French justice has stepped on the accelerator in the so-called dieselgate case. This week there have been cascading indictments for “fraud” against Volkswagen, Renault and now Peugeot, for the alleged use of programs to cover up the polluting emissions of some diesel engines of previous generations, which in the case of the German company it has already led him to pay multimillion-dollar penalties in other countries. Despite claims that they have done nothing wrong – or in the case of the German giant, which has already paid for it – the case promises to continue to cause concern among the greats of the European automobile: as recognized by Stellantis – the merger of PSA and FCA consummated earlier this year — two other company brands, Fiat and Citroën, will imminently receive their own summons before the Paris court handling the case.
The latest accusation was released by Stellantis herself. In a statement, the group that brings together emblematic brands such as Peugeot, Fiat, Citroën, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Opel, Jeep or Chrysler, announced around midnight from Wednesday to Thursday that the French examining judges have imputed the lion brand for “Allegations of fraud on the sale of Euro 5 diesel vehicles that took place in France between 2009 and 2015”. According to the Agence France Presse, a judicial source has confirmed the accusation for “fraud that entails a danger to human or animal health.”
At the same time, Stellantis reveals that he has had to post a bond of 10 million euros – 8 million for the potential payment of damages and fines and another two for possible costs of representation in court – and present a bank guarantee of 30 million for if I had to pay compensation.
Although she has shown herself willing to cooperate with justice, Stellantis has announced that she will study appealing this monetary imposition and that she rejects the charges. “The companies firmly believe that their emission control systems met all applicable requirements at that time and continue to believe it, and eagerly await the opportunity to prove it,” underlines the statement, in which it also considers that the imputation will allow Stellantis access the case file to better defend yourself.
Stellantis’ imputation is known a day after Renault received the same notification and the imposition, in this case, of a deposit of 20 million euros and a bank guarantee for 60 million more. The Gauls categorically reject “having committed the least infraction” and assure that their cars “are not equipped with fraud software” to hide emissions. “Renault has always respected French and European legislation. Renault vehicles have all been homologated, always, in accordance with the law and regulations in force at the time ”, he underlines.
Although the original indictment, against the German group Volkswagen, dates from the beginning of May, the company at the origin of the dieselgate It has only confirmed the French notification this week, after Renault first and Stellantis later announced their respective indictments. In a statement, Volkswagen nevertheless recalls that it has already paid a heavy penalty – in 2018 a German court forced it to pay a fine of one billion euros – for events that “included vehicles marketed in France.” Beyond the fact that the company insists that the payment of the fine “does not imply any recognition of the alleged facts or its responsibility,” it emphasizes that the French case should be rejected because it would entail a double sentence for the same facts, something that the law.
The dieselgate, which has triggered legal action in many countries, has already cost Volkswagen 30 billion euros ($ 36.5 billion), largely in the United States, where the German group pleaded guilty to fraud in 2017, recalls AFP. In 2015, Volkswagen acknowledged having equipped 11 million of its diesel vehicles with software capable of hiding emissions that sometimes exceed 40 times the authorized standards. Since then, diesel car sales have plummeted.
Just over a year ago, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) opened the door to possible lawsuits in different countries by ruling that a car manufacturer whose illegally manipulated vehicles are resold in other Member States “can be sued before the jurisdictional bodies of said States ”. On May 7, a day after Volkswagen’s indictment by the Parisian court, the appeal court of Pau, in the south of France, sentenced the French subsidiary of Volkswagen to compensate a driver of a vehicle with 4,000 euros of the German brand affected by the dieselgate, in what was the first sentence against the German giant in the country.