French investigators charged Stellantis's Peugeot subsidiary over allegedly defrauding consumers with diesel engines in a broadening crackdown on automakers that has already ensnared Renault and Volkswagen.
Peugeot, which became part of Stellantis when PSA Group merged with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles early this year, must pay 10 million euros ($12 million) bail and provide a 30 million-euro bank guarantee, according to a Stellantis statement on Wednesday.
The company said it is in the process of assessing its defense options and that its Citroen and Fiat Chrysler subsidiaries also have been summoned before a Paris court.
The disclosure follows VW and Renault's announcements this week of charges over similar accusations. The French charges spring from a judicial investigation opened in early 2017, days after VW settled criminal and civil complaints with the U.S. related to its use of illegal devices to circumvent emissions tests with diesel vehicles.
The allegations against Stellantis could prove a further distraction from efforts by CEO Carlos Tavares to integrate PSA and Fiat into one of the top global automakers. Since the two combined in January, he has had to deal with the global semiconductor supply crisis impeding production across the industry.
In France, investigative magistrates can charge companies or individuals when there are "serious or consistent" clues showing likely involvement. They can then decide whether to refer a case to trial but are not involved after that stage.