In the wake of Volkswagen’s massive diesel emissions cheating scandal, every carmaker is under increased scrutiny with regulators around the world. One of those is Renault, which has denied violating EU emissions regulations with its popular Espace minivan.
Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), or the German Environmental Aid Association in English, claims that the Espace releases NOx emissions 25 times over the legal limit, even as the car successfully complies with regulations. How's that work? DUH believes that EU tests are carried out at low engine temperatures, reducing emissions.
What's key here is that DUH isn't coming out and saying that Renault is cheating its way through the regulations (like Volkswagen did). Instead, it's looking to call attention to what it sees as inadequate emissions testing. Renault, for its part, vigorously denies any wrongdoing and says its car "complies with all applicable regulations."
Renault denies any wrongdoing
Renault and other carmakers (except Volkswagen, obviously) are designing their cars to get right up to the legal limit on emissions, but not go over — which is exactly what we'd expect them to do. They're going to push things as far as they can, because reducing emissions either makes the cars more expensive, reduces performance, or both.
What the environmental group really wants is for the EU to tighten up its regulations, and for car companies to then abide by them. Everyone involved is doing an elaborate public relations tap dance to advance their agenda. In this case, it appears Renault isn't actually doing anything illegal, it just isn't as green as DUH would like it to be.