units of the SUV sold in South Korea and pay a fine of 340 million won ($292,447), despite the Japanese automaker's denial of any wrongdoing.
The Qashqai's emission reduction device turns off when the engine temperature reaches 35 C, causing a sharp increase in nitrogen oxide emissions, the ministry said, citing road test results. The vehicle thus violates the country's clean air law banning intentional declines under normal driving conditions in functions related to emission components, it added.
Nissan has maintained that such a setting is widely permitted to protect engines. The mechanism in question was clearly stipulated in a document Nissan submitted to South Korean regulators for selling the Qashqai, the company said.
Nissan maintains that it has never wrongfully or intentionally installed mechanisms and illegal devices, the automaker said in a statement, adding that it will study countermeasures after analyzing the ministry's judgment.