The “Dieselgate” scandal expands in France… 4 companies accused of “deception”


  The investigation concerns about 900,000 Renault cars (AFP)</p><div><p>With four giant auto groups indicted in scandal '<a target="_blank" href="" rel="noopener">diesel gate</a>', can millions of <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noopener">Car owners</a> In France, compensation is claimed, but it is still difficult to estimate the potential bill for it.

After accusations from the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2015, Volkswagen admitted supplying 11 million cars with software capable of making them appear less polluting during lab tests.

After five years of investigation in France, this week the groups “Volkswagen”, “Renault”, “Peugeot” and “Citroen” were charged with “deception regarding goods dangerous to human or animal health”. An indictment against Fiat Chrysler will be considered in early July.

This paves the way for a possible trial in France, with manufacturers potentially being fined billions, as well as compensating owners of vehicles whose value depreciated after the scandal broke in September 2015.

“In the event of a criminal prosecution, all buyers of new models of these brands can become a civil party” and seek compensation, said Raphael Bartolome, of consumer advocacy agency UVC-Co Choisier.

However, Renault, Volkswagen and Stellants, the new parent company of Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat Chrysler, consider that they have done nothing.

camouflaged emissions
A panel of experts appointed in France after the 2015 scandal revealed “paradoxes” in the emissions of cars from several brands.

At the end of 2016, the General Directorate of Competition, Consumer Affairs and Anti-Fraud revealed differences of up to 377 percent between the performance of some Renault diesel models when tested in the laboratory and when used in real conditions.

This includes hundreds of thousands of vehicles in France: more than 950,000 Volkswagen and 900,000 Renault vehicles, and 1.9 million Peugeot and Citroen vehicles sold between September 2009 and September 2015, according to the department.

A member of the expert committee, Bertrand Olivier Decroux, told the French newspaper, Les Echos, that “all manufacturers have used pollution control systems that stop working in certain temperature or speed conditions.”

The fine will be 1.68 billion euros, equivalent to 10 percent of the turnover related to 900,000 diesel cars

“The difficulties faced by the judiciary are related to establishing the intent to defraud during the issuance of certificates” about the level of emissions, the expert added.

For his part, Gilles LeBourne, director of engineering at Renault, said on Tuesday that “there have never been any cheating programs in Renault engines.” “The pollution control systems have been calibrated in order to keep the technology and people safe,” the engineer added. He added that the differences in emissions are “neither new nor surprising”, and are consistent with the old standard for measuring emissions.

deterrent penalties
After being prevalent in Europe during the first decade of the twenty-first century, diesel declined due to the scandal, as its market share collapsed in favor of gasoline and then hybrid and electric cars.

The offense of “deception regarding dangerous goods” is punishable by a fine of 750,000 euros. Fines can be increased to 10% of the annual transaction number “in proportion to the interest derived from the violation.”

Based on the total annual transaction volume, the Directorate General of Competition, Consumer Affairs and Anti-Fraud estimated the maximum fines at €5 billion for BSI and €3.58 billion for Renault.

However, the fine is expected to be much less, and it will be determined “in a manner proportionate to the benefits derived from deception” in accordance with the applicable texts. For Renault, this means that the fine will be 1.68 billion euros; This is equivalent to 10% of the transaction volume related to 900,000 diesel cars, and not 10% of the group’s total turnover.

“We believe that there should be deterrent penalties, criminal penalties in the form of fines, or even other penalties, while at the same time compensating the damages caused to the owners of the vehicles,” the lawyer for about 100 of the plaintiffs in the case, Francois Laforge, told France Info radio on Wednesday.

In France, Volkswagen was first asked, in April, to pay €4,000 in compensation to the owner of one of the cars in question; That is about 15% of the purchase price.

The question is which of the other owners, and from which brands, will be able to claim compensation on the basis that their vehicles do not meet the advertised specifications, and how many will be.

(France Brush)


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