‘No emissions fraud’ in Renault engines as stocks plummet

French ministers have reassured Renault owners and investors that no performance-modifying software was detected in engines of Renault vehicles following reports that fraud investigators had inspected three of the carmaker's sites.

The raids took place last week as investigators looked for ‘defeat devices’ which were used in the recent VW emissions scandal. As reports of the investigation broke, Renault stocks fell by 20% effectively costing the company around €5bn in market value.

A union official, Florent Grimaldi, told Reuters: “There were searches at several Renault sites by fraud investigators. Management has not confirmed that it is about NOx emissions but given the sectors that were inspected we think that it could be linked.”

Renault have since confirmed that the raids did take place but denied the use of emissions technology, a statement that has been echoed by France’s ecology and energy minister Ségolène Royal.

Since the minister moved to calm the market on Thursday morning, Renault stocks have rallied by around 10%.

Emissions scandal

The independent technical commission that instigated the raids was established as a result of the VW scandal. Despite not finding any evidence of fraud, Royal did confirm that Renault cars were emitting carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide above established allowance levels.

Renault announced late last year that it would seek to invest around €50m in order to reduce its commercial vehicle emissions down to those recorded under test conditions.

It is believed that other car manufacturers in France have been visited by the fraud investigators.

Last year’s Volkswagen emissions scandal saw engines rigged with ‘defeat devices’ to allow the cars to emit less on test drives compared to commercial sales emissions, which caused nearly one million tonnes of extra pollution.

The aftermath of that scandal saw European Member States reach a compromised deal to introduce “real-world” emissions tests, essentially allowing vehicles to continue emitting more than twice the agreed pollution limits.

As part on an alliance with Nissan, Renault has succeeded in selling more than 250,000 electric vehicles, a partnership that has reduced on-road emissions by millions of tonnes of carbon.

This alliance also provided delegates at COP21 with zero-emitting EVs to transport them around the conference – acting as official passenger car providers for the conference.

Matt Mace

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