No vans involved in Renault vehicle recall

No vans are involved in a recall of 15,000 Renault vehicles the French manufacturer has announced as a result of recent concerns over their emission levels, a spokesman for the company has told Commercialmotor.com.

The recall, which applies to vehicles fitted with the dCi 110 engine, “seeks to address an error in the engine’s calibration unit” which leads to the diesel particulate filter (DPF) not being regenerated as it should be, he said.

While the dCi 110 engine is used in Renault’s Kangoo range, the way it has been calibrated in that vehicle means there is no need for modification, he said.

The issue with the dCi 110 engine has been known about for some time and corrected in new production vehicles since last September, added the spokesman.

There is no suggestion that Renault is sliding into an emissions scandal of the kind Volkswagen has been embroiled in since September. “Renault Group vehicles are not equipped with fraudulent software or systems designed to bypass the emission control system,” stressed the spokesman.

The error in programming had nothing to do with vehicles’ performance in emissions tests, only affecting them in actual day-to-day use, he continued.

Earlier this month, Renault Group hit the headlines after investigators carried out raids on three of its sites in France in mid-January. The firm said these had taken place as part of an inquiry by an independent technical commission put in place by the French government to measure and analyse the vehicle emissions of all car manufacturers in the wake of the VW scandal.

Renault had co-operated and would continue to co-operate fully with any investigations by the authorities, said the spokesman.

A statement by the French energy ministry on 14 January said the independent commission’s early investigations had confirmed the existence of fraudulent software on two VW vehicles but not found any such software on other makes - though it had found a number of vehicles in which CO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions were beyond accepted standards, including vehicles from “several foreign manufacturers and one French manufacturer”.

Renault has voiced support for the introduction of new European procedures to make published fuel economy figures more representative of real-world driving conditions and late last year announced a new €50m “emissions plan” to develop emissions improvements in future vehicles.

DfT: final exemption proposals within six months

The DfT said it expects to make its final proposals in the next six months regarding the possible inclusion of a range of exempt vehicles in the requirement for annual roadworthiness testing.

The government has been considering the inclusion of 10 categories of vehicle in the annual test since late 2014 and completed a consultation on the matter in March last year, the findings of which it published last summer.

The vehicle categories being considered for annual test include mobile cranes, breakdown vehicles and engineering plant, such as volumetric mixers.

The DfT has also announced that while it continues to consider removing the exemption from the operator licensing regime for volumetric mixers, it is no longer considering including showman’s vehicles, recovery vehicles or mobile cranes.

It has not yet indicated how soon it expects to make a final proposal on the O-licensing issue.

In July last year, the FTA warned that bringing all 10 categories of vehicle proposed into the annual testing regime would mean 40,000 extra tests a year, requiring a 10% increase in testing capacity that the UK’s network of authorised testing facilities (ATFs) might struggle to provide.

James Firth, head of licensing policy and compliance information at the FTA, told CommercialMotor.com it remained concerned and that despite an increase in the number of ATFs and the extension of testing hours and test staff numbers under the next generation testing initiative, the ATF network’s ability to cope would depend on whether the DVSA could recruit sufficient numbers.

The British Aggregates Association has repeated previous warnings that reclassifying volumetric mixers as HGVs and limiting them to the normal GVW limits would make them uneconomic to operate.

Director Robert Durward told CommercialMotor.com he agreed volumetric mixers should be subject to annual testing but said that a 32-tonne GVW limit would force such mixers to cut their payload from about 8m3 to just over 5m3, dramatically raising delivery costs.