Renault has used "fraudulent strategies" for over 25 years to cheat on pollution tests for diesel and petrol engines with the knowledge of top management, according to a report by French fraud investigators obtained today by AFP.
"The entire chain of management" of the French car maker up to its chief executive Carlos Ghosn were implicated in the suspected fraud, added the report, which led prosecutors to open a probe into Renault in January.
Police suspect the automobile maker of having put in place the fraudulent strategies "with the objective of creating false results for antipollution tests," in order to be seen to be complying with regulatory norms.
The document, the existence of which was first revealed by the Liberation daily, concentrates on recent car models, but the fraud investigators -- helped by statements by a former Renault employee -- estimate that questionable practices have been in place since 1990.
The first generation Renault Clio, which came out in 1990, is believed to be one of the models involved.
The alleged fraudulent practice recalls the so-called "dieselgate" scandal involving Germany's Volkswagen which admitted in late 2015 to installing so-called "defeat devices" into 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide, designed to reduce emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides while the engines were undergoing regulatory tests.