PSA Group Raided by French Fraud Office in Emissions Probe

  • French carmaker says it's cooperating fully with investigation
  • Government expands Volkswagen probe that started in September

PSA Group premises in France were searched by government fraud investigators as part of an broader probe into vehicle emissions, with the scrutiny sending its shares down as much as 4.5 percent.

The Paris-based maker of Peugeot, Citroen and DS cars said in a statement that it is cooperating fully with the inquiry. The French Economy Ministry’s fraud office said it searched five premises following “anomalies” in emissions tests.

“It was unexpected, a total surprise,” a company spokesman said by phone Thursday. Peugeot’s shares fell to as low as 13.47 euros and traded down 3.9 percent at 13.55 euros as 11:00 a.m. in Paris.

PSA sites in Saint-Ouen, Velizy, La Garenne-Colombes, Carrieres-sous-Poissy and Montbeliard were raided Thursday after irregularities were spotted in the nitrogen-oxide emissions of three diesel vehicles. The probe, which has been looking at carmakers that sell vehicles in France since September, is open and ongoing, a spokeswoman for the fraud body said Friday by phone.

Renault Raid

Automakers have been under increased scrutiny since Volkswagen AG admitted to cheating on emissions tests for years, sparking lawsuits by the U.S. Department of Justice as well as investigations in at least seven countries. Daimler AG started an internal investigation into its emissions certification process after a request from U.S. authorities, and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. admitted this week that it manipulated fuel-economy tests.

In France, Renault SA was the target of a similar raid in January. The fraud authority had said in March that no evidence of cheating had so far been found. It declined on Friday to comment on the status of the investigation.

French authorities started the probe into whether VW deceived customers about the emissions levels of its diesel cars and promised to expand the investigation to cover all carmakers. Separately, the country’s environmental minister began randomly testing vehicles to check differences between lab results and real-world emissions.

Gilles Le Borgne, PSA’s head of research and development, and Christian Chapelle, the company’s head of drivetrains and chassis, will testify on April 28 at a hearing of a French government committee appointed to look into car emissions.

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