Renault shares plunge after offices raided in emissions probe

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Shares in carmaker Renault plunged 20% after French anti-fraud investigators raided several production sites as part of their investigation into faked emissions tests.

The share-price fall wiped more than €2 billion (£1.51 billion) off the value of the car giant.

Renault confirmed the raids and said it was co-operating with the investigation. The company said raids had taken place at Lardy, Guyancourt and its headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt, with computers seized and later handed back.

It said its own tests had shown no signs of cheat software. 

Just over 75,000 Renaults were bought by drivers in the UK last year but the total number in the country is far more than that. 

Renault union officials said the raids took place last week and targeted sites’ engine-control units, suggesting they were “linked to the consequences of the Volkswagen rigged engines affair”.

Carmakers have been under scrutiny since September when US regulators first revealed VW cheated to make its diesel-driven vehicles appear to create less pollution than they really did.

The German car firm was thrown into a crisis. Chief executive Martin Winterkorn was forced to resign and the company set aside €6.7 billion to fix up to 11 million cars worldwide, of which 1.2 million are in the UK. 

French authorities began a probe into the country’s own car industry in September last year. 

“Agents from the [anti-fraud unit] DGCCRF intervened in various Renault sites last Thursday,” the CGT Renault union said. “They took the personal computers of several directors. We yesterday questioned management about this but received no reply.”

In the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, Renault said last month it would invest  50 million to bring the emissions of its cars into line with those measured in official test conditions.

Rival Peugeot said in October that it had never used emissions-cheating software, as Volkswagen admitted that it had been doing. Peugeot shares fell 6%, BMW 4% and VW 4% on today’s raids.

“VW was the tip of the iceberg. This is an industry-wide problem.”

Nico Muzi, Transport & Environment research group

Some experts have long predicted VW would not be the only company to become engulfed in the emissions-rigging scandal.

Nico Muzi, spokesman for the Transport & Environment research group, said: “I’m afraid if Renault is found to be involved, it would not be a surprise. We have been saying VW was the tip of the iceberg for a long time. This is an industry-wide problem.

For a very long time there has been a widening of the gap between the real-world emissions we measured and the ones companies claim in their brochures.”

Source Article from http://www.standard.co.uk/business/renault-shares-plunge-after-offices-raided-in-emissions-probe-a3156656.html

January 15, 2016 |
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