PARIS/STRASBOURG, France Nov 24 France will
seek more information from criminal investigations into Renault
and Volkswagen diesel emissions before
deciding whether to ban any of their cars from sale, Environment
Minister Segolene Royal said on Thursday.
Speaking to European parliamentarians in Strasbourg, the
French minister also said an examination of Renault engine
software was underway, with initial findings due next month.
"We will be asking the consumer fraud investigators and
prosecutors to communicate any findings that will enable us to
establish whether it's necessary to withdraw sales
authorisations," Royal said.
Following VW's exposure for using software to cheat U.S.
tests, Renault and others have attracted scrutiny for their own
use of "defeat devices" that reduce the effectiveness of
technology to filter toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) from exhaust.
A Renault spokesman declined to comment.
VW and Renault face French criminal probes based on
suspicions outlined to prosecutors by the DGCCRF consumer fraud
agency that they had broken emissions laws.
Public energy research agency IFPEN is still examining
Renault engine software, Royal said. "It's underway and will be
published. We'll have the first results in December."
Many carmakers including Renault, Opel and Fiat
use engine software to reduce the effectiveness of
their anti-NOx technology outside certain conditions and
Expert opinions differ as to whether such software is legal
under EU law, which allows defeat devices when deemed necessary
to protect the engine.
Some national authorities including Germany have said the
law is too vague to allow proper policing of defeat devices, but
Royal called EU law "perfectly clear".
Royal said the French criminal probe is also looking into
separate concerns over Renault's Captur mini-SUV, when asked
about reports that some investigators believed its test findings
indicated another type of defeat device.
"The consumer fraud directorate has alerted the prosecutor,"
Royal said. "So clearly we have taken action over this
(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels and Laurence
Frost in Paris, editing by David Evans)