Nissan refuses government request on Qashqai emissions

Nissan's decision to ignore a government request for emissions modifications to thousands of polluting cars has been branded a scandal by environmental campaigners.

Nissan refuses government request on Qashqai emissions

From 1 September 2019

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) discovered that the Sunderland-made diesel Qashqai model emits 17 times more nitrogen oxides (NOx) than EU limits allow.

It asked Nissan to retrofit the vehicles to reduce their emissions, as some other manufacturers have, but Nissan told the DVSA it was “not possible to do a recalibration for existing customers” because it wants “to focus energy and resources on the new models”.

“We find Nissan’s approach on addressing these extremely high-emitting vehicles unacceptable,” said a DVSA statement, pointing out that Renault, which uses a similar engine to the one used in the Qashqai, would be offering engine modifications to customers.

Similarly, Vauxhall is to make free adjustments to all of the diesel Astras it has sold across the EU, including almost 14,000 sold in the UK.

“Diesel car manufacturers have never been held to account for contributing to the illegal and harmful levels of air pollution in the UK,” said Andrea Lee, part of the clean air team at campaign group ClientEarth.

“Even new diesel cars are still not as clean as manufacturers would have us believe.”

The DVSA created its market surveillance unit in 2016 following the revelations that the Volkswagen Group had deliberately cheated on emissions tests.

From 1 September 2019, all new cars sold in the UK will have to meet “real driving emissions” standards that put stringent limits on the amount of nitrogen oxides that can be emitted. Using the new standard, the DVSA tested nine diesel cars and found that older models of the Qashqai breached the limits.

This “significant exceedance” meant the Qashqai was “not sufficiently well designed to control NOx in real world conditions”, said the DVSA. The agency, which is a branch of the Department for Transport, has prosecution powers which mean it can force manufacturers to issue recall notices. However, it has not done so in this case.

“We remain concerned by the poor real-world emissions control of a number of the vehicles we tested this year,” said the DVSA.

“Their emissions are high and are directly contributing to the air quality problems we face and the resulting health impacts.”

Rosalind Readhead, an independent candidate for London mayor in 2020, said Nissan ought to “immediately remove” the older Qashqais to “protect the health of children and vulnerable adults.”

“This is a consumer scandal that is costing people’s health and cannot be justified,” agreed ClientEarth’s Lee. “Refusing to retrofit over polluting vehicles does not take into account the health of people who are suffering today.”

“All Nissan vehicles fully comply with today’s emissions legislation,” Nissan said in a statement.

Nissan has made more than 3m Qashqais at its Washington plant in the north-east of England over the past 10 years.

Carlton Reid

This article first appeared on the Guardian

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