In a tersely worded statement this afternoon, Renault Group acknowledged that a French Government Agency forwarded a file on failed diesel emission tests to prosecutors, who now must decide the next steps.
Thus, Renault Group faces a criminal investigation over its diesel emissions. The file raised questions about whether the carmaker’s engine controls broke emission laws. Volkswagen of course, is facing criminal prosecution in France, Germany, the United States – among other jurisdictions, as well as ongoing civil litigation.
The French Government, part owner of Renault, said, “”It is now up to the courts to determine what further action to take over the suspected breaches.”
Renault said it “complies with French and European regulations. Renault vehicles are all and have always been homologated in accordance with the laws and regulations. They are compliant with the applicable standards. Renault vehicles are not equipped with cheating software affecting anti-pollution systems.”
Failed Diesel Emission Tests Rathole
The company also pointed out some complications with lax – we say laughable – EU diesel emission standards. So-called defeat devices on emission controls are outlawed EXCEPT to protect the engine. Surely Renault isn’t alone using this to improve the performance of its diesels under certain conditions. If so, other automakers should have failed diesel emission tests as well.
“The States, European Commission, Regulation Authorities and automotive manufacturers all share the opinion that the requirements of the applicable regulations need to be strengthened. This is the purpose of the future Euro6d Diesel Regulation,” Renault said.
It added, “Renault Group reminds that in March 2016 it submitted to the panel of the independent technical commission a complete nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission reduction plan for its Euro6b diesel vehicles in customer use, which has been deemed transparent, satisfactory and credible.”
Renault started making two changes to diesel emission systems last July:
- Extension of the operating range of the EGR systems – a key element in the reduction of nitrogen oxide. The studies and tests carried out since July 2015 allowing a doubling of the operating range at full efficiency of the EGR systems, without impacting the reliability and safety of engine and vehicle operation under customer driving conditions.
- Enhanced performance of the NOx trap which allows, in addition to the EGR, the storage and processing of nitrogen oxide at regular intervals. The frequency and efficiency of the purges have been increased with a more robust system to better manage the wide range of different driving conditions.
- Renault is also recalling diesels sold before that.
Diesel Sales Failing Across the EU
It’s not just Volkswagen Group with diesel woes or Renault Group (potentially), during August EU diesel car sales showed the lowest monthly market share since diesel penetration peaked in 2011. However, with a market share of 48.3%, diesel car sales remain substantial. Year-to-date the tally is 4.7 million diesel car sales. (European Diesel Car Sales Continue to Decline)