A group of French drivers who claim their lives were put in danger by faulty engines in their Renault and Nissan cars have launched legal action against both manufacturers in a first-step procedure to seek financial compensation.
The group claims both firms knew about the faults but failed to warn or protect them. The car specialist magazine L’Argus estimated that more than 100,000 cars - all with 1.2 TCE engines - were affected in total.
Christophe Lèguevaques, the lawyer representing the class action, announced via Facebook that he had served court orders yesterday (June 16) after Renault missed a June 15 negotiation deadline.
Mr Lèguevaques asked for a payout deal with the manufacturer and accepted a 10-day extension from an initial June 5 deadline after Renault pledged it would provide an answer by June 15.
Renault and Nissan are now summoned for an audience on July 12 when an official date for a defence speech will be set.
The court orders are part of a two-step judicial proceedings that will look to force Renault and Nissan to release internal documents which, the group claims, show the manufacturers knew about the faults.
Olivier Blanchet, the president of the ‘victimes du Motorgate’ association representing several hundreds of drivers, said the association is convinced Renault had knowledge based on leaked internal documents but needs a legal order for the documents to be released.
“We know what to look for and which documents we will find. We know this will prove their guilt,” Mr Blanchet told The Connexion. “We want justice to acknowledge that the phenomenon has affected thousands of people.”
1,283 people filed a class action lawsuit in January against Renault after experiencing failing engines on its 1.2 TCE engines. Some claim engine failures left them fearing for their lives as they cut out as they were driving at speed on motorways.
Mr Blanchet said the class action will also look to denounce Renault's terms and conditions for drivers who buy cars through their concessionaire garage network.
Mr Blanchet said Renault often imposed a policy requiring drivers to sign a ‘transactional protocol’ document forbidding them to later raise complaints against Renault.
The class action lawsuit plans two-phase court action between now and autumn 2022.
The first phase, called ‘discovery’ - taken from the Anglo-Saxon law term - will require Renault to produce a list of documents.
The association is also considering taking complaints from drivers affected in the United Kingdom, Israel and / or Romania.