PARIS (Bloomberg) -- Renault is recalling 15,800 Captur SUVs to fix pollution-control systems and will offer voluntary emissions-system updates for about 700,000 vehicles as the automaker seeks to avoid a Volkswagen-type crisis.
The recall will probably be limited to the 110-hp diesel version of the Captur subcompact crossover, the company said.
Renault will also offer an engine software patch to owners of about 700,000 diesel vehicles to reduce NOx emissions. The engine adjustments will be available for vehicles with the latest Euro 6 generation of diesel engines, the automaker's chief competitive officer, Thierry Bollore, told reporters in a briefing today at Renault's headquarters west of Paris.
"We are not cheating, we are meeting the norms, and we are not trying to trick the consumer," Bollore said.
French newspaper Les Echos reported on Saturday that Renault, Ford and Mercedes-Benz had come under the scrutiny of the government after real-world NOx emissions in some of their diesel models were shown to far exceed laboratory tests. The Captur, Espace minivan and an unnamed utility vehicle had emissions way above official limits, Les Echos said.
German green group DUH said in November that the Espace had released NOx emissions 25 times over EU limits during a Swiss study using driving styles that are more realistic than the European Union test cycle.
'Room for improvement'
"We agree that our position is not satisfactory," Bollore said, while disputing many of the reported measurements. "We are the first ones to admit that we have room for improvement."
Renault will detail the planned adjustments in March for vehicles with Euro 6-compliant diesel engines and begin offering voluntary engine checks to owners four months later.
Based on current production levels, the approximate number of vehicles eligible for checks could approach 700,000, Renault said, but the total ultimately affected and brought in to dealerships is bound to be much lower. No firm estimates have yet been made, the company said.
Software tweaks can be "flashed" to a vehicle during a routine oil change or servicing visit, at minimal extra cost.
Bollore, second-in-command at Renault to CEO Carlos Ghosn, had already announced last month that the automaker was stepping up investment to improve its NOx emissions performance. The company has earmarked 50 million euros ($54 million) to upgrade its current diesels, while accelerating the 1.2 billion euro development of their next generation - dubbed Euro 6D - from five years to three.
VW prompted probe
The French government started an investigation into diesel cars in September after VW admitted to rigging emissions tests with manipulated software on up to 11 million diesels sold worldwide.
The probe involved testing 100 randomly chosen vehicles from all major automotive brands to compare on-the-road emissions with regulatory test-bench scores and it included 25 Renault cars. Renault said the rest of the tests will not result in more recalls of its vehicles.
Renault has lost 3.3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) in market value since revealing last Thursday that fraud investigators had inspected three of its sites in France as part of the government probe.
Fixing the filters in the Captur will take about half a day per engine. The faulty filters turned on between 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and 35 Celsius. European tests for engine emissions are run at temperatures of 20 C to 30 C. Average real-world temperatures in Paris are much lower, however. Daytime average highs there exceed 17 C only between May and September.
Reuters and Automotive News Europe contributed to this report