Renault promises plan to cut emissions levels

18th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

French carmaker Renault on Monday promised to come up with a "technical plan" over coming weeks to bring down harmful emissions from its vehicles.

On Thursday, a government-appointed commission said that Renault's diesel cars failed pollution tests and investigators raided its facilities, raising fears the French carmaker could be caught up in an emissions scandal similar to the one engulfing Volkswagen, which has admitted to using cheating software to fool pollution test detectors.

The commission has so far tested vehicles from a total of eight foreign and French brands, finding carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen dioxide emissions (NOx) from Renault cars to be too high, as well as those in some non-French models.

"We are working on a technical plan which should allow us to cut emissions," Renault sales director Thierry Koskas said during a presentation on the group's 2015 sales performance at which the company reported unit sales growing 3.3 percent from 2014 to 2.8 million units worldwide.

"The plan is being elaborated by our engineering team and will be presented in coming weeks," he added.

"Renault did not cheat," Koskas said, referring to questions raised last week over how emissions levels could be so different between test conditions and real conditions on the road.

"I want to restate this very firmly," he said. "We are not using any software or other (fraudulent) methods."

"In test conditions, we respect emissions norms," he said.

"But when we are no longer in test conditions, there is indeed a difference between real conditions and control conditions, that is a fact," said.

- 'Frightening' pollution levels -

He gave no details of what the "technical plan" may entail, but said that Renault would be meeting with the government-appointed commission later on Monday for "technical discussions".

Renault currently uses technology called NOx absorber, or NOx trap, which is cheaper and simpler than a rival system called selective catalytic reduction (SCR), but also less efficient.

Renault already announced in December that it would spend 50 million euros ($54 million) on emissions reduction, after German consumer body Umwelthilfe found what it called "frightening" pollution levels when testing a Renault Espace Diesel model.

Shares in Renault and other car companies skidded last week amid fears that the emissions scandal engulfing Volkswagen may be spreading sector-wide.

Renault stocks slumped by more than 20 percent during Thursday's session after unions reported that anti-fraud investigators had raided several of the company's sites, possibly looking for emissions cheating software on diesel engines, before closing around 10 percent lower. On Friday, they lost another 3.4 percent.

On Monday, the stock was down again, by 1.7 percent at 73.82 euros. Over three trading sessions the company's market value has shrunk by about 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion).

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© 2016 AFP

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