UPDATE 3: Renault Says Investigators Did Not Find 'Defeat Device' Evidence

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson

Agents from France’s Economy Ministry’s fraud office last week raided the headquarters of automaker Renault, as well as other sites in Guyancourt and Lardy, as part of a probe into heavily polluting diesel vehicles in the European country. Specifically, the agents were said to be looking into “possible engine-rigging to dodge pollution controls,” reported RFI.

Renault stated that investigators found “no evidence of a defeat device equipping Renault vehicles,” Reuters reported.

Renault is now the second automaker to be investigated on a deeper level after Volkswagen admitted to falsifying CO2 emissions data in Europe and implementing a “defeat device” in diesel vehicles worldwide.

The General Confederation of Labour, which represents employees of Renault, distributed a leaflet stating the raids were linked to a diesel-emission investigation. On Thursday, Renault acknowledged the raids at three separate sites by agents from the fraud office.

Shares of Renault SA opened Thursday morning at $92.58, then tumbled and came back. By the middle of the day, shares had sunk to $73.15, before rebounding to $84.52 at 15:45 GMT (down 10.14 percent from morning open) after the automaker stated investigators had found no evidence of a “defeat device.”

Renault released the following statement:

Following public disclosure by the EPA – US Environmental Protection Agency – of the existence of a Defeat Device software used by a leading car manufacturer, an independent technical commission was created by the French Government.

The purpose of this independent technical commission is to verify that French car manufacturers have not installed equivalent devices in their vehicles.

In this regard, the UTAC (French Homologation Authority mandated by the Ministry) is currently testing 100 vehicles in circulation, including 25 Renault vehicles reflecting Renault’s market share in France. At the end of December 2015, 11 vehicles had already been tested, including 4 Renault vehicles enabling the French public authorities to initiate productive discussions with Renault’s engineering team.

The French Agency for Energy and Climate (DGEC), which is, on behalf of the Ministry for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, the main contact for the independent technical commission, already considers that the on-going procedure would not reveal the presence of a defeat device on Renault’s vehicles.

This is good news for Renault.

The on-going tests open the way for improvement solutions for future and current Renault vehicles, presented in its Renault Emissions Plan which is aimed at improving the energy performance of our vehicles.

At the same time, the DGCCRF decided to carry out additional on-site and material investigations, in order to definitively confirm the first findings resulting from the analysis of the independent technical commission.

The DGCCRF went to the Headquaters, the Renault Technical Centre in Lardy and the Technocentre in Guyancourt.

Renault’s teams are fully cooperating with the independent technical commission and the additional investigations decided by the Ministry of Economy.

Following the success of the COP21, Renault intends to accelerate its investment towards industrial solutions aiming at protecting the planet.

The Renault Group is already in the top 3 (1st in 2013, 2nd in 2014) in the improvement programs of the carbon footprint. Over the last 3 years, the Renault Group has reduced by 10% the carbon footprint of its vehicles.

A “defeat device” is at the center of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal in the U.S. Nearly 600,000 vehicles powered by the automaker’s 2- and 3-liter TDI diesel engines have been programmed to game emissions tests.

A German hacker presented at a conference last month evidence that showed Volkswagen intentionally ran its vehicles in a “normal” mode during European NEDC tests. The ECU programming would supposedly underdose AdBlue — the NOx-fighting diesel emissions fluid — during most operational scenarios. It’s that underdosing, he claimed, that’s the cause of the excessive NOx emissions in Volkswagen’s diesel vehicles.

More as it develops.

[Photo credit: By Lowdown (Own work) [ CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

Mark Stevenson
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  • JimZ JimZ on Jan 14, 2016

    keep in mind that this doesn't mean they're actually in compliance with the emissions limits (IIRC the EU test procedure is hilariously lax,) only that they didn't deliberately circumvent the emissions controls on their cars like VW did. They may still be found to emit more than the regulations allow.

  • Wmba Wmba on Jan 15, 2016

    "The ECU programming would supposedly underdose AdBlue — the NOx-fighting diesel emissions fluid — during most operational scenarios. It’s that underdosing, he claimed, that’s the cause of the excessive NOx emissions in Volkswagen’s diesel vehicles." Except of course, VW didn't use AdBlue/SCR on TDI Golfs and Jettas from 2009 to 2014. They used a lean NOx trap instead, which is what baffled all the other manufacturers who couldn't get such a configuration to work, wonder why. A lean NOx trap is cheap compared to SCR, which is why VW used it and saved billions by jimmying the ECU instead. In North America, the 2015 Golfs and Jettas finally got AdBlue (VW didn't bother giving Europe the same - why try to do a halfway decent job?). So I don't get what that German hacker was trying to get at - he doesn't seem to know his facts. When VW began pumping out TDI Passats in Chatanooga in 2012, they did use AdBlue/SCR. The reason given was that there was room for it in the bigger car, and they claimed better mileage for it than the Jetta. All a matter of record. Then came the Mk7 Golf as a 2015 model, and all of a sudden, it gets Adblue/SCR, presumably because they made space for it in the redesign and the upcoming new regs required it to pass the NOx limits for sure, at least under official test, ha,ha. When EPA checked the 2016 models after the researchers from Univ of West Virginia found problems with older TDI's, the brand new 2016 Golf TDI's sitting on a New Jersey dock were impounded and not allowed into the USA for sale. Same with Passats from Chatanooga and Jettas from Mexico. And that's where it stands. The 2009 to 2014 Golfs and Jettas didn't even have AdBlue to begin with. Their fix may be economically impossible. The 2015's did have AdBlue. All they need is an ECU update to actually spray enough AdBlue, because that system, properly dosed, is about 99% effective at getting rid of NOx. Highway rigs use it - it's worth reading webpages from Cummins, Volvo and Mercedes with regard to their giant 11 to 15 liter turbodiesel engines. The V6 VW engines always used Adblue. So all they need to do is implement correct dosing - an ECU update. In the UK Wednesday, the head of VW there managed to also get the CO2 versus NOx thing confused at a Parliamentary hearing - I think on purpose. VW is using every bulls*it tactic they can to confuse techno-dimwits like elected reps. Muller wandering around the US this week is also a liar and examplar. I regard VW management as corrupt. Unluckily for them, EPA and CARB are not confused by German BS. Say what you will about them, and all the wacko anti-government horse manure I read here from people who haven't taken the time to understand the situation, but have opinions anyway which are of zero import, their US bureaucracy appears to be the only one actually onto the VW BS, whining and misdirection. I hope they hose those effers down until they squeak in pain, for they have shown no sign of ethics whatsoever, either to their customers or society.

  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
  • Lou_BC "That’s expensive for a midsize pickup" All of the "offroad" midsize trucks fall in that 65k USD range. The ZR2 is probably the cheapest ( without Bison option).