Renault faces French criminal probe over diesel emissions

Thu Nov 10, 2016 6:52am EST
 
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By Laurence Frost

PARIS (Reuters) - Renault faces a criminal probe in France after the country's consumer fraud agency passed a file to prosecutors detailing suspicions its engines had broken emissions laws, the government said, sending the carmaker's shares lower on Thursday.

The industry ministry said late on Wednesday the DGCCRF consumer fraud agency had sent prosecutors the findings of its inquiry into possible emissions test manipulations by Renault, opened in the wake of Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal.

"It is now up to the courts to determine what further action to take over the suspected breaches," the government said in a statement. Officials at the prosecutor's office in Nanterre, west of Paris, were not available for comment.

Renault (RENA.PA: Quote) shares fell as much as 4.6 percent before recovering to 73.75 euros at 1100 GMT, still 2.2 percent below their closing price on Wednesday, before the announcement.

Renault said in a short statement its engines complied with European law. Neither the company nor government would describe the focus of the DGCCRF investigation when contacted by Reuters.

Besides Volkswagen (VW), Renault is the only carmaker so far to be referred for possible criminal investigation in France over suspected breaches of emissions rules.

Following VW's (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) exposure for using software to cheat U.S. tests, Renault and others have attracted scrutiny for their own use of "defeat devices" that reduce the effectiveness of technology to purge toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) from exhaust.

Such devices are calibrated to meet pollution standards during regulatory tests but not in many other conditions encountered on the road, when real emissions are allowed to soar. They are illegal except when deemed necessary to protect the engine - a European loophole that has been widely exploited.   Continued...

 
A Renault logo covered with mud and dust is seen on a wheel at a car in Grafenwoehr, Germany, October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle