Renault is fully cooperating with the police and adds it does not use devices in its vehicles that cheat emissions tests; the French Agency for Energy and Climate has, says the carmaker, already stated it does not expect to find a defeat device on Renault vehicles.
The firm has since added that the three on-site investigations were to “definitively confirm the first findings resulting from the analysis of the independent technical commission”.
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French union CGT Renault first revealed news of the raids which were carried out last week; it says investigations were focused on vehicle electronic control units (ECUs).
“There were searches at several Renault sites by fraud investigators,” CGT union official Florent Grimaldi told Reuters.
“Management has not confirmed that it is about NOx emissions, but given the sectors that were inspected we think that it could be linked.”
The union was alerted to the raids after reports from shop floor members at Renault. There are reports that management computers have also been seized by police.
Renault shares plummet
Early trading saw Renault shares plunge almost 20% as news of the raids emerged; this wiped €5 billion off the market value of the company.
Joshua Raymond CFD and FX broker at online trading firm XTB.com explained more: “Shares in Renault collapsed 19% today after a report from Agence France-Presse said that some of its computers had been seized by French police, a move being linked to a possible new emissions scandal.
“The reaction in its share price is one of shareholder panic, pure and simple. That’s why its share price fell 19% within just 60 minutes of trading in the mid-morning session.”
Investors, he said, are downsizing their positions to mitigate the risks should rumours be proven correct.
And if Renault is guilty of emissions manipulation? “The news could be simply awful for the car maker” said Raymond, “especially having seen its own share price recover strongly in the past four months and of course would spell a new phase of contagion in the growing emissions scandal.
“Shareholders of all carmarkers would inevitably be asking themselves, who’s next?”