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Renault in emissions test fix report

French car manufacturer said to have installed a 'fraudulent device' in engines

French car giant Renault is suspected of installing ‘a fraudulent device’ in its engines to distort the results of emissions tests, according to a confidential report published by Liberation newspaper.

Up to 900,000 vehicles are affected, with two models – the Renault Captur and Clio IV – allegedly surpassing the legal carbon dioxide limits by over 300%.

Liberation published the contents of the report produced by the Economy Ministry in Bercy, which is behind a judicial investigation opened by the Paris public prosecutor’s office in January.

After the Volkswagen emissions scandal in autumn 2015, the French government launched an inquiry by the DGCCRF (Director general of competition, consumerism and repression of fraud) into the emissions of all the car brands sold in France. It is the report on this inquiry, written in November 2016, that Liberation gained access to. And the report’s conclusions are severe: “Renault SAS cheated consumers on the checks it carried out, and in particular the regulatory control of approval on polluting emissions.”

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The DGCCRF document shows clear differences between the performance of certain Renault engines during their testing in laboratories and their use in real conditions. These results have created “the suspicion of the installation of a ‘fraudulent device’ which specifically modifies the functioning of the engine to reduce emissions of NOx (nitrogen oxides) in conditions specific to the regulatory tests.”

According to calculations at Bercy, almost 900,000 vehicles have been sold under these regulations, representing sales of €16.8bn. The details of the models and the dates they went on the market are not known. But according to Liberation, Renault Captur and Clio IV models are particularly in their sights: they would surpass the threshold for carbon dioxide emissions by 377% and 305%, respectively.

In a statement, Renault said that “none of its services have infringed upon the rules, European or national, regarding the approval of vehicles”. In early February, CEO Carlos Ghosn defended the company, saying there was “no cheating” in the operation of their engines. “There are improvements to be made in the area of emissions in conditions of real use, which we are committed to,” he said.

As with Renault, the DGCCRF recently submitted the results of their probes into the vehicles of PSA and Fiat Chrysler to the courts. But, so far, no judicial investigation has been launched into these two manufacturers.

Several associations have made it known that they are considering civil suits, including consumers group UFC Que-Choisir and France Nature Environnement. Contacted by Liberation, a Parisian lawyer said he had already received “dozens of complaints from owners who feel they have been deceived”. Also, Renault faces a fine of 10% of its annual turnover, roughly €3.5bn.

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