Japanese automakers Toyota and Nissan have angered Korean authorities and consumers by misrepresenting the safety features and environmental standards of their cars sold in Korea.
Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) fined Toyota Motor Korea 817 million won ($726,200) last month for false advertising of its sport utility vehicle, the RAV4.
According to FTC investigations, the company started promoting the RAV4’s “top safety rating” from the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its press releases and catalogues since December 2014. But unlike the U.S. models, the cars sold in Korea did not have a shock absorber bracket, an added safety feature.
While Toyota’s catalogue did specify in fine print that specifications may differ from the actual vehicles, the FTC ruled that the wording had little relevance with the advertisement and still left room for misinterpretation.
The RAV4 sold 3,624 units in Korea, reaching almost 100 billion won in sales.
(Left) Nissan Qashqai and Toyota RAV4. [Photo by each company]
Nissan was found to have inflated the fuel efficiency of its premium sedan Infiniti Q50 2.2d, sold in Korea from February to November 2014. Its marketed fuel economy was 15.1 kilometers per liter; FTC investigations later found it to be 14.6 kilometers. The company sold 2,040 units, or 68.6 billion won worth of the vehicle in question during the period.
From November 2015 to June 2016, the automaker also advertised in Korea its compact crossover SUV, the Qashqai, as meeting the Euro 6 emission standards when in fact the results were rigged through manipulation of the exhaust gas recirculation system.
The Euro 6 is an environmental standard imposed by the European Union that defines the acceptable emissions limit for new diesel cars at 0.08 grams per kilometer. Korea has also adopted this regulation and waives 100,000 won a year in environment-related fees for vehicles that meet this standard.
By Kim Tae-joon and Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]