Car emissions campaigners turn sights on Renault

Tue Nov 24, 2015 3:26pm EST
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By Andreas Cremer and Laurence Frost

BERLIN/LONDON (Reuters) - Renault's (RENA.PA: Quote) flagship Espace minivan released toxic diesel emissions 25 times over legal limits in a Swiss study, despite complying with EU tests carried out at unrealistically low engine temperatures, a German environmental group said on Tuesday.

The tests commissioned by the DUH group, which have not been independently verified, follows Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) admission that it used illegal "defeat devices" to cheat diesel emission regulations.

In a statement, Renault said it contested the findings of the DUH lobby group.

Environmental and consumer groups are leading calls for improved European Union tests to bring soaring car emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide into line with legal limits.

The DUH, which had earlier singled out General Motors' Opel brand in tests which suggested NOx emissions on the road were higher than those measured in official testing, has turned its fire on France's Renault in a report commissioned from the University of Applied Sciences in Bern.

When run with a warm or hot engine, a 1.6-litre Espace of the latest Euro 6 diesel generation emitted up to 2.06 grams of NOx per kilometer, the campaign group said, more than 25 times the EU limit. The vehicle met the statutory 80 milligram cap only with a cold engine after "specific pre-conditioning".

GM (GM.N: Quote) last month rejected similar DUH findings on its Opel Zafira model, after running its own tests monitored by Germany's TUV certification body.

The VW diesel scandal has drawn attention to a wider pattern of legal test manipulation that stops short of outright cheating. The EU rules themselves are now acknowledged to be inadequate even by carmakers such as PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA: Quote).   Continued...

A new Renault Espace is displayed on media day at the Paris Mondial de l'Automobile, October 2, 2014.  REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen