Nissan CEO says it would be hard to hide any effort to falsify emissions data

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance speaks during a question and answer session organised by the Japan Chamber of Commerce in Tokyo on July 16, 2015.
Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance speaks during a question and answer session organised by the Japan Chamber of Commerce in Tokyo on July 16, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Nissan Motor chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn said it would be difficult for an automaker to conceal internally an effort to falsify vehicle emissions data, such as has happened at Volkswagen.

The revelation at VW raises new "trust" issues for global automakers in the eyes of consumers, Ghosn told Reuters journalists in New York on Tuesday (Sept 22).

He declined to comment specifically on what happened within VW but said that a lot of people likely would know about such an effort within a company.

"I don't think you can do something like this hiding in the bushes," said Mr Ghosn, who is also CEO of Nissan's alliance partner, Renault, as well as chairman of their Russian partner, AvtoVAZ.

Volkswagen has been caught in a deepening scandal since the news broke Friday.

It has prompted questions about whether other automakers around the world may have also tampered with emission equipment on diesel engines to skirt tough US standards. Volkswagen has said it will record a 6.5 billion euro (S$10.3 billion) charge in the third quarter to help cover the costs of the debacle - and that the price tag could rise.

Mr Ghosn said the scandal is a challenge for other global producers, who now face scrutiny over their own practices. Public trust of automakers has already fallen in the wake of high-profile recalls - including one linked to deadly ignition failures in General Motors cars.

Asked what the industry needs to do to respond to the scandal, Mr Ghosn replied: "Be extremely open."

Mr Ghosn said he was surprised the Volkswagen revelation did not come from an internal source, such as a whistleblower. The problem was first spotted by a research centre at the University of West Virginia, which was analyzing diesel emissions under a contract from a European non-profit group.