Renault Plans Recall, Diesel Upgrades to Quell Emissions Storm

Renault Plans Recall, Should Investors Be Worried?
  • `We're not cheating' on emissions, Renault's Bollore says
  • Emissions upgrades are for customers who want improvements

Renault SA will recall 15,800 vehicles and make upgraded emissions systems available to about 700,000 customers to quell a storm that emerged last week over concerns about VW-style deceit.

The carmaker has lost more than 3 billion euros ($3.26 billion) in market value since it became public that three sites in France were searched by government fraud investigators on Jan. 7. The probe, which started in the wake of Volkswagen AG’s cheating on diesel-emission tests, involves checking 100 randomly chosen vehicles, including 25 Renault cars. France’s investigation is part of intensified scrutiny of the auto industry as the gap between official lab tests and real-world emissions widens.

“We’re not cheating,” Renault Chief Competition Officer Thierry Bolloretold reporters on Tuesday. “We are meeting the norms, and we are not trying to trick the consumer.”

As France continues the probe, Renault said the remaining tests won’t result in more recalls. Last year, the company delivered about 607,000 vehicles in France, or 22 percent of its global sales. Renault shares rose 1.5 percent to 75.30 euros at 3:23 p.m. in Paris.

Captur Recall

Renault isn’t the only carmaker targeted. Other brands have also exceeded emissions limits and have been summoned by the government, French Environment Minister Segolene Royal said in an interview with RTL Radio, declining to name them. 

Renault’s recall, which started last month, focuses on the 110-horsepower diesel version of the Captur small sport utility vehicle. Production of the model began in July, and the problem was detected in September, at which point it was fixed, Renault executives said. Repairing the emissions system will take about half a day per vehicle.

The faulty filter systems are activated only in temperatures between 17 degrees and 35 degrees Celsius (63 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit). European tests for engine emissions are conducted within that range, though average temperatures in Paris are generally lower. Daytime average highs in the French capital exceed 17 degrees Celsius only between May and September.

“We urgently need to have a new test method to bridge the gap between the current laboratory testing of pollutant emissions, as defined by law, and the very different conditions experienced on the road,” Erik Jonnaert, secretary general of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, said in a statement. The industry needs new testing rules “to restore the confidence of consumers and legislators.”

The upgrade offer that will be extended to diesel owners this summer is voluntary and for customers that want improved performance of systems that control emissions of smog-inducing nitrogen oxides, the company said.

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