Automobile manufacturer Renault is in the spotlight in Holland as Dutch foundation Car Claim Foundation summoned the carmaker and a class-action lawsuit was filed. The case was brought to court in November 2021 for Renault’s alleged use of defeat devices to cheat emissions tests.
The lawsuit is worth between €450 million (or over £400 million) and €1 billion (approximately £887 million). The overall estimated cost is equivalent to over £1.2 billion (depending on current exchange rates).
According to the case document, between the years 2009 and 2019, Renault manufactured over 150,000 vehicles that were allegedly equipped with the cheat device. The 1.5-litre dCi is specifically mentioned in the lawsuit.
Renault issued a statement that said Car Claim Foundation’s allegations of illegal software use were unfounded. They did not install their vehicles with cheat software. The carmaker specified that their 1.5 dCi-powered vehicles followed emissions laws. However, investigators remained persistent.
Earlier in 2021, French investigators allegedly discovered how the carmaker’s officials falsified emissions tests for more or less 25 years – by employing fraudulent strategies. Emissions deception charges were filed against the carmaker in June 2021.
The millions of affected vehicles were marketed and sold in the Netherlands.
Why is a defeat device illegal?
The devices that Renault allegedly installed in their 1.5 dCi-powered vehicles released around 16 times more than the legal levels of NOx or nitrogen oxides when driven in normal road conditions. The carmaker did not notify their customers. Instead, they allowed their customers to purchase vehicles worth premium prices even if the products allegedly disregarded emissions regulations and were a danger to the environment, the driver, and the entire Dutch population.
Renault’s case is similar to that of the Volkswagen Group when it figured in the highly controversial Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal in September 2015. The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA in the US issued a Notice of Violation to the VW Group for their alleged use of defeat devices in Audi and VW vehicles. EPA indicated how the carmaker’s TDI-powered vehicles turned off emissions controls when driving on real roads. This resulted in NOx emissions that were 40 times over the federal law limits.
VW admitted their violation and authorities ordered them to recall the hundreds of thousands of affected vehicles spread across the US. Volkswagen has been paying off fines, fees, and compensation since then.
NOx emissions are harmful to the environment. They can destroy human lives as well. NOx has nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and when they combine with VOCs or volatile organic compounds, they produce smog. When they mix with other compounds, including ammonium, nitrogen oxides create acid rain. They are also responsible for the formation of ground-level ozone, a pollutant that destroys vegetation.
NOx emissions have adverse impacts on human health, such as:
- Pulmonary oedema
- Vocal cords spasm
- Chronic reduction of lung function
- Cardiovascular diseases
In some cases, NOx can trigger depression and anxiety even in individuals who haven’t experienced such issues in the past. An exposed person’s cognitive health may also decline, making them vulnerable to dementia.
The biggest, most devastating impact of exposure to NOx is premature death. This brings to mind the case of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, the UK’s first official case of death due to air pollution. Ella lived in one of the most polluted areas of south London. She was exposed to high levels of toxic emissions every day. Since her death, thousands of similar cases have been reported year after year. NOx, and air pollution in general, has now become the primary cause of premature deaths worldwide.
Aside from the Volkswagen Group and Renault, other carmakers have also been – and continue to be – implicated in the diesel emissions scandal. Mercedes-Benz received a Notice of Violation a few years after the VW scandal. Another German carmaker, BMW, has also been under the authorities’ radar for years because of alleged defeat device use.
British carmaker Vauxhall is one of the newest additions to the list of defeat device-using carmakers. Although Vauxhall emissions claim cases are still quite new, the carmaker has had to recall thousands of affected vehicles to adhere to authorities’ orders. The KBA or German Federal Motor Transport Authority discovered the defeat devices in some of the carmaker’s diesel models.
How does a defeat device work?
When a defeat device senses that a vehicle is in testing, it immediately lowers emissions to levels that are within the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regulated limits. However, since the device illegally manipulates the emissions controls, the vehicle appears clean and safe only when under testing conditions.
Once the vehicle is back on real roads, it emits unlawful and destructive levels of nitrogen oxides. VW, BMW, Mercedes, and Vauxhall cheated on and lied to their customers. Thus, they have contributed to air pollution many times over.
Authorities have reasons to believe that carmakers should be held responsible for their illegal actions. Affected car owners are urged to file a diesel claim or join a GLO (group litigation order).
To start your diesel claim
To find out if you are liable to file a diesel claim, go to ClaimExperts.co.uk. They have all the information you need to start your emission claim. You need to act now before more drivers like you are deceived by Vauxhall and other defeat device-using carmakers.