Renault Recalls 15,800 Diesels But Swears It Wasn't Cheating Like Volkswagen

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Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Renault Mired In Diesel Scandal Too

Renault’s shares have tumbled since investigators raided three of the French automaker’s sites on the heels of tests that revealed diesel NOx emissions in lab tests were far lower than in real world conditions. Sound familiar?


In an attempt to avoid a Dieselgate situation of its own, Renault is recalling 15,800 Captur diesel crossovers and will offer software fixes for some 700,000 other cars. But the automaker swears it wasn’t cheating, reports Automotive News Europe:

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.


2nd Gear: Meanwhile, At Opel...

A journalist from Belgian broadcaster VRT reported, via hidden camera when he got his diesel Opel Zafira serviced, that General Motors’ European division has also been modifying diesels via software updates to meet emissions standards as well. GM has rejected these allegations, reports the Financial Times:

The Germany-based manufacturer said: “Opel clearly rejects the claim of VRT News that Opel dealers have been modifying software in the Zafira Tourer 1.6 [litre] diesel which changes the emission behavior [sic] of these vehicles. The mentioned service update . . . has nothing to do with changing emission levels.”

[...] Opel said the fix was related to a diesel exhaust fluid controller sending out the wrong signals, falsely illuminating a warning light. Only 309 vehicles in Belgium were affected by the service update, it added.

3rd Gear: GM Buys Sidecar’s Corpse

As it prepares to shift into new mobility solutions with a $500 million investment in ridesharing service Lyft, GM has also bought up the assets of failed competitor Sidecar on the cheap, reports Bloomberg. Also, GM’s service has a name now: Maven.

GM is preparing to introduce its own set of transportation services, which it has dubbed Maven, the source familiar with the matter said. The initiative may allow owners of GM vehicles to give rides to other passengers who are commuting in the same direction. GM President Ammann will take charge charge of Maven, this person said.

GM filed to trademark the Maven name on Nov. 25, 2015. The application, filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, described “Application software for connecting vehicle drivers and passengers and for coordinating transportation services; software for use in planning, monitoring and controlling urban transportation.”


4th Gear: Automakers Want In To Iran Now

With many of the sanctions lifted against Iran, automakers—especially luxury ones—see tremendous potential in the market, reports Reuters:

Audi (VOWG_p.DE) is gauging its first-ever entry into the Iranian auto market where the German firm sees “growing potential” for luxury cars after world powers lifted international sanctions.

German companies may be able to export goods worth 10 billion euros ($10.9 billion) to Iran as the Islamic Republic is opening up as a market following years of economic isolation, Germany’s DIHK Chamber of Commerce and Industry said.

Representatives of the Volkswagen-owned brand are currently in Iran for talks with possible importers to examine the prospects for business, a spokeswoman at Ingolstadt-based Audi said on Monday, without being more specific.


5th Gear: Obama In Detroit

President Obama this week is set to visit Detroit, and the auto show in particular. I wish we were still there, he could have stopped by our van. From The Detroit News:

Obama plans to highlight the revival of the city and the 640,000 auto-industry jobs created since the $85 billion bailout.

It will be Obama’s first visit to the North American International Auto Show and 17th trip to Michigan since taking office.

In an address earlier this month, Obama noted the Metro Detroit unemployment rate has been cut by more than half, the Big Three automakers are raising wages and the auto industry had a record sales year in 2015.


Reverse: Drive-In


Neutral: Where Does Dieselgate Go From Here?

Who’s next, what’s next, especially in Europe?

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