Renault has been accused by investigators of cheating emissions tests for as long as 25 years, according to a French newspaper.
French consumer protection agency DGCCRF has said that alongside falsifying emissions tests for more than two decades, the car maker’s top executives, including boss Carlos Ghosn, are likely to have been aware.
The allegations come from a report, published by French newspaper Liberation, in which the agency suspect Renault of using a device – in a similar manner to Volkswagen – so engines would meet nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution regulations. The report names two models, the Captur and Mk4 Clio, as polluting 300% higher than their tested results under real-world conditions.
The accusations follow claims made earlier this year that Renault had been cheating diesel emissions tests. At the time, Renault said its vehicles "are compliant with the applicable standards. Renault vehicles are not equipped with cheating software affecting anti-pollution systems".
The report published today said: "The car maker deceived consumers over the verifications conducted and in particular over the regulatory certification of the emission of pollutants.
"The results give rise to suspicions that a special device modified the performance of the motor to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions during the specific conditions of certification tests."
Renault has denied the allegations of emissions cheating.
The company said: "Groupe Renault has acknowledged the publication of an unbalanced national newspaper article related to the 'emission' case. This article alleges to quote selected excerpts from a report drafted by the DGCCRF.
"Groupe Renault 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 said article.
"Renault will prove its compliance with the regulations and reserves its explanations for the judges in charge of investigating this case. Groupe Renault reminds that none of its services has breached European or national regulations related to vehicle homologations. Renault vehicles are not equipped with cheating software affecting anti-pollution systems."
It added that it will "fully co-operate with the Judges in the context of an investigation which raises, between the European authorities and the member states, issues of interpretation of the standards governing the conditions of vehicle homologations".
In the earlier probe by French investigators reported in January this year, both Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), alongside Renault, were also reported to have been referred to French prosecutors following an investigation that found abnormal emissions of nitrogen oxide pollutants in their vehicles.
At the time, an FCA spokesman told Reuters that its diesels were fully compliant with applicable emissions requirements and said while it had reservations about the tests carried out, it will co-operate with the investigation.
Meanwhile, while Volkswagen is still fixing some of its customers' cars in order to decrease NOx levels, global boss Matthias Müller said yesterday that owners who claim that the brand's engine fixes have negatively affected their cars will have to face the company in court.