Volkswagen's admission that some of its diesel vehicles were
fitted with devices which hid their true level of emissions has
sparked a global regulatory push to combat excessive pollution
and intense scrutiny of the carmakers.
Shares in Renault fell more than 4 percent to their lowest level
in around a month after a source at the Paris prosecutor's
office said it had launched a judicial investigation into
possible cheating on exhaust emissions at the French carmaker.
Renault was not immediately available for comment. Its shares
later recovered some ground, but still underperformed a positive
pan-European STOXX Europe Autos index.
The French clampdown follows allegations by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday that Fiat
Chrysler, like Volkswagen, was using illegal software to hide
excess diesel emissions.
The European Commission said it had been informed about the
"worrying" EPA allegations and would look at what implications
they might have for the European Union.
“We will now work with the EPA, national member state
authorities and of course Fiat in order to establish potential
implications for vehicles sold in the EU,” it said.
The European Commission has limited powers to force polluting
cars off European roads, since vehicle licensing in the EU is
still conducted on a national level.
Britain said it was urgently seeking information from the EPA
over its allegation that Fiat Chrysler used hidden software to
allow excess diesel emissions to go undetected.
"We are urgently seeking further information from the US
Environmental Protection Agency... and will also be seeking
information from the manufacturer regarding vehicles in the UK
market," a spokesman at the Department for Transport said.
Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne angrily rejected
the allegations on Thursday, saying there was no wrongdoing and
Fiat never attempted to cheat emissions rules with software
detecting a vehicle was in test mode.
Fiat's volatile shares surged 7 percent in Europe, after falling
sharply in U.S. trading on Thursday, and were trading 3.5
percent higher at 1140 GMT.
The automaker's stock has risen by around 70 percent this year
since Donald Trump's election, on expectations of less stringent
emissions policies under the next U.S. administration.
But carmakers continue to face scrutiny in Europe. Earlier this
week the European Commission called on Italy to cooperate with a
German probe investigating allegations that the Fiat 500X, Fiat
Doblo and Jeep Renegade models were equipped with illegal
cheating software. Fiat rejects the allegations.
Germany's motor vehicle authority KBA began testing the vehicles
of several foreign manufacturers as part of a blanket probe of
vehicle emissions after the Volkswagen scandal first came to
And the country's transport ministry asked the European
Commission to investigate Fiat's emissions after being
stonewalled by Italian authorities.
(Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels and
Costas Pitas in London; Writing by Edward Taylor; Editing by
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