Dossier says automaker has been cheating for 25 years
Renault boss Carlos Ghosn should be held liable for the automaker’s suspected diesel emissions cheating scandal, a dossier from a French government agency alleges. The document was submitted last November by the finance ministry’s DGCCRF anti-fraud group, and was obtained and published by French newspaper Liberation.
Additionally, the DGCCRF said in the dossier that Renault has been cheating emissions tests for as long as 25 years and that top executives, including Ghosn, were likely aware of it. However, Renault has never admitted to any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime.
In the dossier, the anti-fraud group stated that the “entire chain of command” should be held responsible; however, Ghosn should be directly accountable because “no delegation of powers had been established by Carlos Ghosn regarding the approval of engine control strategies.”
Several European countries have launched their own diesel cheating investigations in the wake of Volkswagen’s dieselgate scandal. So far, they have found on-road nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions more than 10 times above the legal limit for certain GM, Renault, and Fiat Chrysler models. Additionally, they have found widespread use of diesel emission reduction devices.
Renault and several other automakers told French lawmakers that their devices were legal under an EU loophole that allows so-called “defeat devices” to be used only when they are necessary for engine protection and safety. In Renault’s case, the NOx-reducing exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) process in some of its diesel engines has been known to clog turbochargers. In order to prevent this from happening, engineers programmed the EGR to shut down during certain temperatures, allowing vehicles to pass regulatory testing but emit high amounts of NOx while on the road.
Last year, French police raided Renault’s headquarters and seized several computers belonging to company directors. Shortly after, Renault recalled over 15,000 diesel crossovers to address real-world NOx emission issues.
In a statement, Renault said it “will not comment on a current investigation, the latter being confidential by nature and Renault having as yet no access to the case. As a consequence, Renault cannot confirm the veracity, completeness and reliability of the information published in [the] article.” The automaker called the article “unbalanced,” and maintains that it has not breached European or French vehicle regulations. Renault says it will continue to fully cooperate with the judges investigating the case.