Credit: eutrophication&ampersand/Flickr

Carlos Ghosn defends Renault against emissions claims

UPDATE: Everyone does it, and it's all about electric cars anyway, says the boss of the French car giant.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 24 Mar 2016

Renault boss Carlos Ghosn has dismissed suggestions that his company has done anything wrong with emissions testing. ‘You can say that anyone is cheating,’ he told analysts after revealing Renault’s 10% rise in full-year revenue. ‘Test any other car, you will find this kind of things.’

Ever since VW became embroiled in the emissions scandal, there have been fears other carmakers could be hauled along for the ride. All eyes have been on Renault since its offices were raided by the French fraud squad in January, which sent shares down 22% in one morning, and was followed by the recall of 15,000 cars.

No one is saying Renault deliberately faked any test results. Rather, the French allege that the particulate filters in some its diesel engines aren’t effective when the car is too hot or too cold (consider them the Goldilocks of emissions limiting devices).

Ghosn’s point is that they and everyone else have simply been operating within EU regulations, which unlike America’s rules about Nitrous Oxides do not require cars to perform as well in the real world as they do in the lab. Firms will work within the limits they are given, up to the limits they are given – hence particulate filters that only work properly in unrealistic conditions.

‘Everyone does it’ isn’t really the best of excuses, and ‘technically we didn’t break any rules’ isn’t much better. But on the other hand, it is unrealistic to expect companies to impose on themselves stricter rules than are required.

Indeed, Ghosn questioned what would be the benefit to the consumer of such an action. Rather, everyone’s better off if companies like Renault spend more time and money on the greatest emission limiting device of all – the electric car, a technology in which Ghosn said Renault  was ‘a leader’ (one wonders what Elon Musk has to say about that).

He may be right, but until the day we all get to work in zero-emission driverless cars (hailed through Uber, naturally – well, except in France), consumers will care about emissions, and about honesty. Renault’s engines may not emit the carbon dioxide on a typical Parisian street as they say they do in a lab, but at least Ghosn is being honest about that. 

Additional reporting by Jack Torrance.

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